Murray Darling Basin Authority Chief Executive Officer says the critical projects needed to meet the goals proposed in the Basin Plan will not be completed by the 2024 deadline.
at the address to National and Rural Press Club On November 22, the Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) chief executive officer, Andrew McConville, said that despite the need to fully implement the plan, the project to connect the Murray River to the floodplain would not be possible. He said he needed another 5 to 10 years. , can be completed.
“Currently, our assessment is that the Sustainable Diversion Limits Adjustment Mechanism (SDLAM) project is most likely to provide between 290 and 415 of the 605 gigaliters required as part of the basin plan. ,” said McConville.
Stated another way, a deficit of 190 to 315 gigaliters is expected.
“This means the agency has no choice but to recommend to the Federal Water Minister to amend the sustainable diversion limits in the watershed’s southern watershed.”
In 2017, the basin states and federal government agreed to 36 SDLAM projects linked in the southern part of the Murray-Darling Basin. The goal was to recover 605 gigaliters of water from the consumption pool.
Since the plan became law in 2012, more than 2,100 gigaliters of water have been returned to the environment. Under this plan, the basin countries agreed to remove he 2,750 gigaliters of water from irrigated agriculture by 2024 and return it to the basin.
In addition, 450 gigaliters of water had to be recovered through “efficiency measures”. However, only 2 gigaliters were recovered.
Currently, 634 gigaliters have yet to be recovered from the Murray-Darling Basin under the Basin Plan.
Federal Water Minister Tanya Privasek said she was pushing for the full implementation of the plan, but was “flexible” on how that would be achieved.
“I have to take a realistic look at what the states and territories are telling me, but I’m still keeping my feet on the accelerator,” Privasek said at a water ministers’ meeting in October.
“[W]A path is needed to fully implement the Murray-Darling Basin Plan. ”
NSW and Victoria have previously said they will not be able to meet the 2024 deadline, with NSW demanding more time and money and Victoria calling the deadline “unrealistic”. says.
Additionally, Victoria said additional water recovery for the 450 gigaliter efficiency project would only be considered if there were “no adverse socio-economic impacts and no buybacks.”
Major projects that cannot be completed
The Productivity Commission and the Water for the Environment Special Account said in their report that the project is at risk of never being completed.
McConville said at least six of the 36 projects will not be completed by the legislated 2024 deadline.
For example, the Lake Menindee Water Conservation Project in South West NSW will be “by 30 June 2024 to meet operational assumptions or environmental outcomes as notified or foreseen in the 2017 SDL decision. cannot be provided in such a way as topdf).
In addition, the Lake Menindee water conservation project is being significantly revisited. The project aimed to reduce evaporation and recover 105 gigaliters of water.
According to the NSW Department of Planning and Environment websiteboth the Menindee Lake and Yangko Creek offtakes raised “high levels of concern” in their respective communities.
Another example is the Nya Floodplain Management Project in Northern Victoria.
The Nha Floodplain project “might be possible” by the 2024 deadline, according to the MDBA report, but officials acknowledge that the timeframe is also challenging, especially if the construction schedule is disrupted. Disruptions include delays in the approval process, flooding or unfavorable construction conditions, or unforeseen supply chain issues.
The Victorian government plans to regulate the floodplains within the Nya Project. This allows forests to be flooded without raising river levels to flood levels.
“As it stands, some projects to ease constraints so rivers can more easily connect with floodplains are estimated to take another five to 10 years from 2024 to complete,” McConville said. says.
NSW has the most projects to complete, with 20 of the 33 water resource plans assigned to populous states. These plans were originally scheduled to be implemented in 2019.
Impact on irrigators and communities
In October, the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) released an independent report (pdf) on the social and economic impact of watershed planning in Victoria.
The report found that water restoration under watershed planning “had significant social and economic impacts on irrigators and communities in northern Victoria”.
The report also notes that previous water recovery has resulted in a reduction in irrigation, a significant increase in water prices, and an increased reliance on quota markets for irrigation businesses, exposing them to higher water market prices and increasing pressure on affected irrigators. It also revealed that it increased the pressure of
Furthermore, according to media statement According to the Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF), the recent announcement by the Federal Labor Party to join the water buyback scheme is “very disappointing”.
“Although we cannot buy water from Victoria, it will drive up water prices and reduce the overall consumption pool which has been shown to lead to stranded irrigation assets,” said the VFF.
Jean Beer, head of the Upper Murray River Catchment Association in Victoria, previously told The Epoch Times that the economic impact of water buybacks would be “substantial”, suggesting that both Victoria and NSW should be encouraged to take steps from the basin plan. urged the withdrawal of