In the planning of the Murray-Darling Basin plan to date, the Deniliquin community say local concerns have not been considered.By Zoe McMaugh
The Murray-Darling Basin Authority has promised input at a local level as it continues the process to implement the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.
In meetings on the MDBP’s constraints strategy in Deniliquin last week, stakeholders made it clear to the team of MDBA staff that local concerns had not been thoroughly considered in the planning process to date.
In an overview on the constraints strategy process, MDBA’s Melanie Ford said a main point highlighted in more than 75 meetings across the basin was the need for ‘‘local data’’ to be used as part of the plan.
Berrigan Shire general manager Rowan Perkins, however, questioned what the MBDA considered local data.
‘‘We might have a different idea of local data to you,’’ he told Ms Ford.
Deniliquin farmer Louise Burge also questioned the ‘‘localism’’ of socio-economic reports associated with the basin plan at the Deniliquin meeting, which was held at the Deniliquin RSL Club last Thursday.
‘‘The report is perhaps not quite a reflection on what we’re feeling,’’ she told MDBA CEO Rhondda Dickson during the meeting.
‘‘Is there an inclusive process? Can you find an option that gives us confidence that you are confidently picking up on what we’re experiencing (in relation to the plan)?’’
Mrs Dickson agreed that part of the problem was what she referred to as a ‘‘war of reports’’.
‘‘Part of the problem is when we have a lot of studies which use the same data but have different assumptions,’’ she said.
‘‘It’s the reason why we are spending a lot of time on this, so people can be confident we can capture the issues, and I’ve got no doubt it will continue to get better.’’
The basin plan recommends diverting a minimum of 2750 gigalitres of food-producing water to the environment to repair the poor health of the basin.
The removal of water from food production is one of the main local concerns with the MDBP.
Another key concern is the ability to deliver the proposed amount of extra water. Basin stakeholders say the sheer volume of water cannot be delivered without severe third party impacts.
Mrs Burge has been leading the charge for an effective delivery constraints strategy since the draft basin plan process began three years ago.
Thursday’s meeting in Deniliquin was mostly to address the constraints issues, but stakeholders say there is still no clear solution being offered.
Deniliquin businessman and newly elected Murray Irrigation director James Sides said he left Thursday’s meeting with ‘‘no clearer understanding’’ of how the water would be delivered.
‘‘I think there’s a lot more work to be done,’’ he said.
‘‘They (the MDBA) said they would have more consultation, but I hope it’s not like the other decor meetings. The MDBA needs to consult with people who live along the river system, and the general public needs to be made aware of constraints.
‘‘People also need to be made aware that the Federal Government owns irrigation water now, and that could impact on availability of irrigation entitlements.’’
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