Solutions discussed at water forum

A forum in Deniliquin this week (Tuesday May 11) has made important progress in efforts to improve collaboration and develop solutions to water management issues in the NSW Murray region.

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The forum was attended by representatives of local water advocacy groups, who addressed one of the most significant gatherings of senior water bureaucrats to ever visit the area.

The day was instigated and coordinated by the Murray Regional Strategy Group (MRSG) and the Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) with support from the federal Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment (DAWE).

Presentations by representatives of MRSG were made to a dozen senior personnel from the MDBA, DAWE, Commonwealth Environmental Water Office, and NSW Department of Planning Industry and Environment – Water.

MRSG chair Geoff Moar said there was a genuine commitment from those present to keep working together so solutions can be found that maximise the productive use of water in the region, while at the same time protecting the environment.

“The government representatives genuinely listened to concerns from local advocates, who took the opportunity to explain why they felt governments and their bureaucracies had not listened to our concerns,” he said.

Mr Moar said no issue was ‘off the table’, with open discussion around floodplain harvesting and its impact on connectivity, the Lower Lakes, flooding

impacts in the mid-Murray and achieving downstream targets without the environmental damage that is presently occurring.

“However, importantly we do not want to play the blame game. We want to develop solutions that can underpin food and fibre production in our region well into the future, and we were able to present and discuss some of these potential solutions. We remain focused on our key goal, which is more certainty around water availability.

“The organisations present on Tuesday made a commitment to continue developing a working relationship that will result in honest, open and transparent discussion around what can and cannot be achieved. I found that to be a significant step in the right direction. This includes ongoing forums, with a number of issues already identified for various organisations to work on,” Mr Moar said.

The forum discussed issues around the Murray Darling Agreement, a 100 year-old agreement outlining how water is shared between Victoria, NSW and South Australia, which may need reviewing in today’s water environment.

The forum was followed by dinner at the Deniliquin Golf Club, at which several local people had the opportunity to address workshop attendees. These included Yarkuwa Indigenous Knowledge Centre representative Deidre Hamilton, business owners Jamie and Meredith Tasker, and Deniliquin Business Chamber president Paula Rutter.

The Murray Regional Strategy Group is the peak advocacy organisation representing the NSW Murray, with members including Murray Irrigation Ltd, Southern Riverina Irrigators, West Corurgan Private Irrigation, Yarkuwa Indigenous Knowledge Centre, Speak Up Campaign, Murray Valley Private Diverters and Ricegrowers Association of Australia.

May 13, 2021