Water Week

EWN Publishing

Victoria growing opposition to recent $1 billion plan for irrigation upgrades in the state’s Goulburn Murray region, including a pipeline to Melbourne

Posted by waterweek on 11 October 2007

As the state government attempts to conclude six months of negotiations with the federal government, there is growing opposition to its recently announced $1 billion plan for irrigation upgrades in the state’s Goulburn Murray region, including a pipeline to Melbourne reported The Australian Financial Review (13/7/2007, p. 19).

Immediate environmental impact statement demanded: Federal Minister for Workforce Participation Sharman Stone has written to federal Water Minister Malcolm Turnbull seeking “an immediate” environmental impact statement, which might delay the project’s commencement.

Real concern for the ecosystem and endangered species: The project’s irrigation upgrades, called the food bowl modernisation project are intended to boost water supplies that will be shared evenly between local irrigators, Melbourne and the environment. “That is bulldust,” Dr Stone said. “There is real concern that the environmental impacts of the pipeline itself as well as the loss of environmental flows could be as significant as the economic and community impacts of higher water prices, reduced water access and water security for the meat producers, dairy farmers and fruit growers in northern Victoria.” She said the environmental study would establish whether the pipeline and its diversion of the Goulburn system’s environmental reserve to Melbourne would have a “significant impact” on any of the region’s listed threatened species or ecosystems.

Locals and farmers also angered: Eril Rathjen, a northern Victorian tomato and grape farmer, said there was widespread anger among the local farming community about the proposed project. “The local farming community is going to fight this proposal as hard as we can,” Mrs Rathjen said. ‘We simply do not believe the government figures about the water savings. It has not done its homework.”

The Australian Financial Review, 13/7/2007, p. 19

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