The Andrews Labor Government is making temporary changes to rules in the Broken River system to provide more water for the critical stock and domestic needs over the next six months.
Minister for Water Lisa Neville today announced the temporary change, which is known as a qualification of water rights, as well as a review into the future management of the water supply in the Broken system.
The review will consider the impact of ongoing dry conditions and low inflows over a number of years and identify the system management changes that will be required to deal with the changing climate.
In the meantime, the qualification of rights will provide immediate relief to landowners – with changes to the way water is shared amongst farmers and the wider system, offering them more water for stock and domestic uses.
There is currently enough water to operate the Broken system this year and any water allocations carried over from last season can be delivered, but seasonal allocations for high-reliability water shares in the Broken system are currently zero and are not expected to increase this season unless conditions turn wet.
As a result, some entitlement holders in the Broken system do not have sufficient carryover from last season to give them access to critical stock and domestic water.
The changes will take effect from 1 January 2020 and will remain in place until 30 June 2020 unless the seasonal determination against high-reliability water shares reaches 50 per cent.
All water use in the system will continue to be accounted for through metering or deeming against the allocation available in entitlement holders’ allocation accounts.
The qualification is not expected to impact on other irrigators or the environment. Goulburn-Murray Water (GMW) will work with the Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority to monitor conditions in the system during the qualification period.
The review into management of the Broken system will take place between early-2020 and mid-2021 and include consultation with community, key stakeholders and water users.
This process will identify the community’s preferred options – that do not adversely impact on obligations to supply water to the downstream Goulburn and Murray systems or on the environment.
Quotes attributable to Minister for Water Lisa Neville
“Some people in the Broken system do not have access to enough water for critical human needs this year, which is why we are helping them out with a temporary qualification of rights to provide access to water.”
“Changing the way water is allocated over the next six months will provide a critical lifeline for farmers battling dry conditions and help them get through the season.”
“We’re also going to talk to the community about the best way to manage the system going forward as the increasingly dry climate and low inflows into the Broken system look set to continue in coming years.”