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Strategic purchase program to offer options for irrigators

Sunday, 17 March 2013

The Victorian and Commonwealth Governments have today announced a voluntary strategic purchase program for eligible irrigators under the Goulburn-Murray Water Connections Project.

Minister for Water Peter Walsh said the Victorian Coalition Government had secured the Commonwealth’s agreement to fund the strategic purchase of 25-50 gigalitres (GL) during negotiations for the Murray Darling Basin Plan.

“Following initial agreement during the Basin Plan negotiations, Victoria and the Commonwealth have now developed and finalised the program’s details,” Mr Walsh said.

“This will be a voluntary strategic purchase program for eligible spur channel irrigators from the Goulburn-Murray Irrigation District areas of Central Goulburn, Murray Valley, Loddon Valley, Rochester-Campaspe, Shepparton and Torrumbarry.

“The program, which opens from Monday, will offer frequent opportunities for sales in the coming months.”

Mr Walsh said water purchased under the Strategic Purchase Program would contribute to meeting Victoria’s environmental water requirements under the Murray Darling Basin Plan.

“This is just one of the sensible outcomes Victoria pursued during the Basin Plan process on behalf of communities in northern Victorian communities.

“This program aligns with Victoria’s substantial investment in irrigation modernisation and on-farm water efficiency programs, and will offer a fair deal to irrigators.”

Federal Minister for Water Tony Burke said the Connections Project was the largest Commonwealth Government investment in irrigation infrastructure, with more than $2 billion of State and Federal funding committed to date.

“Last year we locked down the Murray-Darling Basin Plan. That locks in the health of the basin and ensures the reform is law,” Mr Burke said.

“These projects are how the plan translates from a document to resilience for the rivers.”

The Connections Project offers a number of choices, including connecting to an upgraded backbone, developing shared supply infrastructure, relocating closer to the backbone, or transitioning to a non-irrigated farm.

The whole Connections Project is due to deliver 204 gigalitres in water savings which will count towards Victoria’s in-valley target of 650 GL.

The Strategic Water Purchases program could see an additional 25-50 GL of savings being delivered towards this target.

More information about the Connection Project Strategic Water Purchase Program is available from the Goulburn Murray Water Connections Project team on 1300 163 006.

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