Goulburn Murray Irrigation District Water Leadership Forum will engage its own consultant to expedite a socio-economic impact assessment of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, specific to this district.
The forum, chaired by Independent Member for Shepparton District Suzanna Sheed, pin-pointed several critical issues associated with the implementation of the plan and the future of irrigation throughout the GMID region at its first meeting last week.
Ms Sheed said the broad spread of industry, agriculture and environmental expertise on the forum would guarantee it was afforded respect and credibility with governments.
It was formed following the water summit convened by Ms Sheed, the Committee for Greater Shepparton and Greater Shepparton City Council on October 28, 2015 at Tatura that was attended by Victorian Water, Climate Change and Environment Minister Lisa Neville.
“At the moment we are seeing significant movement of water from the GMID to other regions along the river including huge almond plantations in the north-west of the state, as well as to the environment,’’ Ms Sheed said.
“The impacts of the Murray Darling Basin Plan and the movement of water out of the GMID are becoming evident. These issues need to be much better understood, and will be addressed by the forum.’’
The forum will soon call for tenders for consultants to prepare an independent socio-economic impact assessment of the impact of the Murray Darling Basin Plan on the GMID as evidenced in 2016.
Ms Sheed, Committee for Greater Shepparton chair David McKenzie and water expert Rob Rendell of RMCG Consulting will give evidence to the Senate Select Committee on the Murray-Darling Basin Plan in Canberra on Friday, February 5, 2016.
Their submission outlines the impacts of water losses to our region to date and the likely impacts of further reductions and has been endorsed by the GMID Water Leadership Forum.
“The future viability of the Goulburn Murray Irrigation District and indeed Goulburn-Murray Water itself is critical to the future of our region,’’ Ms Sheed said.
“There must be sufficient water left in our system for productive horticulture, dairying and agriculture.
“The Federal Government buybacks have left a ‘Swiss cheese’ effect of unusable land across the whole of the GMID. At the same time we are faced with producers with deep pockets downstream of the GMID wanting to buy permanent water out of the Goulburn system to water their high-value almond crops.
“State and Federal governments must face these issues as a matter of urgency — our group will ensure these issues are firmly before them.”