Water challenges

The range of issues around water, particularly its value, it availability and its utilisation for wine production have re-emerged in recent months as the El Niño strengthens and the range of impacts of the MDB Plan loom large. There are many questions. There are no easy-answers.

This week Riverland Wine invited representatives from Irrigation Trusts, Real Estate (Rural), and several concerned irrigators to help find at least some of the answers; to enable all parties to make more timely business decisions, with confidence. There are many information gaps. Finding the missing pieces is a tall order. Top of mind issues and questions include:

  • Current water prices, trends and likely future scenarios.
  • Rules around the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder’s (CEWH) management of water in dry periods need clarification, to avoid distortion of water markets and more uncertainty.
  • Ascertaining the groups most at risk and working out how they might mitigate risk.
  • Identifying the most vulnerable areas.
  • Pin-pointing the key indicators that impact property values and to what extent.
  • Developing an index of property values based on plantings, infrastructure and other factors.
  • Similarly, an index illustrating returns per megalitre and per tonne for permanent plantings.
  • Reviewing the regulations around salinity zoning and site use allowances.
  • Re-examining salt interception schemes; Are benefits in line with expectations?
  • Are NRM levies understood and can our community evaluate the impact of likely increases?
  • Should Riverland Irrigators re-engage with the MDBA regarding the ‘impact of the plan’ on communities, on our economy and on the environment?

This is a wide spread of topics. No doubt there are others not yet listed. Readers are welcome to add their own ideas. The members of the Water Challenges group will review the list and discuss what can be done to fill the information gaps and manage risk with more certainty.

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