A repeat of the 2008-09 drought in northern Victoria would see only enough irrigation water for horticulture and no other agricultural industries, a new report has found.
The transfer of water from agriculture to the environment in the Murray-Darling Basin Plan has had major implications for the region, according to the report released by the Victorian Government.
The report pointed to the closure of the Campaspe Irrigation District in 2010 as an example of what could happen when water allocations reduced to an untenable level.
Water industry leaders were pointing to the report Social and Economic impacts of the Basin Plan in Victoria as a warning to basin governments and urging Murray-Darling Basin Authority to commission an independent study on how the plan is affecting communities.
Representatives of the six governments involved in the authority will meet at Mildura next week to discuss the future.
The Goulburn Murray Irrigation District water industry leadership forum released a report estimating that the dairy industry was losing $200million a year at the farm gate.
Forum member David McKenzie urged anyone involved in the future of communities of northern Victoria or southern NSW to read the executive summary of the new Victorian report.
The group was asking for the water recovery plan to stop at 2750Gl, as agreed by the Murray-Darling Basin Ministerial Council and not to pursue a further 450Gl, because of the damage the reduction would do to the economies of the southern basin.
Mr McKenzie said the authority had always acknowledged what it called ‘‘some pain’’ for communities affected by the water transfer.
‘‘I am asking all proponents of the plan to answer the question: do you believe the plan should be implemented at any cost? I don’t believe any rational person would argue that point.’’
- Geoff Adams