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Federal water announcement a step in the right direction

Federal Water Minister, the Hon. Keith Pitt’s announcement last week to end buybacks and change the Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) is a step in the right direction for Southern Riverina farmers, according to Murray Irrigation’s Chairman, Phil Snowden.

Under Minister Pitt’s new water management model, there will be no more water buy-backs and the compliance section of the MDBA will move to the Interim Inspector General’s (IIG) office.

“We’ve long been advocating for an end to water buy-backs, and to focus instead on better use of existing water that has been recovered for the environment”, Phil said.

“We welcome news that funding will be allocated for on-ground works at environmental sites. Our region alone has thousands of potential sites that can benefit from this approach, which in turn will boost our regional economy”.

“We’re also happy to hear that the MDBA will no longer be able to mark their own homework, with the shift of the compliance office across to the IIG, Mick Keelty’s office.

“Mick Keelty visited this region last year and has met with most Basin stakeholders. Murray Irrigation made a submission to his report and we believe he’s best placed to monitor and enforce compliance with the Plan.

“This will help ensure our region gets the water we’re entitled to and will increase transparency around water management,” Phil said.

While the recent announcements are welcomed, Phil has cautioned that the changes aren’t set in stone and that the government can change its mind at any time.

“We’ll work closely with state and federal governments to help deliver environmental outcomes and minimise the risk to our region.

“Murray Irrigation remains concerned about the requirement to deliver the Sustainable Diversion Limit Adjustment Mechanism projects (SDLAM) and recover a further 450GL of water. Combined, these programmes risk potential further water recovery of around 224GL from our region,” Phil said.

Murray Irrigation is pleased to note that the recent Sefton and ACCC Reports were acknowledged as having influenced the Ministers decision on these changes.

“It’s heartening to know that these reports, both of which Murray Irrigation made a submission to, are having an influence and that the government is starting to listen,” Phil ended.