To: Submission to Grampians Wimmera Mallee Water proposed  West Wimmera Groundwater Management Strategy

Made: 23 March 2011

EFN represents farmers in south-east Australia interested in sustainable farming in a social, environmental and economic sense. We represent mostly commercial farmers very concerned about: the impact of climate change on farms; water resources; people and landscapes; loss of farm biodiversity; and, the loss of farmland and relatively natural areas to urban expansion. Our policies and previous submissions are available on this web site. In particular, we encourage strong greenhouse gas mitigation and adaptation to climate change. We strongly support State and Federal Governments developing market mechanisms that reward those landholders providing ecosystem services such as retention and protection of biodiversity on farms and carbon sequestration.

Our comments on the draft Strategy are as follows:

The proposed Ground Water Management Strategy seems a reasonable compromise in allowing small increases in allocations in some areas while restricting concentration of activity that may lead to problems in the future.

However where there is a problem of water table drawdown in the Neuarpur Zone, the planned actions seem unlikely to address the situation.  With recent usage at 60% of allocation, a reduction of 4% per year for 5 years to an 80% entitlement will do nothing to halt decline in the water table. With little or no evidence of recharge from increased rainfall in the last 12 months, it seems the resource is being mined and therefore unsustainably used.

The ideals of the Environmental Farmers Network are sustainable agricultural practices which the Strategy largely follows apart from its proposals for the Neuarpur Zone.

Peter Forster

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