Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Groundwater charges could fall

Some northern Victorian irrigators may have cheaper groundwater fees and charges as a result of a new groundwater plan to be developed by Goulburn-Murray Water.

GEOFF ADAMS December 10, 2013 4:02am

Groundwater fees could be reduced under a new G-MW plan.

Some northern Victorian irrigators may have cheaper groundwater fees and charges as a result of a new groundwater plan to be developed by Goulburn-Murray Water.

The water corporation plans to simplify and update management of groundwater resources through a new local groundwater management plan.

The Victorian Government must first abolish the current water supply protection area and the accompanying management plan before a new plan can be introduced by G-MW.

G-MW groundwater and streams manager Simon Cowan said G-MW wanted to create a more flexible and adaptable plan with rules that would accommodate the characteristics of the Shepparton Irrigation Region.

He said since the last plan was implemented water authorities now had more information about how the region responded to extraction and how it recovered.

He said the current plan was now working as well as it could with some irrigators handing in their licences because they could not economically use the water.

‘‘We’ve seen the 10 years of drought and a fall in levels and then a recovery in recent years,’’ Mr Cowan said.

‘‘We need a more adaptable framework to take into account these changes.

‘‘Some of the current rules are probably no longer relevant.

‘‘We want to see as little cost and complexity as possible.’’

Management plans set out rules on how much water irrigators can extract and how allocations are determined.

If the government abolishes the old plan, a reference committee, including groundwater users, will be set up to steer through the new plan.

Irrigator representation is likely to be drawn from water service committees.

Some key water organisations had already been involved in discussions about a new plan, and some customer groups had been consulted as part of the overall tariff review now under way in G-MW, Mr Cowan said.

Metering of bores is expected to be one of the issues discussed in the consultations.

Mr Cowan said he hoped the new plan could be implemented within about 12 months.

If anyone would like to make a submission on the proposals to abolish the current Water Supply Protection Area and revoke the groundwater management plan, it must be lodged by Monday, January 6 and addressed to:

Shepparton Irrigation Region Groundwater Supply Protection Area, Attention: Patrick O’Halloran, Groundwater Licensing Branch, Water Group Department of Environment and Primary Industries Level 10/8 Nicholson St, Melbourne, Vic, 3002.

The Shepparton Irrigation Region extends from Yarrawonga in the north-east to Murchison in the south and across to Tennyson and Echuca in the west.

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