Water Journal : Water Journal September 2011
crosscurrent 14 SEPTEMBER 2011 water regular features National Water Minister Tony Burke has announced delivery partners for the second round of grants under the Government's successful On-Farm Irrigation Efficiency Program, which is helping irrigation communities boost efficiency in on-farm water use and returning more water to the environment. More than 600 irrigators in the Murray-Darling Basin will be backed by the Gillard Government to undertake projects to improve irrigation efficiency, with water saved to be returned to the environment. Nine regional organisations and irrigation businesses will share in $150 million in in-principle funding for projects to upgrade on-farm infrastructure in the southern-connected Murray-Darling Basin and the Lachlan River catchments. The ACCC has issued pricing principles for price approvals and determinations made under the Water Charge (Infrastructure) Rules (WCIR). The WCIR provide for price approvals and determinations of certain rural water infrastructure operators in the Murray-Darling Basin by either the ACCC, or a state agency accredited by the ACCC. The National Water Commission (NWC) has issued a report titled, A framework for managing and developing groundwater trading. The report sets out a management framework that provides a structure to establish or develop groundwater markets in a range of situations. It builds on economic theory, existing groundwater management arrangements, the National Water Initiative (NWI) agreement and related developments in national water management. The report found that trade in groundwater entitlement represents about five per cent of all water entitlement traded in Australia, and groundwater allocation trades account for approximately 10 per cent of all allocation traded. Irrigators will judge Murray-Darling Basin reform on environmental outcomes and balance with social and economic impacts, not a simplistic focus on numbers and volume that ignore the complexity of river management, according to a position paper released last month by the National Irrigators' Council (NIC) titled, A Balanced Plan for the Murray-Darling Basin. The NIC says reform will require trade-offs to balance competing environmental, economic and social objectives, that river health requires more than just additional volumes of water and that investment in irrigation and environmental infrastructure provides a win-win outcome. The report Community Impacts of the Guide to the Proposed Murray-Darling Basin Plan is now available. This report is an in-depth retrospective about how the proposals in last year's Guide would have affected communities in the Basin. It analy- ses the socio-economic vulnerability of communities based on the Guide's proposals. It also identifies a set of policy options that can be developed and implemented so that environmental results can be gained at a lower socio-economic cost to Basin communities. The National Irrigators' Council said the report clearly indicated that a Plan that favours the environment without regard for social and economic impacts will cost jobs and threaten family farms and communities in regional Australia. Australia is leading a $16 million international research project into why and when buried water pipes burst. This is the largest international research collaboration led by Australia on water pipes, and has worldwide significance as buried pipes provide around 70 per cent of the world's urban water supply. The five-year project, funded by seven Australian water authorities, the US Water Research Foundation, and UK Water Industry Research Ltd (UKWIR), will produce advanced techniques and technologies to accurately predict the remaining life of buried pipes and protect against pipe bursts. Sydney Water, the largest urban water utility in Australia, will contribute $5.5 million to the project. DSEWPC reports that three companies have agreed to improve their business practices and staff training after failing to comply with national water efficiency labelling and standards legislation. Three companies from the Australian Capital Territory, Queensland and Victoria respectively have agreed to improve their business practices and provide awareness training to staff after failing to comply with national water efficiency labelling and standards legislation at their business premises. Go to www.environment.gov.au/about/media/dept-mr/dept- mr20110808.html for more information. New South Wales Irrigation efficiency in the Murrumbidgee will be boosted by a Gillard Government project to upgrade water delivery systems and return water to the environment. Water Minister Tony Burke has said work would get underway on a $50 million project, to be delivered in partnership with Murrumbidgee Irrigation, to upgrade the region's irrigation systems and return six billion litres of water back to the Murray-Darling. The NSW Government has axed nine water programs in a bid to increase the value of Sydney's desalination plant before privatisation, the Greens claim. According to a recent media report, the schemes achieved water savings of 8.1 billion litres in 2009--10 and were forecast to save a further 8.8 billion litres in 2010--11. As part of its promise before the March State Election, the Government is planning to privatise the $1.89 billion plant, which produces water at a cost of 62 cents per 1000 litres. The Deputy Director of the NSW Liberals, Richard Shields, is taking up the position of Manager -- External Relations with mining company Metgasco, which is developing large natural gas reserves in the Clarence-Moreton Basin in northern NSW. The company also has plans to construct a 145-kilometre gas pipeline from Casino to Ipswich in Queensland. However, the plans have met with opposition from community groups concerned about the potential impact of coal seam gas mining on the state's aquifers.
Water Journal November 2011
Water Journal August 2011