An independent report on the progress of the Murray Darling Basin Plan will be welcomed by communities on the river system according to Senator for South Australia Anne Ruston.
Senator Ruston said the Sustainable Diversion Limit (SDL) Stocktake Report released yesterday had shown more than 500 gigalitres of water per year could be recovered by supply measure projects.
"This is great news for irrigators and the river communities which rely on irrigation as their economic mainstay," she said.
"The report shows we can achieve the Plan’s water recovery targets with supply measure projects already underway or identified, obviating the need to secure more than 500 GL/year from irrigators, and that’s a conservative number. That’s at least 500 GL/year that irrigators and their communities won’t be asked to give up to the water reform process in the Basin."
Senator Ruston said the report also vindicated the Coalition Government’s more balanced approach to water reform.
"Since the earliest days of this process I have consistently called for water savings to first be achieved through efficiency measures – both in environmental watering and the delivery of irrigation water – before too much water is simply taken from irrigators’ entitlements," she said.
"South Australia’s water contribution to date has come entirely from irrigators and there has been a significant impact on the economies of local river communities. The stocktake report shows there are other ways to achieve the Plan’s outcomes and we need to think about projects like this in South Australia.
"The Coalition Government is striking the right balance in Basin water reform by emphasising environmental and infrastructure savings, and introducing legislation to cap water buybacks from irrigators at 1500 GL.
"We remain firmly on track to implementing the Basin Plan in full, on time and on budget to deliver a sustainable, healthy, working Murray-Darling river system."