New funding for water infrastructure efficiency in Murray-Darling Basin

Posted 16 March 2017

FarmerAlmost 200 irrigators will receive $151 million in funding from the Federal Government as part of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan’s (MDBP) On Farm Efficiency Program (OFEP). 

This most recent allocation brings the total MDBP spend for on-farm irrigation to $500 million. 

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources Barnaby Joyce said the funding would deliver more efficient water infrastructure across the region. 

The OFEP intends to allow for higher-value crops to be farmed for the first time, Federal Member for Farrer Sussan Ley said

She cited benefits such as greater control over water-delivery and redesign of paddock layouts, leading to more flexible property management practices. 

“Participants have also benefitted from other productivity improvements, like increased crop yields and the ability to produce a full crop from lower water allocations,” Ley said.

But the funding could be distracting from fundamental issues with the MDBP, Griffith Business Chamber Water Spokesman Paul Pierotti said. 

“Any spending on water infrastructure is better than the blunt and brutal of water buybacks,” he said.

“It must be remembered: buybacks come with a costly return of productive water, and the MDBP has a flawed fixation with stripping production water.”

He added that the water saving contributions that water management have produced are insignificant.