Riverland irrigators win with extra allocations pledged for dry years

Date posted: 13 October 2017

Hon Ian Hunter MLC

Minister for Water and the River Murray

Hon Leon Bignell MP

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Fisheries 

The State Government has updated its water allocation policy to ensure that River Murray irrigators will receive sustainable allocations in dry years, protecting jobs and supporting local industries.
 
The new River Murray Water Allocation Plan pledges an extra 50 gigalitres of water to holders of irrigation and equivalent licenses in years when allocations are less than 100 per cent.
 
This comes by reducing the volume of River Murray water set aside for SA Water’s Adelaide licence from 150 GL to 100 GL and relying on the insurance provided by the Adelaide Desalination Plant if needed to provide water to Adelaide.
 
There is no risk of restrictions in Adelaide, as SA Water will still have a minimum allocation of 77 per cent for Adelaide in extreme dry years.
 
Background
 
The Millennium Drought, from 2001 to 2009, devastated communities, industries and the environment, which all rely on a healthy River Murray to prosper.
 
The Murray-Darling Basin Authority was formed as a result of the drought, and South Australia is committed to the Basin Plan to ensure a healthy River Murray for productive and environmental use.
 
SA Water also put in place additional measure to ensure multiple sources for water, including the Adelaide Desalination Plant.
 
The River Murray Water Allocation Plan will have no impact on water availability for SA Water customers. The State Government has guaranteed that it will bear any increased costs from this decision and that there will be no impact on water prices paid by SA Water household and business customers.
 
Quotes attributable to Water and the River Murray Minister Ian Hunter

The water resources of the Murray-Darling Basin are essential to the economic, social, cultural and environmental wellbeing of South Australians. 

We carried out extensive consultation on this water allocation plan so that primary producers, industry and communities could have their say.
 
The aim of this plan is to provide security to all water users and to maintain the River Murray as a resource that must be managed sustainably for all users now and into the future.
 
Ensuring water flow even during dry years will also help our environment by keeping the Murray Mouth open, flushing salt from the system and providing environmental flows to wetlands and floodplains.
 
Quotes attributable to Agriculture, Food and Fisheries Minister Leon Bignell
 
This is another big win for the South Australian agriculture sector along the River Murray. Every drop of water is vital when it comes to keeping permanent plantings alive and helping growers with their annual crop.
 
It was only a short time ago when we were faced with massive restrictions in SA which led us to build the desalination plant for our water security. Drought will return and it is terrific to know we have systems in place ready to deal with a lack of water.
 
This move follows on from our Government's successful $265 million South Australian River Murray Sustainability project which has returned almost 40 gigalitres to the river.

The State Government has fought to secure the future of the River Murray, providing a Rolls-Royce solution when the Liberals suggested we should settle for a Mazda.