State and Commonwealth Water Ministers will meet in Melbourne today, with reports they could commit to delivering the Murray Darling Basin Plan on time and in full.
After years of disagreements between the states over the issue of delivering enough water for environmental flows down to South Australia while still giving upstream irrigators access, the tension has de-escalated in recent times with the SA Water Minister saying the removal of former Federal representative Barnaby Joyce and former SA Minister Ian Hunter from the equation has helped move the discussion forward.
All Basin Governments have already agreed to the Basin Plan, which includes the 605GL Sustainable Diversion Limit Adjustment Mechanism (SDLAM), the return of 450GL through socio-economically neutral or beneficial efficiency measures and addressing delivery constraints.
Minister for Environment and Water David Speirs said environmental water delivery to South Australia was a crucial element of the Basin Plan.
“Environmental water flows are critical for the health of the Murray-Darling Basin and ensuring the River Murray remains sustainable and productive,” said Minister Speirs.
“The 450GL environmental water recovery target is critical to maintaining the health of rivers, lakes, major wetlands and floodplains within the Basin as well as important habitats for animals and plants that rely on Basin rivers.
“This includes the Coorong and Lower Lakes which is an internationally listed RAMSAR wetland site.
“We need to see efficiency measures programs opened up to allow on-farm related applications from all jurisdictions.
“While South Australia has had very positive experiences with productivity boosting on-farm efficiency measures, I appreciate that there are many Basin communities who are concerned about what the impact of the efficiency measure program could be.
“I am looking forward to further discussions about how to progress these important projects and at the same time giving communities confidence in the process and effectiveness of these projects.
“I also expect agreement to be reached to enable initial stage of SDLAM project funding for activities such as design work, investigations, consultations and assessments to prepare the measures for implementation.
“Today’s meeting is crucial for the future of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan and I look forward to cooperative discussion while making sure South Australia’s and the Basin’s best interests are put forward.”