The Basin Plan allows for a Commonwealth program for enhanced environmental outcomes from the easing or removal of constraints (Glossary) and the addition of 450 GL per year of environmental water above the 2750 GL target.
The enhanced environmental outcomes are described in Schedule 5 of the Basin Plan and focus on:
- managing salinity and water quality issues in the Coorong and Lower Lakes
- improving in-stream outcomes and connections with low to middle level floodplains and habitats adjacent to rivers in the southern Murray Darling Basin
- providing additional opportunities for floodplain watering, in conjunction with removing or easing constraints
The additional 450 GL of water recovery was included in the Basin Plan on the condition that there would be neutral or positive socio-economic impacts from recovering this water. The Victorian Government and water corporations are continuing to discuss options for socio-economically neutral or positive additional water recovery with their communities.
Why recover more water?
Victoria has been recovering water for the environment and to improve productivity for nearly 30 years and recognises the benefit of continued innovation in the irrigation sector and delivering environmental outcomes.
Victoria has outlined its principles for public investment in consultation with the Victorian public in Water for Victoria. This enables additional water to be recovered from rural water infrastructure projects without having impacts to existing users.
The Minister for Water has written to water corporations to continue to discuss options for further water recovery with their communities, in a way which is socio-economically neutral or positive.
The Victorian Government recognises that water alone will not achieve the best environmental outcomes without investing in improving the condition of river banks, riparian habitat and managing pest plant and animals, known as Complementary Measures (Glossary). More information is available in the Victorian Waterway Management Strategy.
At the Murray-Darling Basin Ministerial Council meeting in December 2018, Ministers agreed that socio-economic criteria and the associated assessment be adopted as the basis of the neutrality test for assessing efficiency measures projects. Project compliance with the criteria will be assessed though a process established by the states prior to being submitted to the Commonwealth. This assessment will provide certainty to regional communities that all proposals for additional water recovery above the Basin Plan’s 2,750 GL target will have neutral or positive socio-economic outcomes.
The Commonwealth Government’s Water Efficiency Program has made $1.5 billion in funding available from the Water for the Environment Special Account for efficiency measures that contribute to the additional 450 GL of water recovery. For more information about the Victorian Government’s socio-economic criteria assessment process or to register a proposal for a water efficiency project please visit DELWP’s Water Efficiency Program website.
Page last updated: 30/08/19