The Environmental Farmers Network welcomes the Murray Darling Basin Ministerial Council decision to establish a Task Group to consult with irrigators and communities on measures for water recovery including the purchase of water entitlements. This decision recognizes the limitations of water saving projects to meet the 500 GL Living Murray target.
It opens opportunities to reward on farm water savings, create incentives for best management practices and also provide the opportunity to consider the many market based water trading opportunities now well understood by most irrigators.
The water market is capable of providing beneficial outcomes to the whole community and in many ways the outright purchase of water entitlements as we are most familiar with, may still prove to be a last resort.
Water used for environmental flows is most beneficial in wetter seasons to top up existing river flows which is in direct contrast to irrigator’s critical needs in drier seasons.
These differing seasonal water requirements provide not only opportunities for cooperation but also for formal water trading arrangements beneficial to both parties.
The Task Group should widely consult with community and industry groups to capture the knowledge and experiences of irrigators, land managers and the general community to ensure we make the most of this opportunity.
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