Murray-Darling Basin water efficiency impacts now under the microscope

Posted 16 June 2017

Murray-Darling BasinThe Federal Government has revealed the criteria for an independent study into the socio-economic impacts of water efficiency measures under the Murray-Darling Basin Plan (MDBP).
“The independent study will involve a more comprehensive examination of the potential socio-economic impacts of possible efficiency measures at a range of scales,” Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources Barnaby Joyce said.
“It will also report on strategies that might be required to ensure neutral or improved social and economic outcomes.”
This comes as the government works to recover an additional 450GL of water from farms by 2024, on top of the 2750GL to be reclaimed for the environment by 2019 under the MDBP.
The government stipulated that this extra water might only be recovered if it will have neutral or positive socioeconomic effects in the short and long term, and across all related industries including farming and irrigation.
The terms of reference cover four main areas:
Development of efficiency measures to obtain the 450GL while adhering to the conditions of socio-economic neutrality or benefit and without impeding the efforts of the MDBP to retrieve 2750GL by 2019.
Evaluation of the potential impacts on productivity and viability of irrigation districts, employment in basin regions, and water markets over short- and long-term periods as a result of implementing efficiency measures. Analysts will then recommend plans to subsidise areas that might not achieve neutral or positive social and economic results on their own.
Examination of the extent that further adjustments to the efficiency measures program and increasing Commonwealth support could negate the negative impacts of the program.  
Consideration of relevant information curated by the Murray-Darling Basin Authority and other researchers surrounding projected social, economic and environmental outcomes of the MDBP when making final recommendations.
“Communities across the Basin want transparency and certainty,” Joyce said. 

“This work is an important step in having the MDBP delivered and allowing Basin communities to look to the future with confidence.”
The final report will be presented to the government in December 2017.