Groups combine to slam flawed process
We can only describe the bureaucratic process designed to provide information on SDL water saving projects as “alarming” and “disgraceful”.
Our groups are uniting to express grave concern and call for a total review of the Sustainable Diversion Limit adjustment mechanism process.
Our concerns follow a series of meetings across our regions, organised by the MurrayDarling Basin Authority, which were supposed to explain progress on the SDLs.
But the meetings did little other than expose the flaws and lack of available information to give anyone confidence that they could be successfully implemented and make a positive contribution to the Basin Plan.
The meetings were a failed attempt at community consultation that provided little comfort to affected communities.
The lack of detail and transparency around proposed watersaving SDL projects which need to be signed off in December is of immense concern.
The SDL process has been rushed and has not allowed for adequate development of business cases with due diligence and costings. This lack of appropriate assessment is leaving governments, communities and businesses at risk of third party impacts.
Community representatives have long been requesting the technical details of the projects
The following statement has been issued by Southern Riverina Irrigators, Murray Valley Private Diverters, Murray River Action Group, Mid Murrumbidgee Landholders Group, Upper Goulburn Catchment Association and Lower Darling Representative. It expresses their combined concerns at the Sustainable Diversion Limits adjustment process being implemented as part of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan. The SDL is the maximum amount of water that can be taken for consumptive use and is due to come into effect in 2019.
to ensure risks and solutions could be identified. In fact, we wanted these before they were put to the MinCo meeting in July, but recent meetings showed us this is still not forthcoming and provided no further details.
There is still a long way to go in the community consultation process, emphasised by the fact the MDBA took the soft option and decided to meet with individual groups, rather than holding public meetings to discuss the SDLs in some centres. It was disappointing that no meetings were held in Deniliquin or Barham, which is the region most impacted, and perhaps that is because the MDBA was aware that in these towns it would be held to greater account.
Even MDBA chief executive Phillip Glyde acknowledged his authority was asking for community support and endorsement of SDL projects without providing detail around each proposal.
He apologised, but still didn’t provide the required detail. How can we support anything when we cannot assess the risk, or possible mitigation, that each proposal will have on vital elements like access to allocation?
During discussion at a Shepparton meeting on adverse impacts of environmental flows, Mr Glyde said the MDBA cannot document these impacts as it is “too difficult”. Yet they are able to continually report on the advantages.
We believe the MDBA meetings on the SDL adjustment process have been an insult to the people of the Basin.
There has been an appalling lack of detailed information. Yet again, it was a ‘tick the box’ community consultation process with no positive outcome and no intention of genuinely engaging with those who will be most affected, and are in the best position to offer solutions.
We believe there is no option but a total review of the SDL process, which has been based on outdated climate and inflow data.
State and Federal Governments cannot afford any more risk to ensuring productive water is put to good use and contributing to the nation’s economy.
They certainly cannot afford the flooding risks associated with the volumes of water proposed under the Basin Plan.
Our groups call for a total review of the SDL projects and process. A sensible outcome would be extending the legislative timeframe around the SDLs to ensure achievable projects that have no third party risks and will produce beneficial results.
From what we have observed so far, the current process proves yet again that the whole Murray-Darling Basin Plan has been rushed for political point scoring, rather than positive outcomes with the triple bottom line that our communities were promised.