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Lobbying continues over Katunga groundwater and the Murray Darling Basin plan

Irrigators using groundwater from the Katunga Water Supply Protection Area stretching across northern Victoria will be disadvantaged under the current Murray-Darling Basin Plan, the Victorian Government has told the Commonwealth.

GEOFF ADAMS September 4, 2012 4:06am

Irrigators using groundwater from the Katunga Water Supply Protection Area stretching across northern Victoria will be disadvantaged under the current Murray-Darling Basin Plan, the Victorian Government has told the Commonwealth.

The region already has conservative water extraction plans operating based on research and historical use, the government has argued, in the latest submission to the Commonwealth.

‘‘Victoria and NSW request that the MDBA be enabled to consider increases in specific groundwater SDLs as requested by individual jurisdictions, provided the requesting jurisdiction demonstrates that through the operation of its groundwater management policy settings, the requested increase will not have a detrimental impact on any related surface water resources,’’ the submission said.

The submission said the Authority’s proposed rules restrict the extractions to 70 per cent of the Permissable Consumptive Volumes.

‘‘Victoria considers the MDBA’s decision not to fully recognise Victoria’s PCVs for the Goulburn-Murray sedimentary plain groundwater area is unreasonable, as it conflicts with the recent technical reviews for the Katunga area,’’ the submission said.

Water Minister Peter Walsh said Victoria and NSW are in agreement in asking for a sustainable diversion limit adjustment mechanism to apply in the final Basin Plan to stop irrigation water being stripped from rural communities and food and fibre producers, and to achieve better environmental outcomes.

Victoria and NSW consider that a sustainable diversion limit adjustment mechanism is essential to allow for the outcomes of environmental works and measures, potential changes to current operating rules, and changed river operations to generate an SDL offset of up to 650Gl. However, this offset should apply to the 2750Gl reduction in the first instance.

‘‘Should there be any shortfall at this point requiring water purchase to bridge the gap to meet the 2750Gl reduction amount, then, in our view, this should only occur through strategic purchase or infrastructure programs to be agreed with the jurisdictions,’ Mr Walsh said.

‘‘Victoria and NSW do not support any further general purchase tenders in our jurisdictions.

‘‘Victoria and NSW considers that only after the 2750Gl SDL reduction has been settled, any further water recovery should occur as a result of the relaxation of constraints, and that this should only be through additional Commonwealth investment in water recovery that can occur with no social and economic impact.’’

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