12 Dec 2016

Basin Plan – Impacts on irrigation communities in northern Victoria

RMCG has completed a ground-breaking socio-economic study of the impact of the Basin Plan across the Goulburn-Murray Irrigation District (GMID). The study was commissioned by concerned agencies and stakeholders across the region.

The study shows that the Basin Plan has led to significant impacts for the GMID and its regional community.  Key findings are:

  • Total available water use has been reduced by 300GL, with most water lost from the dairy sector
  • Regional production across the GMID has reduced by $580M/yr, with the loss of 1,000 jobs.

The study confirms that there is high variability in the volume of water that is available between seasons.  As a result, a ‘dynamic equilibrium’ has become established between horticulture, dairy and annual crops (such as rice), with horticultural use limited by the volume available in dry years – so reducing water for consumptive use impacts on all sectors.

Basin Plan water recovery and the continued expansion of horticulture mean that the impact of the next drought will be twice as severe as the last one, with horticulture now needing 75% of the available water compared with the 40% it used in the Millennium drought.

Any further reduction in water availability from the Basin Plan will threaten the viability of the GMID and the regional irrigation community, which has so far demonstrated remarkable resilience in a way that dryland farming communities cannot.

A summary of the report is available here, or, to download the full report, click here.