Enviro water bought by irrigators

By Country News on December 02, 2015

Victorian irrigators have bought back environmental water for about $282/Ml.

The Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder sold 22Gl for a total price of $6.4million.

The Water Holder, David Papps, said more than 95 per cent was bought by Victorian Goulburn and Murray irrigators, with about 1Gl purchased by South Australian primary producers.

The water tender, offered at the end of October, attracted 525 bids.

Under Commonwealth law the money generated must be used for future water purchases.

Mr Papps said Victorian irrigators had been able to buy much-needed water for their farms, the Goulburn River’s needs were still met and the sale proceeds would benefit the environment elsewhere in the Murray-Darling Basin.

He said one successful bidder, a regional water broker, distributed 5111Ml secured through the tender among 22 of its clients including 21 dairy farmers in the Goulburn Valley.

‘‘The success of this trade is testament to the careful preparation and analysis undertaken by my office and the strong demand for temporary allocations.

‘‘The 22.864Gl was sold in parcels ranging from 30Ml to 5111Ml and my decision to set a minimum parcel size of 30Ml provided an opportunity for small irrigation enterprises to access water based on their business needs and affordability,’’ Mr Papps said.

As at September 30, 2015, more than 4914Gl of Commonwealth environmental water had been delivered to rivers, wetlands and floodplains of the Murray-Darling Basin, with early signs of significant environmental benefits showing up in monitoring programs.

At the same time that the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder conducted this trade, more than 320 additional Victorian Goulburn and Murray regulated river allocation trades were recorded, totalling 26Gl at a VWAP of $281/Ml, indicating that other sellers in the market were not impacted negatively by the sale of Commonwealth allocations.

Meanwhile, VFF water policy chairman Richard Anderson has suggested in future situations G-MW could buy the water and use it to increase seasonal allocations.

He said such a move would benefit all Victorian irrigators and the cost could be recovered through a special levy.

‘‘The water comes out of the Goulburn and the Murray, so it would be going back to where it came from.’’

Mr Anderson said this was just an idea and had no endorsement by the VFF but he would be interested in seeing whether it could work.

He pointed out that this could be a more equitable way of returning water to productive use after the environmental holder had decided the water was not needed for the rivers.

He said although it might require policy and perhaps legal changes, governments had previously changed the law when required.

By Country News on December 02, 2015

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