A STRATEGY which is supposed to manage huge volumes of water being pushed down the Murray River to South Australia is a massive waste of taxpayer funds, according to Wakool Rivers Association chairman John Lolicato.
‘‘Put simply, the water cannot be delivered without causing damaging floods across productive farmland,’’ he said.
‘‘It has the potential to inundate nearly 1700 properties and an incredible 117,214 hectares in northern Victoria and southern NSW.
‘‘This is prime productive land across Australia’s food bowl and comes at a time when governments claim they want our nation to transition from a ‘mining boom’ to a ‘dining boom’.’’
As part of the Murray Darling Basin Plan, $1.775 billion has been set aside for the Constraints Management Strategy and the additional 450 gigalitres.
It is designed to enable the acquisition of flood easements, increase the outlet capacity on major dams and storages, fund the raising of bridges, roads and levees, as well as improving water efficiency infrastructure.
‘‘This work is supposed to remove the so-called ‘constraints’ to allow the delivery of higher and more efficient environmental flows, and so a further 450 gigalitres of ‘water savings’ can be obtained and given to the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder,’’ Mr Lolicato said.
‘‘In theory, this is all fine. Unfortunately it’s a different situation in practice, though getting the Murray-Darling Basin Authority and other associated instrumentalities to accept this is another issue.
‘‘We believe it is time they accepted the stark realities associated with constraints management.
‘‘The terrible tragedy is this massive amount of money is being used to develop strategies that will regularly flood our most productive agricultural land – an approximate of 117,214 hectares across 1675 properties.’’
Mr Lolicato said MDBA’s aim was to inundate this land during the peak growing period between July and October.
He said further removal of water would have dire consequences.
‘‘For example, the Goulburn Valley Irrigation District will be placed in the disastrous position of not having enough water to run the system,’’ Mr Lolicato said.
‘‘This means southern systems, which Victorian Water Minister Lisa Neville has already said are “at tipping point” will be destroyed.’’
Mr Lolicato said the State and Federal Government needed to have the courage to clearly state what they know to be fact.
‘‘That is, the Constraints Strategy and the pursuit of 450GL upwater is technically unviable, unachievable and should be abandoned,’’ he said.
‘‘The continued shameful pretence of further investigations when this strategy can never be achieved is simply to appease the South Australian Government, environmentalists and the Greens Party. It will come at a huge cost to our nation, including decimating our agricultural production and frittering away $1.775 billion of Australia’s hard-earned taxes.’’