Irrigators and river communities in South Australia have been invited to give feedback to the proposed changes to the River Murray Salinity Zoning Policy that would support new irrigation development and make it easier for irrigators to change crops.

The proposed changes to the River Murray Salinity Zoning Policy are the result of stakeholder feedback during a review of the current policy earlier in 2017.

The changes aim to support sustainable irrigation development along the River Murray while still meeting South Australia’s commitment to manage salinity under the Murray-Darling Basin Agreement.

Minister for Water and the River Murray, Ian Hunter, said, “Maintaining low River Murray salinity levels underpins the health of the environment, the productivity of the region’s $2.2 billion food and wine industry, and is critical to providing good quality drinking water to up to 90 per cent of the state’s population.

“We need to have strong policies and programs in place that effectively manage salinity while also supporting sustainable irrigation development.

“Based on valuable feedback from the community, the Government is considering changes to the current River Murray Salinity Zoning Policy. The proposed changes seek to provide a good balance between supporting irrigation development and meeting our obligation to manage salinity under the Murray-Darling Basin Agreement.”

South Australia established the River Murray Salinity Zoning Policy in 2003 to manage the long-term salinity risks arising from new irrigation development as part of an overall program to manage salt levels in the River Murray.

The River Murray Salinity Zoning Policy is being reviewed, taking into account considerable changes in irrigation, and land and water management through the years.

The Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources has been working with the South Australian Murray-Darling Basin Natural Resources Management Board and a review panel of key experts and stakeholder representatives to consider community feedback and identify opportunities to improve the policy.

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