Southern Riverina Irrigators have committed to finalising a governance and structural review and refocus on constructive advocacy to advance irrigation in the region.
A meeting held last week in Deniliquin was attended by irrigator representatives from all five landholder associations covering the entire Murray irrigation footprint.
SRI chair Gabrielle Coupland said there was support among those who attended to implement the outcomes of a structural review and workshop that had been undertaken in 2014.
‘‘We have the foundations from which to build sound governance processes that will see us accountable to our members through their landholding associations which will in turn strengthen our credibility,’’ Mrs Coupland said.
‘‘With so much going on in water reform now, we need to make sure we represent our irrigators in the most constructive and strategic way to ensure we retain productive water for a strong irrigation industry.’’
Delegates at the meeting also discussed priority policy areas for the region including the basin plan, the SDL adjustment mechanism and the 450Gl ‘up-water’.
‘‘We discussed the risks associated with the adjustment mechanism and the whole room agreed that, while it is not perfect, there is more to be gained from supporting offsets to water recovery than not,’’ Mrs Coupland said.
‘‘Obviously we will need to continue to monitor the implementation of projects to ensure there are no unmitigated third-party impacts, but the alternative is for the government to keep buying our water and that is not acceptable.’’
On the 450Gl, Mrs Coupland said delegates agreed the Ernst & Young report was lacking robust data to definitively declare there would be no socio-economic impacts.
‘‘Ernst & Young themselves admit that there is not enough long-term data to categorically state there has been no negative impact from efficiency projects and they recommend more monitoring.
‘‘We agreed that is just not good enough in a region that has already had over 27 per cent of productive water entitlements transferred to environmental accounts through various programs.
‘‘We cannot risk further water recovery and then in 10 or 20 years’ time have someone say ‘oh yes, our monitoring now tells us that there has been a negative impact’.’’
SRI has confirmed a meeting with Agriculture and Water Resources Minister David Littleproud in Canberra where Mrs Coupland will be presenting the messages taken from last week’s meeting.