Featured Services: Asbestos Removal, CNC Machining & Milling, Commercial Electricians, Crane Hire, Electronic Design & Engineering, Fire Safety & Protection , Forklift Training & Licences, HVAC Cleaning, Industrial Design, Office Fitouts, Plumbing, Road Freight, Safety Consultants, Sheetmetal Fabrication, Structural Engineering, Warehousing & Distribution, Welding Services
States, irrigators still at odds with Murray Basin draft plan
07/08/2012 - Water targets in the Murray-Darling Basin may change under a new plan aimed at ending the deadlock between the states, irrigators and green groups over how much should be returned to the ailing river system. Belinda Cranston
Find related suppliers
Controversy over the draft plan, however, looks set to continue, with South Australia upholding a threat to take legal action in the High Court if it becomes federal law.
After initially proposing to return 2750 gigalitres of water to the system each year, the Murray-Darling Basin Authority on Monday suggested a range of between 2400 and 3200 gigalitres, depending on water-saving measures.
There could also be a small increase in the amount of groundwater extracted from the system.
Victoria and NSW believe the target should be 2100 gigalitres while South Australia wants it lifted to 4000 gigalitres, to help flush nearly two million tonnes of salt from the mouth of the river.
South Australian Premier Jay Wetherill acknowledged improvements in the revised plan, but he wasn't satisfied it would return enough water to the Murray to ensure its health — nor did it recognise that the state's irrigators had used the river responsibly for decades.
As it stood, the plan would result in South Australia launching a High Court challenge.
"Absolutely, there's no doubt about that," Wetherill told reporters in Adelaide.
But Victorian water minister Peter Walsh called on South Australia "to drop its sob story" about water supply.
Walsh argued that the current proposal would cost hundreds of jobs in northern Victoria and shut down some communities reliant on the river system.
"If you take another 300, 400 gigalitres of water out of northern Victoria ... it is a death knell for one or two of the dairy factories," he told reporters in Melbourne.
The National Irrigators Council wants more details.
"We are disappointed that so many questions have been left unanswered," CEO Tom Chesson said.
South Australian Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young urged federal Water Minister Tony Burke to reject the plan and go back to the negotiating table with the states, arguing the plan was only good for good years but not during droughts.
Burke indicated the latest plan did need more work.
"It's an improvement ... I don't think we are there yet," he told reporters in Tasmania.
State governments have three weeks to respond to the latest draft.
A final plan is to be presented to federal parliament this year.
Browse the IndustrySearch directory: Farming & Agriculture
Related Feature Articles
Work on the world's biggest hydroelectric dam will start in October 2015 in...
A federal opposition plan to repeal the carbon tax if it wins government has...
Queensland government workers responsible for the deaths of 46 cows at a...
A coalition plan to delay an increase to the superannuation contribution...
Prime Minister Julia Gillard says a coalition government would have to make...