two water savings projects approved by the Federal Government this week meet the offfarm savings objectives initiated under the Coalition to protect regional irrigation dependent communities.
The Marion Water Efficiency Project (SA) and the Lower Murray Water Efficiency Project (Vic) were submitted to the previous government and were being evaluated when caretaker convention halted the process.
Shadow Water Minister, Senator Perin Davey said both projects were submitted under the guidelines developed by the Coalition to identify ways to achieve savings without taking more water from the consumptive pool.
“I welcome the approval of these State-led projects that meet the strict social and economic assessment criteria agreed to by all jurisdictions in 2018,” Senator Davey said.
“I commend the new Water Minister for getting on with business, but the truth is, these projects were well on their way to being signed off before the change of Government.
“The Coalition has always said, if projects are submitted that don’t take water out of farmers hands, that meet the social and economic assessment criteria and that are supported by their State Government and their communities, then they should go ahead.
“What we don’t support is the free-for-all model of non-strategic buybacks or programs that undermine the efficiency of irrigation networks and put increased demand into the water market,” she said.
Senator Davey said the prices paid for these projects for the water savings achieved show the low hanging fruit is gone and it is going to be harder and harder to find more savings.
“Taxpayers have just paid nearly $22,000/ML for South Australian water and over, $15,000/ML for the Victorian water for a total saving of just over 2.6GL.
“The Minister has accused the former Government of letting the Basin Plan drift. I think she will learn as she travels the Basin and talks to stakeholders and hears about the difficulty in dealing with constraints and the impacts of previous water recovery, that it is not an easy task.
“More importantly I hope she hears about the good things that are being achieved with the current water portfolio and understands outcomes should be more important than targets derived from models based on 15-year-old assumptions.
“What we really need now is a Basin Management Plan rather than a water recovery plan.
“There are plenty of ideas about ways to achieve good environmental outcomes without the need for further water recovery and they should all be on the table as a way to offset any further water recovery,” Senator Davey said.