Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Murray Irrigation Limited commits $30,000 for basin plan fight

The Muddied Waters project has received a $30,000 boost from MIL.

August 14, 2012 4:24am

Murray Irrigation Limited has backflipped on its decision not to support the Muddied Waters documentary project.

When originally asked to pledge money to the multi-faceted approach to fighting the Murray-Darling Basin Plan (MDBP), the irrigation company declined.

MIL had said it was concerned about the lack of clarity about the content and structure of the proposal, which is being partly driven by Deniliquin farmer Louise Burge.

After gaining more detailed information, MIL chair Noel Graham said the company agreed to pledge $30,000.

Mrs Burge said they needed to raise $370,000 for the project, and the community response has been ‘‘fantastic’’ so far.

The Muddied Waters — A Clear Solution documentary and media strategy aims to rectify the ‘‘flawed’’ science used as the basis of the basin plan, as well as mistruths about the health of the Murray-Darling river systems.

The MDBP recommends a diversion of between 2400 gigalitres and 3200GL of productive water to the environment, which stakeholders say will ruin rural-based economies such as Deniliquin’s.

Mr Graham said additional concerns about the basin plan, directly linked with the newly released altered document, also inspired the board to reconsider.

‘‘The Murray-Darling Basin Authority has released the altered proposed basin plan in response to the Ministerial Council comments, which fails to address many of Murray Irrigation’s key concerns,’’ he said.

‘‘The latest version of the basin plan (released last week) fails to sensibly incorporate recommendations of the Murray-Darling Ministerial Council and, where there was majority support for a position but not a consensus, has not addressed certain issues at all.

‘‘It effectively gives one state the power on every point.’’

Mr Graham said recommended changes to the volume of water taken from production for the environment, known as sustainable diversion limits (SDLs), has also raised some additional concerns.

The altered plan suggests it can vary five per cent above or below the recommended 2750 gigalitres.

‘‘With the changes in sustainable diversion limits, we are happy they can vary but we would obviously prefer they go down.

‘‘We are not happy with the ability of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) to make the decision on the alteration without approval from Parliament.

‘‘It means we will have no ability to influence the MDBA.’’

Mr Graham said one of the reasons the board chose not to financially support the Muddied Waters project last month was to prevent derailing negotiations on the basin plan, but the MIL chairman conceded the MDBA had ‘‘done just that’’.

‘‘We didn’t want to upset the apple cart, but the apple cart has now been upset by the MDBA.’’

The MIL board is also satisfied with the response from Muddied Waters project coordinator Ken Jury, a South Australian man and former journalist, when asked for more details.

For more information contact Mr Jury on 0412 450 924 or or Louise Burge on 0428 984 570.

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