Independent Member for Shepparton District Suzanna Sheed says a Southern Basin Water Summit will be convened on 10 November 2017 to lobby governments to take immediate action to mitigate the damage currently occurring to irrigation communities as a result of the determined rollout of the Murray Darling Basin Plan without regard to the negative socio-economic impacts on local communities.
“There is now ample evidence from reputable reports commissioned over the last 18 months which show the serious impacts on our farming towns and communities throughout the southern basin.
The summit, to be hosted by the Goulburn Murray Irrigation District Water Leadership Forum which Ms Sheed co-chairs as well as the Committee for Greater Shepparton, will be held on November 10 at Tatura.
Water Ministers from Basin states are due to meet at the end of November to sign off on 605GL of environmental offset projects and to finalise a process for recovering an additional 450GL from the consumptive pool.
Ms Sheed said it could be disastrous for communities if these decisions are made without all the information on the table.
She said it was vital that affected communities join together to voice their concerns before it was too late.
“Our communities are hurting and no one is listening,” Ms Sheed said.
“There are five inquiries underway into the Murray Darling Basin Plan and faith in the system is at an all-time low, yet our governments are forging ahead without any regard for the welfare of the regions,” Ms Sheed said.
“They are pursuing an entirely inadequate, piece-meal approach to the situation while at the same time preparing to make crucial decisions on environmental offset projects and how to recover even more water despite the evidence of significant negative socio-economic impacts across our irrigation communities.
“Once they make those decisions, the final stages of the Plan will be locked into a trajectory that will further devastate our communities and we cannot let that happen.”
The Southern Basin Water Summit will look at several key issues including:
- an overview of the environmental gains;
- a review of the completed socio-economic studies and their relationship to the recovery of the additional 450GL;
- the failure of the Murray Darling Basin Authority to effectively monitor the Plan and ensure compliance;
- questions around the latest cap compliance report and the actual amount of water in the system;
- unresolved issues regarding constraints projects; and
- opportunities for moving forward.
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