Buybacks scrapped amid missing flows
The Water Minister says buybacks from farmers are over, while investigations show the Murray-Darling system is missing vast amounts of water.
A study by some of Australia’s top water scientists recently found 20 per cent of the water expected to flow down the Murray-Darling rivers from 2012-2019 was not there.
This was despite almost $7 billion spent to protect the health of the system’s rivers and ecosystems that rely on them. A full breakdown of the mysterious lack of water is available here.
Meanwhile, the Federal Government says it will not buy any more water from farmers.
Water Minister Keith Pitt has ruled out buying water entitlements from farmers to meet water-saving targets set by the Murray-Darling Basin Plan (MDBP).
“This is the position of the Commonwealth Government, I am very clearly ruling out additional water buybacks from farmers, that is the position of the Commonwealth, that's the position of me as minister, that's the position of the Coalition Government,” Mr Pitt told reporters.
The announcement was made following the recent Water for the Environment Special Account Review (WESA).
Mr Pitt says the independent review found “we will not recover 450 gigalitres by 30 June 2024”.
“The WESA review very clearly states that we are behind, that's obvious to all those involved in the Basin,” Mr Pitt said.
“We are committed to working with the states to squeeze more water efficiencies out of existing projects,” he said.
This followed an interim study of the socio-economic impacts of the Basin Plan, which found there is a growing sense of hopelessness within Murray-Darling communities.
Mr Pitt has promised a $38 million shakeup of policing water rules across the Basin, including the establishment of a new inspector-general of water compliance office.
The new statutory office will bring together staff from the Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA), and the Interim Inspector-General of Murray Darling Basin office.
Mr Pitt says he is working on an “action plan” to “refresh [the Government's] commitment to the future of communities in the Murray-Darling Basin”.