The Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) has released a series of profiles revealing socio-economic trends across basin communities, with MDBA Chief Executive Phillip Glyde saying that some communities are showing “significant decreases” in employment in agriculture, although there has been only a very small net amount of water recovery.
"This indicates that not only is the Basin Plan just one of a number of factors behind social and economic change, but in many communities it may not be the most significant factor,” he said.
"In considering this data, it is also worth noting that, although there are some communities that have been experiencing hardship, during the past five years, the Basin economy as a whole has continued to grow.”
Glyde said the value of irrigated agriculture in the basin has remained steady due to productivity improvements, as well as changes to the mix of crops grown and changes in commodity prices.
"The Basin Plan is also integral to securing a sustainable future for the unique natural assets that play a vital role in supporting industries other than agriculture,” he said.
According to Glyde, the profiles offer “great insight” into how communities are dealing with water recovery.
"These community profiles are an important input to our examination of the socio-economic effects of the Basin Plan, which is a component of the Basin Plan Evaluation. However, they do not yet capture the full story and need to be interpreted with care," Glyde said.
"What we are seeing is that many Basin communities are experiencing similar socio-economic trends, regardless of the amount of water recovery in those communities.
“These are trends that are reflected across both irrigation dependent and non-irrigation dependent communities in the Basin.”
Furthermore, the MDBA has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the new independent regulatory body for water compliance in New South Wales, in a bid to strengthen compliance across the state.
In the wake of recent water theft allegations, the Natural Resources Access Regulator (NRAR) has been established to renew confidence in the Murray-Darling Basin Plan and how it is managed within NSW.
This move follows the recent announcement that Plan amendments affecting the northern part of the Basin have been disallowed by Federal Parliament
and the signing of the Murray-Darling Declaration
MDBA Chair Neil Andrew said the MoU will underpin a strong and cooperative approach to compliance and enforcement of water management rules in the state.
"With so much public attention focused on the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, it is more important than ever that the Australian people can have confidence the plan designed to protect the future of our most important water resource is being properly implemented, complied with and enforced," Andrew said.
"Regulatory responsibility for water in the Basin is shared between state governments and the Commonwealth – so it is vitally important that we work effectively with each other.
"We will continue our efforts on compliance tirelessly, so all Australians can have faith and trust in the effectiveness of the Basin Plan."
NRAR Chair Craig Knowles said the MoU is integral to establishing the regulatory body and highlights the beginning of a new era in compliance management for NSW water.
"This signing signifies the commitment by both agencies, as the Commonwealth and NSW regulators respectively, to work together to implement and regulate water management laws in NSW,” Knowles said.
"We are agreeing to effectively share information and intelligence, conduct joint investigations where necessary, build capability and capacity in both agencies, report transparently, and work to continuously improve compliance – for example, through the development of new monitoring technologies."
The Coalition Government has announced a Productivity Commission inquiry into the effectiveness and implementation of the Basin Plan and water resource plans which you can read about here
Murray-Darling Basin Plan hits roadblock
Signatories ink Murray-Darling Declaration