THE Murray-Darling Ministerial Council needs to urgently undertake a review of water deliveries to ensure irrigators will not be restricted during critical peak summer demand.
The risk that water will not be delivered at critical times for different crops is growing, as expansion of horticulture downstream of the Barmah Choke is changing river demand patterns. This must be urgently addressed by State and Commonwealth Governments.
There have been significant changes in river operations and demand for water in recent years. Irrigators, governments and the environmental water holders need to understand all of the risks associated with delivering water.
The failure to deliver water at critical times could cause catastrophic crop losses, particularly to established irrigators downstream of the Barmah Choke in Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia.
There is a limit to how much water can physically be delivered downstream, and that limit has reduced as erosion causes river banks to collapse.
State and Commonwealth Water Ministers need to discuss these issues at the Ministerial Council meeting this week and to direct the Murray Darling Basin Authority, working with State departments and agencies, to report in early 2019 on:
The current and future risks of delivery shortfalls
The frequency, duration and severity of projected shortfalls
The consequences of shortfalls to irrigators and the environment
Actions being taken to mitigate these shortfalls
A program to properly inform water users of the risks of shortfall and potential third party impacts, and actions being taken to mitigate these risks.
VFF Water Council chairman
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