MDBA proposes drop in Northern Basin water target to 320 gigalitres

Grain Central, May 16, 2017

THE Murray Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) is recommending the water recovery target for the Northern Basin be reduced from 390 gigalitres (GL) to 320GL as long as the Australian, Queensland and NSW governments commit to implementing a range of measures aimed at improving water management in the north and helping the environment.

MDBA chief executive Phillip Glyde said research confirmed that remaining at 390GL would have harmful social and economic outcomes for some irrigation communities.

“The environmental research established we will achieve only slightly lower environmental outcomes with a lowered reduction—and of course we recognise the health of our rivers is not just about volumes of water,” he said.

“It’s all about balancing the social, economic, and environmental impacts of the Basin Plan along with its long-term benefits.”

Mr Glyde said the MDBA had written to Ministerial Council members and recommended progressing a variety of amendments to the Basin Plan.

“The proposed 320GL recovery target is divided into a shared target (whole river-system) and local reduction targets (catchment-specific),” he said.

“The proposed amendments will see local targets increased to 279GL and shared targets lowered to 41GL—this acknowledges that in some local catchments there is a need to focus water recovery for the local environment.

“We are also proposing other changes to groundwater systems and other minor practical changes that will streamline implementation and make the roll-out of the Basin Plan more effective and efficient.”

The process for evaluating the Northern Basin, and making changes, was agreed to in the Basin Plan.

In the Southern Basin, there are other activities occurring—the recommended amendments will not impact on the Southern Basin.

Mr Glyde said the consultation process had been far-reaching and extensive.

“As part of the Northern Basin review, we shared the initial social, economic and environmental research findings, we checked whether these findings resonated with communities, industries and interest groups, and we then conducted a more formal consultation process on the proposed amendments,” he said.

“We heard a range of conflicting views and preferences. Through both our research and consultation results, we believe the recommended amendments strike the right balance for the health and production of the Basin.”

The recommendations are now with the Ministerial Council members for response, and then a final recommendation will be delivered to the Australian Government Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources.

Source: MDBA


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