Editorial by Andrew Gregson

I’ve heard the word “done” a lot in the last few days in reference to the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, albeit in a range of contexts. I’ve heard “we’ve been done”, I’ve heard “the Greenies got done” but perhaps most troubling of all I’ve heard “it’s done”. The good news is that we’ve ended up with a Plan drastically better than it might have been, thanks in no small parts to the efforts of community and irrigation leaders who give their time to NSWIC. As the article inside attests, the Plan is a long way from perfect, but a long way from what it might have been. By no means, though, is it “done”. The implementation period lies ahead, and it is in that period that danger lies. During the last four years, we invested a whole lot of resource into ensuring the Plan was a discussion point around the dinner tables of Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Brisbane. We took a rural issue and made it important in urban electorates. That, to a large extent, assisted in softening the impact of the thing. The danger now lies in those  same dinner tables thinking it is “done” whilst we get “done” in the implementations. We need to be on top of – and involved in – Environmental Watering Plans, Water Recovery Strategies, Environmental Works and Measures
programs and countless funding and charging decisions. Each and every one of those has the capacity to turn the Plan on its head and leave us with the sort of outcomes that we don’t want. Now is the time for detail, the time to be vigilant and the time to be well informed. We need to hear from you and you need to hear from us. Thanks for staying in touch. 
M
ake no mistake – water is scarce and there are many competing demands. Ensuring sufficient Productive Water is and will continue to be an ongoing and difficult task. It’s far from done…

Read the full Productive Water Journal from Summer 2013 [HERE]

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]