Modelling by the Victorian Coalition Government has revealed the health of the Murray River can be secured using far less water than that proposed under the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.
Water Minister Peter Walsh said the findings would save the Commonwealth up to $1.3 billion if they were adopted.
The Coalition Government used data provided by the Murray-Darling Basin Authority to determine what the environmental outcomes would be if consumptive water use was reduced by 2100 gigalitres instead of the proposed 2750 gigalitres.
"The modelling shows very little environmental gain is achieved by the extra cuts to consumptive water," Mr Walsh said.
"The health of the Murray, including the Coorong, Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth can be secured by using less water than what has been proposed by the draft Basin Plan.
"This would leave more water for food production and provide a future for the hundreds of communities that rely on the Murray for their livelihoods.
"It would give the Commonwealth an extra $1.3 billion which could be invested in infrastructure works to improve the management of environmental flows," Mr Walsh said.
The modelling shows that if the Commonwealth adopted this approach, the major threats to the health of key sites such as the Ramsar-listed wetlands and the Lower Lakes would be addressed.
"It will make no significant difference to the Lower Lakes if the Commonwealth takes 2100 gigalitres instead of 2750 gigalitres of water off food producers.
"It will also make little difference to maintaining environmental values through dry periods or to how many hectares of floodplain can be targeted.
"The Commonwealth can maintain the Basin's environmental values by using the environmental entitlements it has more effectively.
"This modelling is clear evidence that the money the Commonwealth plans to use to purchase more water to make up the 2750 gigalitres should instead be invested in works to improve the river's management," Mr Walsh said.
Attached: SKM report - Hydrological modelling to inform Victorian response to the proposed Basin Plan