Victoria and NSW look to water-saving irrigation measures

Posted 20 January 2017

Fish ladderThe NSW and Victorian Governments are pushing for eight complementary irrigation measures to help boost the ecological health of the Murray-Darling Basin. 

These include culling carp, installing fish ladders, restocking streams and screening fish from irrigation pump intakes to minimise cold water pollution along the basin’s waterways.

The plan proposes using regulators, pumps, levees and changes to river management rules aim to achieve the water-saving measures.

The measures, if approved, would aim to provide an alternative to diverting 2750GL of water away from irrigators in the Murray-Darling Basin. The proposal comes after various efficiency projects by the Victorian and NSW Governments gained national support. 

The projects were recognised as part of the sustainable diversion limit (SDL) adjustment mechanism, with the aim of cutting the 2750GL target down to 2100GL.

Despite this, the Victorian and NSW Governments are struggling to gain approval from the Murray-Darling Basin Authority and federal officials for the complementary measures. 

“Bringing non-flow measures into the assessment approach for SDL adjustment is not an appropriate action,” the Murray-Darling Basin Authority board stated in September.

“Non-flow measures don’t substitute flow-related measures.” 

However, Murray-Darling Basin Authority and federal officials might be overridden by state and federal water ministers, with the November 18 Murray-Darling Basin Ministerial Council communique noting the intention to pursue these measures. 

“The Murray-Darling Basin Authority has recently engaged CSIRO to lead development of an assessment method for complementary measures by early 2017.”