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Property News

Murray Darling water plan released

November 30, 2011

New plans to deliver an improved level of water management to the Murray-Darling food bowl have been met with mixed reactions from industry commentators.

The new proposal aims to remove 2,750 gigalitres each year from commercial and agricultural use - instead keeping it in the river system.

Federal minister for sustainability, environment, water, population and communities Tony Burke says that the plan will help to restore the ailing waterway back to health - although he admits that reaching a consensus on reform is difficult.

Burke said that the problem revolved around the current use of the water to irrigate farmland and the fact that the watercourse itself travelled through a number of private rural properties.

Speaking on the restoration attempt, Burke asserted: "Those environmental flows aren't just a gradual trickle down the river, they are flooding events of environmental sites.

"Once you get beyond about the 3,000 gigalitre figure ... you are involved in flooding private property [and] you have challenges in distributing the water because of channel capacity."

Chair of the Murray-Darling Authority Craig Knowles echoed this understanding, saying that the new plan aimed to deliver a compromise that protected stakeholders at every level.

Knowles asserted: "What we've got in front of us now is something that restores the system to health and is something that makes sure that we get a level of resilience as you approach the next drought.

"In the end we have to strike a balance, a balance that respects that the basin provides a lot of food and fibre and it's the home to literally hundreds and hundreds of thousands of people and we need a healthy working environment."

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