WATER, the Murray Darling Basin Plan and its effects on the community and agriculture will be under the microscope when the Speak Up Forum comes to Moama on Friday.
Organise Shelly Scoullar is expecting a big crowd to attend and hear about some big numbers – in revenue and production – that have been lost.
“We are really looking forward to the forum. We have some important information to deliver to the community about the impacts of the plan and how to move forward,” Shelley said.
Matthew Toulmin from consultants RMCG will deliver an overview on the Goulburn Murray Irrigation District and NSW Murray irrigators.
According to a socio-economic impact assessment, reduced water availability costs the GMID $550 million a year in lost regional production.
The dairy sector is worst hit, with lost production linked to buybacks costing $200 million at the farm-gate and $360 million in reduced output just from milk processing.
Mixed farming is losing $25 million a year in annual farm-gate value and irrigators are paying $20 million a year more for temporary water than they would without the Basin Plan.
This has cost an estimated 1000 jobs due to the downturn in regional production.
The story is similar for NSW Murray irrigators with the plan leading to the transfer of 451gL of general security entitlement to the environment. This water would have otherwise been available for irrigated production and had the ability to generate $120 million in an average season.
Cropping, in particular rice, has crashed by 30 per cent, while dairying has reduced by 21 per cent.
Regional output has reduced by $193 million through losses in irrigated production and a flow on effect to regional communities.
Professor Peter Gell from the Federation University of Australia has been studying the basin’s wetlands for decades.
He said it is unreasonable to expect the damage done since the First Fleet arrived to be fixed just by adding water.
“We need to find a better way to work together and look for long term sustainable solutions for agriculture and the environment,” Dr Gell said.
Dr Gell said dry conditions in the future will be challenging and solutions won’t be found if everyone is working from opposite sides.
Speak Up – a voice for rural communities open water forum is on Friday at the Moama Bowling Club from 11am-3pm.
Light refreshments will be available at the forum and for catering purposes email [email protected]