A decision to make additional water available to northern Victoria will benefit struggling farmers and has been welcomed by the State Government.
Victoria’s Environmental Water Holder (VEWH) will sell up to ten gigalitres of Murray allocation in the northern Victorian water market.
VEWH has determined that this water is not required this year, or to be set aside for next year, and is making it available for other users and investing the sale proceeds to achieve better outcomes for the environment.
Revenue raised from the sale will be invested in projects planned to boost native fish populations in northern Victoria, like works to improve fish habitat and movement.
In 2018, Minister for Water, Lisa Neville, encouraged the Department of Environment, Land Water and Planning, and water agencies, to consider any opportunities to make more water available for regional communities to ease pressure on water availability and prices.
The minister also wrote to Federal Minister, David Littleproud, urging him to look at ways the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder can trade into the market to benefit irrigation communities and farmers.
Goulburn-Murray Water also announced that there were increases to the seasonal determinations in the Goulburn, Loddon, Murray and Campaspe systems, where allocations against high-reliability water shares (HRWS) are now at 100 per cent and in the Broken system now at 35 per cent.
The VEWH continues to deliver priority environmental watering actions to maintain the heath, resilience and viability of waterways in the region, particularly during times of extended dry conditions.
The Labor Government is continuing to support agricultural communities as they face drought and ongoing dry conditions, with grants for on-farm infrastructure upgrades and hardship payments.
Minister for Water, Lisa Neville, said, “Offering this water for sale is a good outcome for the environment and for irrigation communities – it will boost the health of Victoria’s native fish population and frees up precious water for our farmers.”
“Every drop is welcome given the ongoing tough conditions our communities are facing.”
Minister for Agriculture, Jaclyn Symes, said, “Our farmers are doing it tough in northern Victoria and any further assistance we can offer is always welcome.”
“While we can’t make it rain, we can offer support and that’s exactly what we are doing – monitoring conditions at every stage and standing with our farming communities in northern Victoria and Gippsland.”
Lauren Butler is the assistant editor for Utility Magazine. She’s based in Melbourne, Australia.