The GMID water leadership forum today released it's much anticipated social and economic impacts assessment - looking at the impacts of the Basin Plan on the Goulburn Murray Irrigation District. The GMID covers a significant area in north central Victora comprising six gravity fed irrigation districts across shires including Shepparton, Moira, Gannawarra, Campaspe and Loddon. The GMID Water leadership forum was formed in October 2015 out of a water summit in Tatura. The group comprises individuals from local and state government, agencies, and businesses across the GMID with responsibility and concern for economic development and environmental sustainablitly. The group brings together an enviable collaboratin of experience, expertise and progress.
As with the MDBA's Northern Basin Review, released on the 10th of this month, the report shows significant social and economic impacts to date, and predicts further damage to business and industry if more water is lost to productive agriculture.
While the GMID Water Leadership Forum report acknowledges that irrigation infrastructure upgrade projects have created jobs in the region, it goes on to predict a net job loss of up to 2000, after the full implementation of the plan, and the end of the upgrade projects. The report also predicts that horticulture development will be limited, with plantings in the Sunraysia region and South Australia to shrink by 15 per cent if the full water recovery target is met.
The GMID Water Leadership Forum will use the report to seek changes to the basin plan, including a committment to deliver the 650GL in environmental offsets, to drop the extra 450GL of 'upwater' sought for the environment, and to redirect the $1.5 billion earmarked for this to works that will achieve similar environmental outcomes, or farm upgrade incentives with water savings to stay on-farm.
The MDA commends the GMID water leadership forum on this body of work, noting that it is important for communities to have access to reliable, factual information, based on local knowledge and experience that can help inform decisions of government and the community. Decisions on how our communities respond to the Plan, and how the Plan responds to and supports Basin communities.
"This is an excellent report, based on technical data, and local knowledge," MDA's Chief Executive Officer Emma Bradbury said. "Communities across the Basin should have access to the tools required to undertake similar assessments in relation to the economic and the social impacts ofthe Plan in their area. For this reason, the MDA is developing a riorous and repeatable Basin Plan evaluation framework that can distingush short term and one off impacts from the underlying performance of the Plan. The tool will be available to local government, communities and industry groups next year, and will enable communities across the Basin to report consistently on the impacts in their area."
A representative of the GMID water leadership forum will be in attendance at the Murray Darling Association 72nd National Conference and AGM in Dubbo on October 26 to present the report.