Basin Plan – Impacts on irrigation communities in northern Victoria

GMID Water Leadership Forum

RMCG completed a 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 in the region.

The aim of the study was to:

  • Understand what the loss of consumptive water through the implementation of the Basin Plan has meant to the towns, cities and people of the GMID so far
  • Establish current and accurate base line data across a range of measures upon which projections (under multiple future water loss scenarios) can be credibly based
  • Understand ‘what the GMID will look like’ in a socio-economic sense, upon final implementation of the Plan as it is currently expressed, and project that situation forward, in 5 & 10 years time, under a range of water loss scenarios.

A key part of the analysis was understanding the high variability between seasons in the volume of water that is available for consumptive use. A complex mix of irrigation sectors has therefore grown up, each with a different ability-to-pay in the highly competitive water markets and with differing reliance on the relative security of that supply. A ‘dynamic equilibrium’ has become established between three core sectors, including horticulture, dairy and annual crops.

This means that reducing the size of the consumptive pool impacts across low, medium and high value sectors.

The study showed that the Basin Plan has created a range of impacts for the GMID and its regional community.

Any further reduction in water availability as part of the future implementation of the Basin Plan will undermine the viability of the GMID. This is particularly evident with a 750GL option which would involve drought year water use for the entire GMID of only 200GL, a level at which it would not be viable to run the entire GMID. Any such change would risk undermining the resilience of the regional irrigation community, which has so far demonstrated remarkable resilience in a way that dryland farming communities cannot.

To download the full report click here.


Rob Rendell

Rob Rendell

Senior Fellow

B.Eng. (Ag), CPAg., GAICD

Rob has more than 40 years’ experience in irrigation, groundwater drainage, salinity management, project management, extension, reclaimed water re-use, practical irrigation farming and farm management, agricultural industry benchmarking and sustainability indicators.  Rob’s wide range of experience from the practical to the technical/managerial and also to strategy and policy, gives him ability to contribute at many levels. He is recognised as a leader in the water and irrigated agriculture sector.