Environmental projects announced

EFFICIENCY projects in forests along the Murray River between Torrumbarry and Murrabit form part of a scheme aimed at reducing environmental water recovery targets in the Murray-Darling Basin.

Existing regulators will be refurbished and new infrastructure constructed within the Gunbower Forest, Gunbower National Park, Guttrum and Benwell State Forests and Koondrook-Perricoota Forest as part of efforts to ensure water efficiency matches goals outlined in the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.

The Basin Plan sets limits on the amount of water that can be claimed for the environment, also known as Sustainable Diversion Limits, which come into effect in 2019. 

Basin-wide, the Sustainable Diversion Limits are set to allow for up to 2750 gigalitres of water for the environment. 

The plan also includes a Sustainable Diversion Limit Adjustment Mechanism, which allows the figure of 2750 gigalitres to be reduced by as much as 650 gigalitres via projects that achieve the same environmental outcomes with less water. 

Forty SDL Adjustment Mechanism projects for the southern basin have been developed by Basin State governments, and were agreed to by the Murray-Darling Basin Ministerial Council in June and released to the public later that month. 

Each project will be assessed by the Murray–Darling Basin Authority to calculate the adjustment each will provide to the Sustainable Diversion Limits. 

This process will be completed by the end of 2017, allowing design and implementation to take place, with all measures to be in operation by June 30, 2024, as required under the Basin Plan. 

Through the same SDL Adjustment Mechanism, the Basin Plan also allows for an additional 450 gigalitres of water that may be claimed on top of the 2750 gigalitre target through efficiency measures. 

The Basin Plan dictates that these measures must not have adverse social and economic outcomes. 

The Murray-Darling Basin Ministerial Council has commissioned an independent analysis into the socio-economic impacts of this 450 gigalitres of 'upwater', with the findings due in December. 

Member for Murray Plains Peter Walsh said the 450 gigalitres couldn't be delivered without negative impacts and should be scrapped. 

"A fresh push from the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists to deliver the 450GL 'upwater' in full fails to recognise that removing more water will have devastating socio-economic impacts on southern basin communities," he said. 

"There was no evidence to support the 450 gigalitres when it was written into the plan after a secretive deal between Federal Labor and the South Australian Labor Government."

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