Customers, environment benefit
Lower costs for groundwater customers and on-going salinity management support will be just two of the benefits to flow from changes to how groundwater in the Shepparton Irrigation Region Groundwater Management Area is managed.
Goulburn-Murray Water groundwater and streams manager Simon Cowan said the new SIRGMA Local Management Plan had been developed after extensive consultation with key stakeholders and groundwater users.
‘‘During this consultation, the community, landowners and agencies identified the previous approach to groundwater management had become inflexible, complicated and expensive and that a simpler, adaptive, and lower cost management was needed,’’ he said.
‘‘The new plan aims to strike the right balance between encouraging groundwater use as a salinity control measure, and protecting existing users and the environment from new groundwater developments.’’
Mr Cowan said the plan would achieve this through the introduction of a number of rules governing how groundwater was used and licensed. These rules include:
A simpler approach to assessing risk at the initial licence application stage.
G-MW maintaining a subset of meters to estimate groundwater use; this means customer meter reading, maintenance and replacement will no longer be necessary,
A new process to manage potential bore interference.
Support for groundwater users to provide an annual groundwater sample. G-MW will then analyse the sample for salinity and provide test results to the licence holder.
An annual customer newsletter with the most recent water table map, groundwater use estimates, information on salinity risks and the need for a plan review; and
Opportunities for involvement in consultation on changes to the plan.
Mr Cowan said the new management plan was a win for customers and the environment.
‘‘This approach will lower costs for customers, encourage licence and bore retention to mitigate salinity risks from rising shallow groundwater, and protect existing groundwater users and the environment,’’ he said.
A copy of the plan is available at www.g-mwater.com.au