NSW Irrigators’ Council Key Positions:
NSWIC supports a healthy Murray-Darling Basin. Basin Plan policy is required to balance economic, social and environmental objectives. Future implementation of the Basin Plan must acknowledge the impact so far on communities and our capacity to produce food and fibre. This means, going forward, implementation must be responsive and adaptive and value the importance of irrigated agriculture and rural communities to Australians.
Please refer to our Basin Plan Policy Paper for full details [HERE]
Water Access Licences are a property right – water property rights (including accessibility, reliability and their fundamental characteristics) must be protected regardless of ownership.
Government must recognise water property rights, and not make regulatory changes which reduce reliability.
It is a core principle of NSWIC that environmental health and sustainable resource access is integral to a successful irrigation industry. Irrigation farmers in NSW and Australia are world leaders in water-efficient production with high ethical and environmental standards. Government must work with irrigation farmers to respond and adapt to a changing climate of water availability. All water, including environmental water, must be used most effectively and efficiently, with the measure of success remaining focused on achieving improved ecological outcomes.
The NSW Irrigators Council is supportive of the need to bring the legitimate historical floodplain harvesting access into the current regulatory framework by converting a descriptive take licensed under NSW Water Act 1912 into a volumetric license consistent with the NSW Water Management Act 2000.
The NSWIC agree that with all water available to irrigators and the river system limited, licensing of floodplain flows must demonstrate ‘no more or no less’ take (than described limits), and provide tools to better measure and monitor floodplain take to ensure overall usage remains within described limits, as set out in water sharing plans and the Basin Plan.
Please refer to our Healthy Floodplains Paper for full details [HERE]
Metering, Monitoring & Measuring
NSWIC supports the continued improvement of Metering, Monitoring & Measurement actions for all water users across the state. If it can’t be measured, it can’t be managed. It is a key principle of NSWIC that all water (agricultural, environment, cultural and industrial) must be measured, and used efficiently and effectively.
NSWIC endorses National Metering Standards and expects all Australian states to apply the standards.
NSWIC recognises the leadership of NSW in meeting National Metering Standards, and going above the standard in some instances (e.g. telemetry), by implementing an ambitious, high-standard and world-leading metering reform.
Water reforms have serious impacts on rural communities. It is crucial that socio-economic impacts are understood, and included in decision-making. Evidence-based policy is essential for best practice policy.
NSWIC endorses the ‘Independent Assessment of Social & Economic Conditions in the Basin’ Final Report, including all recommendations and findings.
Pricing determinations must be transparent, with cost shares appropriately allocated. The general public must recognise that water users fund vital programs for our river systems, including environmental projects, water quality monitoring and flood management.
The water market must foster confidence from all water users by being transparent, simple to use, based on well-informed price data and sound reporting.
River systems must be managed most efficiently to minimise operational losses and maintain reliability and accessibility to all water users, whilst respecting the physical capacity and needs of the river system. Please refer to our Deliverability Policy Paper for full details [HERE].
Allocations & Usage
Water users have access to water up to the Sustainable Diversion Limit, and it is the responsibility of Governments to permit and foster access to this level.
Government should be focused on continuous improvement to the transparency of the allocation system, and the ability to account for inflows.
NSWIC has established a Climate Change Policy Portfolio, in recognition of the risks to water security for irrigated agriculture. See more [HERE].
Water Resource Plans & Water Sharing Plans
Water management must be evidence-based, with review mechanisms, to ensure best-available data can inform best-practice policy through adaptive process. Irrigation farmers are stewards of tremendous knowledge in water management, and extensive consultation is needed to utilise this knowledge.
NSWIC supports river connectivity, defined as flows to meet critical human, environmental and cultural needs, within the physical, hydrological and climate limits on rainfall, inflows and flow rates.
NSWIC recognises the significant recent and ongoing suite of reforms to improve connectivity, as reflected in WSP rules. NSWIC urges better communications to support a shared understanding of what connectivity means, to ensure public expectations pragmatically reflect the physical and hydrological limitations of river systems (which vary widely), particularly with a changing climate.
Mining & CSG
The preservation of sustainable resources for agriculture – including water – must be absolute in addressing mining exploration or operational licence applications. NSWIC advocates a strict “no regrets” approach to the licencing of both exploration and operations in mining in respect of water sources.
Clear policy to manage coastal water sources fairly is imperative to the success of existing and further development within coastal regions. There is a need for Coastal water management to be treated separately to inland water management.
NSWIC recognises and supports the traditional and cultural uses of water by Aboriginal people.
Government must invest in reliable, efficient and cost-effective energy solutions.