A series of changes to the Murray-Darling Basin Plan have been proposed, which would see an increase in the level of groundwater taken in the Goulburn-Murray region, a reduction in the northern basin recovery target and minor practical improvements.
The recommendations, put forward by the Murray-Darling Basin Authority, were received by Agriculture and Water Resources Assistant Minister Anne Ruston, who has 12 weeks to consider the recommendations before either tabling the amendment in parliament or returning to the authority with suggested changes.
If accepted, the proposal would see overall groundwater Sustainable Diversion Limits increase from 3334Gl/year to 3494Gl/year with an additional 37.7Gl/year to be retrieved from the Goulburn-Murray region, and an additional 109.4Gl/year and 14.9Gl/year to be retrieved from the Western Porous Rock and Eastern Porous Rock regions respectively.
As a result of the Northern Basin Review the authority also recommended a reduction to the water recovery target in the north of the basin from 390Gl to 320Gl.
National Irrigators Council chief executive officer Steve Whan urged parliament to adopt the recommendations.
‘‘It needs to be made absolutely clear that when the basin plan, with this amendment, is implemented there will be significantly more water guaranteed to arrive at Mendindee Lakes, and then down the Lower Darling to South Australia, than there was on the pre-basin plan baseline,’’ Mr Whan said.
‘‘Irrigators believe that long-term environmental improvements can only be achieved with complementary measures.
‘‘Addressing issues like cold water pollution, enabling native fish movement and managing pest species both in the river and on land in the riparian corridors is essential for triple bottom line outcomes.’’
The MDBA will also recommend a separate amendment to the water recovery target in the south of the basin, through the Sustainable Diversion Limit Adjustment Mechanism, before December 15.