Home' Grower : August 2012 Contents The South Australian Grower -- August 2012
Weatherill lashes eastern
states over allocations
PREMIER Jay Weatherill is going all
out to push the State Government's
position on the River Murray, with
a rowing challenge and City to Bay
Fun Run entry to feature in a $2m
He is also calling for more water
than the 2750 gigalitres a year
The State Government wants
4000gL to be returned to the
environment as part of the Murray
Darling Basin Authority plan.
Mr Weatherill has threatened to
take the issue to the High Court if
The campaign will also feature a
'River Murray run' where teams
travel down the river from the
border to the barrages, and a
'campaign display' to tour
shopping centres in August and
At the joint conference for the
International Commission on
Irrigation and Drainage and
Irrigation Australia Limited's
conference at the Adelaide
Convention Centre in June, Mr
Weatherill lashed upstream states
on their overuse of water.
"If you are an irrigator from an
upstream state, I have to be frank
with you, your state has taken too
much water and you'll have to give
some back," he said.
Mr Weatherill claimed that SA
capped its take from the river in
1969, while other states increased
theirs by 3500 litres a year.
The presentation to Federal
Parliament of a final Murray
Darling Basin Authority plan is
expected by the end of the year.
Premier Jay Weatherill told delegates at the Irrigation Australia
conference in Adelaide in June that upstream states had taken too
much water from the River Murray and needed to give it back.
Debate has moved past 'simple
By MAX OPRAY
EARLY irrigation practices
may have contributed to
problems in the River
Murray system, but Irrigation
Australia chief officer Ian
Atkinson believes his industry
can be its saviour.
"My definition of irrigation is
the conscious use of water to
grow plants," Mr Atkinson said.
"If we are deliberately putting
water into river gum forests, for
instance, the term used at the
moment is environmental
watering, however I would
argue that's irrigation.
"So let's apply all we know in
this business about using
irrigation for production
purposes to irrigating
Mr Atkinson says progress,
following the States' consensus
document released in July, is
"I'm very pleased to see
discussion move beyond a
simplistic numbers game --
improving the health of the
Murray Darling system was
never as simple as deciding a
number (of litres to be diverted
back to the environment),
whether it was 2000 gigalitres,
2750gL, or 4500gL," he said.
consensus document -- separate
from what individual states have
said -- makes sense.
"One of the difficulties all
along has been in details of how
to get best outcomes from the
water available for the
environment, and the document
goes some way to exploring
Despite the general consensus,
Victoria has maintained its push
for a reduction to the Basin
starting point of 2750gL a year to
be pumped into the environment,
while SA is advocating for a
According to Mr Atkinson, the
real problem for SA is not lack
of water, but commodity prices.
"If you go back a year, it
wasn't the price of water -- it was
the price of grapes that was the
problem," he said.
Mr Atkinson says he is not
concerned about the impact the
basin authority's plan will have
"The expectation is that by the
time diversion limits have been
Commonwealth will have
bought up a lot of the water
through direct buyback or
savings through infrastructure.
"So when the plan is
industry would have already
made a lot of the necessary
adjustments to sur vive on this
water," he said.
The Australian Conser vation
Foundation has warned that
water buybacks alone would be
much cheaper than trying to
attain big water savings with
new infrastructure, a fact Mr
Atkinson does not dispute.
"The productivity commission
said the same thing, and it is a
States reach consensus on
Murray-Darling Basin plan
Commonwealth aim for two
things at once
Water buybacks alone not
Caica says proposed allocations fall short
WATER and River Murray Paul
Caica was in the Riverland, mid-
Murray and Lower Lakes regions
last month meeting key
stakeholders in response to the
draft Murray Darling Basin Plan.
Mr Caica said the State
Government's position is that
plans for 2750 gigalitres to be
returned to the system annually
falls way short of South Australia's
"This is not enough to return the
river system to a sustainable level
of health and major amendments
are needed to meet the objectives
of the Water Act," he said.
"The current proposal fails to
recognise the State's past
responsible behaviour and the
efficiency of our irrigators.
"The meetings have provided (to
stakeholders) an overview of
where we are at in the process of
working towards a final basin
plan, and what we've achieved so
far. "SA is still suffering the
consequences of decades of over-
allocation of water-upstream
which was exacerbated by the
recent severe drought.
"While the drought has broken
and water has returned to the
system for now, recovery in SA
will take many, many years.
"We are still dealing with the
impacts such as riverbank
collapse, acidification, cracked
and damaged levee banks and the
loss of bird and fish habitats.
"That's why we must continue
our efforts to gain more water for
the river in the basin plan and
recognition for responsible use of
Mr Caica is urging people who
are concerned about the future of
the River Murray to join the Fight
for the Murray campaign at
He said SA was still suffering the
consequences of decades of
upstream over-allocation from the
River Murray, exacerbated by the
recent severe drought.
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