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A water recovery strategy for the Murray-Darling Basin Plan released yesterday shows the Federal Government’s intention to reduce buy-backs, which have been capped at 1500GL.

June 3, 2014 2:55am

Southern Riverina Irrigators chair John Bradford has welcomed news the Federal Government will seek to keep water buy-backs to 1300 gigalitres.

He said it was ‘‘200 billion litres’’ less than what could be taken out of production under the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.

A water recovery strategy for the basin plan released yesterday shows the government’s intention to reduce buy-backs, which have been capped at 1500GL.

Parliamentary Secretary for Environment Simon Birmingham believes with full delivery of its intended water savings via infrastructure projects and environmental works, the cap could be reduced.

It is expected to be achieved by spending $2.3 billion on water saving infrastructure projects in the next four years.

Mr Bradford said it was ‘‘very positive’’ and must be implemented ‘‘soon’’.

‘‘We’ve been lobbying politicians for a long time to emphasise the effects of the bucket of consumptive water being reduced by the government,’’ he said.

‘‘We’ve always said if they keep on taking productive water from this area the result would be a man-made drought.

‘‘We saw how bad it was when this area had no water and we don’t want that to happen again.

‘‘Taking water out of farms is detrimental to this area and this reflects that politicians are listening – it gives a bit of confidence back to farmers.’’

Senator Birmingham said the Coalition Government’s strategy delivers on commitments to provide greater certainty to businesses and communities.

‘‘Unlike the previous Labor Government, who simply went on a reckless spending spree, we will pursue focused, strategic and targeted initiatives, focusing first on the opportunities for infrastructure investment and efficiency projects to deliver water for the environment,’’ he said.

Water buy-backs will continue, but at a significantly slower pace.

Senator Birmingham said the focus would be on high priority, strategically important purchases, including groundwater purchases in south eastern Queensland.

‘‘One of the Australian Government’s key priorities is to ensure the Murray-Darling Basin remains Australia’s primary foodbowl,’’ he said.

‘‘We want to see our nation producing as much food and fibre as we can sustainably achieve for the Australian people and for export to the world.’’

A copy of the strategy is available at http://www.environment.gov.au/resource/water-recovery-strategy-murray-darling-basin.

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