Report raises concerns about Goulburn Murray Basin Plan
A social and economic assessment of the Basin Plan for the Goulburn Murray Irrigation District (GMID) has raised concerns about the project.
The GMID covers a significant area in north central Victora across shires including Shepparton, Moira, Gannawarra, Campaspe and Loddon.
The report from the GMID Water Leadership Forum shows significant social and economic impacts, and predicts further damage to business and industry if more water is lost to productive agriculture.
While the GMID Water Leadership Forum report acknowledges that irrigation infrastructure upgrade projects have created jobs in the region, it goes on to predict a net job loss of up to 2000, after the full implementation of the plan, and the end of the upgrade projects.
The report also predicts that horticulture development will be limited, with plantings in the Sunraysia region and South Australia to shrink by 15 percent if the full water recovery target is met.
The GMID Water Leadership Forum will use the report to seek changes to the basin plan, including a commitment to deliver the 650GL in environmental offsets, to drop the extra 450GL of 'upwater' sought for the environment, and to redirect the $1.5 billion earmarked for this to works that will achieve similar environmental outcomes, or farm upgrade incentives with water savings to stay on-farm.
The Murray Darling Association has backed the report’s findings.
"This is an excellent report, based on technical data, and local knowledge," MDA's Chief Executive Officer Emma Bradbury said.
"Communities across the Basin should have access to the tools required to undertake similar assessments in relation to the economic and the social impacts of the Plan in their area.
“For this reason, the MDA is developing a riorous and repeatable Basin Plan evaluation framework that can distingush short term and one off impacts from the underlying performance of the Plan.
“The tool will be available to local government, communities and industry groups next year, and will enable communities across the Basin to report consistently on the impacts in their area."
A representative of the GMID Water Leadership Forum will present the report at the Murray Darling Association 72nd National Conference and AGM in Dubbo on 26 October.