The Victorian Government has secured assurances from the Commonwealth that water won’t be taken from irrigators following the approval of 605GL in environmental offset projects.
Victoria’s preference has always been for infrastructure projects that save water through modernisation and efficiency, rather than programs that take water from farmers and agricultural production, the State Government said.
The Commonwealth agreed that no expressions of interest would be undertaken in Victoria or NSW for on-farm efficiencies and water recovery will only come from off-farm, industrial or urban water projects.
Victorian Minister for Water, Lisa Neville, said, “We’re standing up for Victorian irrigators to ensure no expressions of interest are carried out in Victoria for on-farm works, which will just hurt Victorian communities.”
The State Government has negotiated an agreement that the Ministerial Council will develop criteria to assess socio-economic impact beyond that participation test.
In addition, the meeting agreed that Victoria and other states can use the basin plan provisions of section 7.17 (2) (b) (ii) that allow states to develop their own arrangements and projects that meet the socio-economic neutrality test. This will ensure expressions of interest on-farm do not occur.
At the meeting, Victoria agreed to finalise some off-farm projects that will contribute about 9GL towards the 62GL requirement.
These projects will identify system losses that could be fixed through infrastructure investment that could go back into the environment – achieving benefits for farmers, communities and the environment.