Deniliquin irrigation leaders believe capping water buy-backs will not protect the town from the impacts of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.By Zoe McMaugh
Capping water buy-backs is not enough to protect local communities from the impacts of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, according to local irrigation leaders.
Responding to the Federal Government’s assurance that buy-backs would be capped at 1500 gigalitres, Murray Group of Concerned Communities chair and Murray Irrigation Ltd deputy chair Bruce Simpson said until delivery and constraints matters were resolved, celebrating ‘‘a win’’ in how the water would be recovered was premature.
He said the total recovery goal was still yet to be quantified.
‘‘We should applaud the Coalition for maintaining the stance on capping buy-backs, but it can’t keep collecting entitlements.
‘‘They (the government) are assuming they can transmit that water through the modern river system .
‘‘There is no point continuing to invest in water recovery if the water can’t get through. When is common sense and rationale going to come in to this?’’
Wakool Rivers Association chair John Lolicato said that while the buy-back cap was ‘‘good news’’, he said the Coalition Government must realise the recommendations of the basin plan can still not be achieved.
‘‘They (the government and the Murray-Darling Basin Authority) still believe they can get 2750 gigalitres down the system without any significant third party impacts,’’ he said.
‘‘Within our system, all water in transit must go down either the Murray or the Edward/Wakool system.
‘‘They (government and MDBA) are recommending that at times they need to increase flows of between 40,000 and 80,000 megalitres per day to achieve their environmental goals, but anything over 20,000ML is just not possible without creating huge third party impacts.
‘‘Channel capacity below Torrumbarry is only 16,500ML and at the Deniliquin end it’s only about 2700 .
‘‘The 1500GL does not take away from the 2750GL and already the close to 1500GL recovered to date can’t be physically used without causing disruption.’’
Mr Lolicato said landholders were ‘‘sick to death’’ of not being heard on third party impact issues and channel constraints.
For that reason, he welcomed the basin plan constraints meetings that will be held in Deniliquin this week.
However, he said he was still sceptical of any real outcomes and was disappointed they ‘‘are not having proper open public meetings’’.
‘‘The first part (of the meeting) is by invite only, with an open house later in the day — it’s a divide and conquer approach. Craig Knowles (MDBA chairman) is expected to be there.’’
The meetings form part of the consultation process on the MDBA’s constraints strategy released last Wednesday.
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