LETTER: Problem with basin plan is no regulation

Well said Bill McClumpha re-lobbying for water shares (Sunraysia Daily, March 5).

However, the problem with our river system is far more simple than any plan, any government, any lobby or any opinion – and it doesn’t take rocket science to work out what is wrong either.

As has been noted in this paper previously, it appears to be more difficult to get a permit to build a back verandah on a house than it does to get the go-ahead to develop new horticultural land, which unfortunately seems to be true.

It all comes back to the capacity of our river system to supply water for irrigated horticulture and now, for the environment, under the Murray Darling Basin Plan – and it’s that simple.

We just cannot go on developing thousands of hectares of new horticulture because the water is simply not there to sustain them. Notwithstanding, various governments and/or their agencies continue to approve vast new developments.

It is not at all unlikely that water entitlements will reach $10,000/ML on the open market in the foreseeable future, and as the Murray Darling Basin Plan says, water will flow to the highest and best use (to those developments that can afford it). Where in Sunraysia, apart from maybe table grapes and citrus, will growers be able to afford to grow crops with water valued at $10,000/ML? The answer is nowhere, so the small family blockie will see sense and sell out their water to these new developments.

Just sit for a moment and think of the consequences for this and other horticultural districts along the length of the Murray Darling River system.

In this region for example, we are currently seeing between 25 per cent – 35 per cent of the irrigable land out of production, but how much more will be dried off as just not worthwhile to farm when water gets to this level?

What happens to the land, the families, the districts social infrastructure and to the cost of operating Lower Murray Water’s infrastructure, servicing a handful of scattered remaining blocks then? (Exactly as has happened in the Goulburn Valley dairying regions).

Don’t think for one moment that this is scaremongering. It’s not, and it’s real and could easily happen.

Governments just cannot continue to approve new horticultural developments willy-nilly as they are doing now as there is simply not enough water to go around.

Their job is to regulate – they need to get going and do it before it’s too late.

Grey Barnden, 


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