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Senator the Hon Penny Wong Minster for Climate Change and Water Northern Basin Tour

Author: Anonym/Saturday, December 07, 2013/Categories: Uncategorized

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Namoi Water is the peak water entitlement holder representative group for the Namoi Catchment (the Catchment) and has approximately 1,000 memberships.

Entitlement holders within the Catchment vary in size from single employee operations to businesses employing around seventy  (70) employees.

The crops grown range from grains and pulses such as sorghum, wheat, soybeans, peanuts, corn, lucerne, vegetables, cotton, water for intensive animal production and a variety of niche market food products.  The direct contribution to our economy is $400 million per annum.

We are probably the most experienced valley in terms of water reform, having entered reform in NSW several years prior to other valleys.  The Namoi has pioneered the NSW industry response to water reform and we apply this experience to the current water reform proposals.


Environmental Watering Plan
The Water Act 2007 requires the construction of an Environmental Watering Plan (the Plan).   Namoi Water expresses concern that there is no policy discussion for the formulation of the Basin Environmental Watering Plan or transparent process for industry and community input into the formulation of the Plan.  Namoi Water views the Plan as one of the key planks to deciding what water needs to be purchased and where it should be purchased.


Social And Economic Modeling
Namoi Water is promoting a living social and economic model of the Northern Basin that will allow a variety of Government policy suggestions to be examined for impacts and therefore appropriate decision making.  These policies would include the ETS, climate change models and water reform policy and studies such as the flawed CSIRO report into sustainable water use in the Northern Basin.

Namoi Water rejects attempts to provide snapshot reactive studies.  Snapshot studies are too limited to accurately model impacts, particularly on a social scale.  Namoi Water will promote and seek support for a community-based model that will be owned by Local Government, Industry Groups and Catchment Managers.   We will offer a policy position to Governments developed from this model.


On Farm Efficiency Gains
To lessen the impact of further water reform on regional economies on-farm efficiency should be pursued as a first option for Government expenditure.  Considerable gains have been achieved through private investment in recent years and we expect that considerable gains are available through the expenditure of public funds.  On-farm efficiency gains can provide a win-win outcome in that economic activity is able to be preserved while water is able to be applied to identified needs through an Environmental Watering Plan.


In System Operational Efficiency Gains
The usage by South Australia of shallow lakes in New South Wales and South Australia as water storage infrastructure is inappropriate.  The practice escapes attention only through the evaporation losses in these storages not being attributed to South Australia’s or indeed any State’s CAP figure.

The evaporation losses from the man-made diversions of Murray Darling Basin water into these storages include 470 gigalitres of average annual evaporation from Menindee lakes, 850 Gigalitres annually from Lake Alexandrina and Lake Albert and an unknown figure from Lake Victoria.  We would estimate at least 300 Gigalitres per annum from Lake Victoria based on the surface area of the aforementioned lakes and the annual diversion of water into these lakes.

These undeclared Murray Darling Basin diversions total an average of 1,620 Gigalitres per annum man-made evaporation.  Engineering solutions to providing South Australia with improved water infrastructure should be a priority over all other programs as these engineering works to SA’s poor water infrastructure will create jobs in construction and preserve jobs in NSW and QLD and Victoria.


Water Buybacks
Namoi Water will only support water buy backs in the context of a Basin Environmental Watering Plan, a full social and economic impact study and an Efficiency Gains Program taking priority over job-reducing water buy backs.


Restoration Of The Northern Basin Program
Schedule B of the COAG Agreement on the Murray Darling Basin Reform specifically mentions a Northern Basin Program.  This program was integral to the Northern Basin Alliance being able to express any level of approval for the NSW Government’s signing away State’s responsibility the Commonwealth.  We are dismayed to find the MDBA has abandoned this program with no discussion with any Northern Basin entity that we can ascertain.  This program needs to be re-instated immediately and run through a transparent process.

 
Agreement on Murray-Darling Basin Reform         Schedule B
Northern Basin Program
• Improve understanding of the Northern Basin
Authority implements Basin Officials Committee decisions. 
The data collected in the Northern Basin Program would be an input to the preparation of the Basin Plan.

High level decision making. 
May delegate implementation to Basin Officials Committee. High level decision making as per Ministerial Council delegation. Development, implementation and monitoring of Northern Basin Program.

 

High level decision making as per Ministerial Council delegation.

 

Development, implementation and monitoring of Northern Basin Program.

 

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