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Irrigators and river communities are invited to have their say on proposed changes to the River Murray Salinity Zoning Policy.  

The changes aim to support sustainable irrigation development along the River Murray while still meeting South Australia’s commitment to manage salinity under the Murray-Darling Basin Agreement.

What is being decided?

The availability of low salinity water from the River Murray underpins the health of the environment, productivity of the $2.2 billion Murraylands and Riverland food and wine industry and is critical to providing good quality drinking water to up to 90% of the State’s population.

South Australia has an obligation to manage its salinity impacts under the Murray-Darling Basin Agreement and ongoing effort is needed even with the implementation of the Basin Plan and significant improvements to irrigation efficiency.

The River Murray Salinity Zoning Policy is a key element of South Australia’s salinity management program as it minimises salinity impacts from new irrigation development. The salinity zoning policy is implemented through site use approvals that specify the maximum volume of water that can be applied for irrigation on defined land parcels.

Stakeholders have raised concerns that the current policy may be unnecessarily restricting new development in high salinity impact zones and that it provides limited flexibility for irrigators to respond to changing market conditions (e.g. changing to a crop type with higher water requirements).

As a result of stakeholder feedback, changes have been explored to better support new irrigation development within South Australia’s existing available capacity on the Basin Salinity Register and to make it easier for irrigators to change to higher water use crops.

After considering a range of possible approaches along with advice from stakeholders and an expert review panel, a consultation paper that outlines options and a proposal for change has been developed to seek feedback from stakeholders:

Three fact sheets are also available to inform the discussion about the proposal to amend the Salinity Zoning Policy:

How can your input influence the decision?

By providing your views on the Consultation Paper you can influence the development of a proposal to amend the Salinity Zoning Policy.

A series of questions have been included in the paper to assist stakeholders to provide input and feedback. We want to hear your ideas, suggestions and opinions on the options, but we are also requesting particular consideration of the following questions:

  • Do you support the proposal to proceed with option 1 as the preferred option for implementation?
  • Do you see any issues with implementing or administering option 1?
  • Do you believe there is merit in further considering and consulting on the conversion of site use approval volumes to a maximum irrigated area under option 2 in the future?
  • Do you have any suggestions as to how either option could be improved?

Submissions are requested by close of business 20 November 2017.

Provide your feedback by:

How will your input be used?

Once stakeholder feedback has been received and considered, any necessary changes will be made to the proposal to amend the River Murray Salinity Zoning Policy. A recommendation will be developed by the Department in consultation with the expert review panel and South Australian Murray-Darling Basin Natural Resources Management Board for consideration by the Minister for Water and the River Murray.
 

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