Minister told well has run dry
Southern Riverina leaders have told Federal Water Minister David Littleproud the Murray Valley has nothing left to give, and the government must recognise the disproportionate impact the MurrayDarling Basin Plan has already had on its communities.
Representatives from the Murray Regional Strategy Group — which includes community, industry, irrigation, indigenous, council and farming organisations — met with Mr Littleproud in Deniliquin last Thursday to deliver a united message from the region.
Murray Valley Private Diverters chair Andrew Hicks, who was a member of the delegation, said the group was frank with the minister.
‘‘We made it very clear that the Murray Valley is at tipping point,’’ Mr Hicks said.
‘‘The southern basin has contributed 82 per cent of the water recovered under the basin plan, and this does not factor in the contributions to the environment by the valley pre-basin plan.’’
He said the group gave examples of why the Murray Valley could not withstand further policy-driven negative impacts, many of which were avoidable.
‘‘A number of leaders described the consequences already being felt by the region and John Lolicato of the Wakool River Association left the minister in no doubt that the NSW Murray does not support further recovery of water entitlements under the 450 Gl.
‘‘Instead, we urged the government to focus on 2750 Gl.’’
The delegation also called for a recognition by government of the disproportionate socio-economic impacts to the Murray Valley and an adaptive and flexible approach to further implementation of the plan for the long-term sustainability of the entire basin.
‘‘We also called for the MDBA (MurrayDarling Basin Authority) to be provided with the flexibility and legislative capacity to call for improvements to the basin plan and an extension of the Water Resource Plans’ timeframes to accommodate the disproportionate scale of NSW requirements,’’ Mr Hicks said.