On Thursday the 1st of November the MDBA held a community consultation in Griffith in regards to the MDBA Water Infrastructure Program. Bec from Key Water went along, and here were her main takes from the forum
Purpose of the forum
The forum was to seek feedback from the community as to what additional criteria should be included in on-farm efficiency programs to ensure that the programs do not create a negative socio-economic impact on irrigators and the community.
- 450GL of water needs to be recovered for the environment in the Southern Connected System by 2024, at this stage the plan is to recover this water through on-farm efficiency programs
- The 450GL recovered must have a positive or neutral socio-economic impact. How they deem this will be through the efficiency measures criteria which is why feedback is being asked of irrigators, community members etc to help decide on what this additional criteria should be & why
- Information on the current and proposed criteria can be found at agriculture.gov.au/waterefficiency
- The Minister will be considering outcomes from consultations and meetings with officials & getting a report from independent consultants and will then decide how they move forward with efficiency measures
- Feedback can be given until the 20th of November on the criteria & measures – can be submitted via writing or on the website https://haveyoursay.agriculture.gov.au/water-efficiency
- 4 billion in funding is available
- 1 billion for gap (Sustainable Diversion Limit in other catchments)
- Project funding capped at 1.75 times market value of the water transfer
- Can only recover real water savings – i.e. if efficiency measures save 100ML then 100ML of water will be recovered, meaning irrigator is not negatively impacted
- Need to own the water- can’t go out to market and buy it, meaning it should not push up the permanent water price for other irrigators
- Will look at innovative ideas for water efficiency, not just a blanket of programs, if there is evidence of real water savings
- Projects will be transparent with names of successful applicants being published, along with the cost agreed to, price attributed to the water, works that have been done & technical reports, including ongoing reporting to ensure that it was successful
Questions (& some answers)
Where are they up to with the 35 projects apart of the SDL adjustment mechanism?
They have been agreed to and are in the stages of being funded and moving forward. Projects include constraint projects (getting more water through the system more effectively), rules-based projects (to run the system more efficiently). There are currently 2 phases for the projects, the 1st is the consultation, works approvals etc & the 2nd is actually paying for it and getting it done. States should be running consultation on the projects very soon as DPI is funding it. It equals 605GL of SDL adjustments. Menindee Lakes Project is on the list. There is no order of priority & the individual projects are run by the states
Are they including metering in their efficiency programs, because better metering is not actually water savings
Mary said that metering has been proven to save 3-8% of water and will be a mechanism of this proposal but obviously not the only one and that there needs to be technical proof yto show it will demonstrate real savings
Will supplementary water that the government has purchased be turned into GS allocation?
Who decides on the SDL projects and who takes water from where? Who decided to take 10GL of water from the Yanco Creek? Who decides what environment takes priority?
SDL are not about water recovery & are about leaving water in the system, so it does not classify under the social economic impact criteria like the on-farm efficiency projects. No real response to what department decides on the SDL projects.
What happens if the 450GL is not recovered by 2024? Could buy backs occur?
They are confident that the 450GL will be recovered via efficiency measures, but if it is not there is uncertainty of what the next steps are, as currently there is disagreements with states and departments as to what should happen. The cap for purchases was 1500GL and 1200GL has already been recovered. The 450GL can not be purchased, it is about infrastructure & water savings and the aim is to keep farmers producing the same amount, or more.
How long do you measure the socio-economic impact? Is it only for 6 months after?
The plan is to measure it for 6 years after completion and report on this with findings being publicly accessible
‘Recovered’ water takes space in the dam and hinders GS allocations
VIC & SA governments carry over water for the next season and NSW doesn’t, they allocate whatever is there. GS allocation that is recovered will only be allocated like the irrigators GS.
One of the additional criteria suggestions was to ensure that the projects aligns with government and irrigation district plans/desired outcomes. Some will be approachable, some will not be, how will this work?
No idea whether it will work or not, it is only a suggested additional criteria and the whole reason behind the consultations, to see if it will or won’t work and what that will look like
Key Water encourages our clients to click on the links in the notes above and read the criteria and submit your feedback before the 20th of November 2018.