A Northern Victorian consortium has secured more than $200 million from the Australian Government’s On-Farm Irrigation Efficiency Program ($46 million); the Victorian Government’s NVIRP ($16 million); the Victorian On Farm State Priority Projects initiative ($43 million); and the Victorian Farm Modernisation Project ($100 million). The consortium administers the program through its Farm Water Program to assist irrigators to achieve water savings by improving on-farm irrigation systems. At least half the water saved is transferred to the Australian or Victorian governments for environmental purposes.
Implementation of the Victorian Farm Modernisation Project – Status update
Round 5 of the Farm Water Program (funded through Tranche T2B of the Victorian Farm Modernisation Project) is being rolled out, with 98 projects being implemented. These projects will generate 13 GL of water savings, of which 7.4 GL of high reliability water shares will be transferred to the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder.
Whilst this has been occurring, an independent review of social and economic impacts of the implementation of the Murray Darling Basin Plan was undertaken, as part of ensuring that ongoing implementation of the plan is providing balanced outcomes. In March 2017, DELWP published the finalised “Social and economic impacts of the Basin Plan” review.” A summary and full version of the report can be found at https://www.water.vic.gov.au/murray-darling-basin/social-and-economic-impacts-of-the-basin-plan-in-victoria
The review highlighted the need to deliver the Murray Darling Basin (MDB) Plan in a practical way which does not put further pressure on farming communities by implementing further wide-scale buybacks or otherwise reducing water availability for irrigators (including though the Farm Water Program).
DELWP is considering options for the remaining funds (of around $30 million) for the Victorian Farm Modernisation Project (VFMP) in light of the above study findings and progress on water recovered to-date for the MDB Plan through the various efficiency projects.
GB CMA in supporting the Farm Water Program consortium, is providing advice to DELWP on options for on-farm irrigation efficiency programs based on the current basin plan implementation, and supporting the resilience of regional irrigation communities.
It is expected that a decision on the future of the VFMP will be made by the State and Commonwealth governments around mid-2017.
In late March 2017, the GB CMA made a submission to the Commonwealth Parliamentary Inquiry into Water Use Efficiency. The submission reinforces several points in relation to water use efficiency on farms in the Goulburn Murray Water region (link is here: http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/House/Standing_Committee_on_Agriculture_and_Water_Resources/Wateruseefficiency/Submissions ).
Farm Water Program Consortium Partners
The current Farm Water Program Consortium Partners include: