MGCC: Plan’s water delivery a real issue
The Murray Group of Concerned Communities has congratulated Federal Water Minister, Tony Burke for honouring a commitment he made to return to the region and look at issues surrounding water delivery first hand.
The minister accepted a public invitation by local landholder Andrew Burge last December to visit his property, which borders the Barmah-millewa forest.
Mr Burke visited the Burge farm, situated between Tocumwal and Deniliquin, to get a better understanding of how the Barmah Choke impedes downstream flows and the risks to both private property and the red gum forest if environmental water delivery is not carefully managed.
The proposed Murray Darling Basin Plan recommends 2750 gigalitres of productive food-producing water be diverted to environmental needs.
‘‘The Minister made a commitment to come back and he has honoured that commitment,’’ MGCC chairman Bruce Simpson said.
‘‘He has shown that he did listen at the Murray Darling Basin Authority meeting in Deniliquin (on December 16); he understood that we believe constraints are a real issue and he clearly made the decision that he needed to see it for himself.
‘‘We thank the Burges for making the offer and hosting the minister for the morning and we hope that by putting himself on the ground, the minister was able to appreciate that the constraints we have been talking about are real.’’
Mr Simpson explained that the delivery constraints of the system are the reason why environmental works and measures are so important.
‘‘Infrastructure enables the effective delivery of water to environmental assets in a managed environment between the natural drought and flood events that Australia is famous for,’’ he said.
‘‘We just don’t see how the MDBA’S proposed target flows are possible without damaging private property and public infrastructure; and even then they will also require unregulated flows from tributaries which can’t be managed.
‘‘We shouldn’t be trying to play God and we shouldn’t be trying to turn back time. We should be trying to get the best outcomes we can within the current constraints of the system and continually looking at what we can do better.’’
Minister Burke also travelled to Colin and Lachlan Bull’s property near Conargo to view an On-farm Irrigation Efficiency Project, a Government program that allows water to be recovered for the environment while maintaining or improving onfarm productivity.
He then took the time to meet with a range of stakeholders from representative groups and visit the Deniliquin Rice Mill owned by Sunrice.
‘‘We commend the Minister. He had a short amount of time but he endeavoured to make the most of it to try to understand the issues from our perspective and that is appreciated,’’ Mr Simpson said.