Editorial by Andrew Gregson

We’re at the pointy end of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan. As I write, furious negotiations continue between the States and the Commonwealth to arrive at a position that they can support. There’s no guarantee that it will
be reached, but Federal Minister Tony Burke is sufficiently confident as to have extended the timeframe in which the States can make comment.
Inside this issue, we look at one of the longest running and most vexed issues in NSW water infrastructure – Menindee Lakes. There can be little doubt that this system is an engineering feat in the first instance, but more clearly needs to be done to ensure their efficient operation. Evaporation in that part of NSW can run as high as two metres per year resulting in whopping losses of water when they’re full – as they are now. Irrigators across the State have an interest in seeing that system managed efficiently.
At the same time, focus on water recovery at Menindee brings into start contrast the absurdity of the entire Murray-Darling Basin Plan debate. As one irrigator put it to me recently, what’s the point of saving water from evaporating at Menindee only to send it off to evaporate in the lower Lakes of South Australia? I had the great pleasure not too long ago to attend the 100th birthday of the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area. Her Excellency,  Professor Marie Bashir, the Governor of New South Wales, spoke with such passion about the area in which she grew up that it was impossible not to be transported back to the time that our forebears carved such a magnificent
agricultural area from so little. Their forethought, effort and sacrifice created a food bowl that sustained Australia’s growth into the modern democracy that it is today.
As I drove through the area, appreciating it in a new light, I couldn’t help but marvel how far divorced Canberra is from this reality. What sort of mindset drives a policy maker to risk inflicting damage such as the Murray-Darling Basin Plan on the achievements our forebears made?

Read the full Productive Water Journal from Spring 2012 [HERE]