The impact on Victoria communities from water reform continues to escalate, despite promises this would not occur because “there is no more water to give”.
The Victorian Government has committed to more modernisation projects, after securing $177 million in Federal Government funding. They will recover more water from Victoria from the environment, even though this is not required under Murray-Darling Basin Plan guidelines.
Lodden Valley farmer Ken Pattison has asked “when is enough, enough?” He also says this additional water recovery contradicts the Victorian Water Minister Lisa Neville’s commitment that Victoria would not give up any more water.
“Every round of modernisation works that have been undertaken has meant a substantial reduction in the consumptive pool, with subsequent impacts on food production and our regional economies,” Mr Pattison said.
The latest projects are the Mitiamo Pipeline (recovering one gigalitre), a Sunraysia project (two gigalitres) and the GMID channel modernisation, which will recover about 16 gigalitres and see channel transformation across 800 farms.
“This exceeds Victoria’s contribution of nine gigalitres which is required to gain accreditation for the Sustainable Diversion Limits recovery. Why would we exceed our contribution? That makes no sense and is not supporting our farmers and rural communities,” Mr Pattison said.
He said it is also delivering mixed messages, with Ms Neville stating numerous times “there is no more water to give”, and having acknowledged that no more water can be delivered downstream for the environment due to constraints and the risks of damaging the river system it is supposed to protect.
Mr Pattison said the focus should be on outcomes, not numbers.
“Throughout the Basin Plan process we have governments and bureaucracies that are infatuated with water volumes. They should be looking at how to use the existing resource for maximum efficiency.
“We seem prepared to waste taxpayers’ money and millions of litres to satisfy figures on a spreadsheet. That is not the way to manage our most precious resource,” Mr Pattison said.