Irrigation will cost more than expected
- Terry Court, Goulburn Valley Environment Group
The recently completed review of Goulburn Murray Water done by Marsden Jacob Associates for the government-appointed strategic advisory panel contains some interesting findings.
Marsden Jacob Associates assessed the gravity irrigation business as being financially unsustainable assuming constant prices in real terms, and that decreasing prices by five per cent or 10 per cent would only exacerbate the adverse financial position of the gravity irrigation business.
Marsden Jacob Associates also revealed that 80 per cent of channels delivered less than 500Ml, accounting for only 18 per cent of total deliveries, while 20 per cent of channels delivered 500Ml, accounting for about 82 per cent during the 2017 irrigation season.
These and other findings led the review to question the rationale for refurbishing under-utilised assets, outlined the potential to reduce the irrigation footprint and decommission a relatively high number of channels with a low number of delivery shares all without any great impact on revenue.
These findings are consistent with the long standing views of a section of the irrigation community and the Goulburn Valley Environment Group.
Some timelines contained within the review are less than aspirational and if we want to create a sustainable irrigation industry in Northern Victoria we must implement the rationalisation and reduction of the irrigation footprint in a structured manner now.
While all stakeholders are responsible in part for the deficiency of the $2billion modernisation of ageing and inefficient irrigation system, it has been evident virtually from the start that insufficient funds had been allocated to the multi-faceted reorganisation of the social, economic and environmental interests.
If an additional $300 million is needed to deliver a sustainable irrigation industry and a healthy environment, so be it.