This engagement has concluded
Consultation on the Review of Irrigation Salinity Management in South Australia Issues Paper has now closed. Community feedback is an important aspect of the process and we thank all those who provided their feedback. Responses have been reviewed and are now being considered as part of the development of a policy options paper. Consultation on the policy options paper will be undertaken through YourSAy in the near future.
Updates and outcomes
Provide your feedback on an issues paper on the management of salinity impacts from irrigation along the South Australian River Murray.
What is being decided?
The South Australian salinity zoning policy is a key element of South Australia’s broader salinity management program. The policy aims to minimise impacts on river salinity from new irrigation development, by managing additional water use in defined salinity management zones. It is supported by a water use efficiency policy that guides how water should be used to minimise drainage below the root zone of irrigated crops.
Over the past ten years there has been considerable change in irrigation and land and water management practices. It is therefore timely to review South Australia’s irrigation salinity management policy. An issues paper has been prepared to seek community input into the review as part of the first stage of consultation.
The issues paper provides information on the current policies and their operation and outlines a number of issues identified through the review to date. This includes issues previously identified by stakeholders as part of consultation on the River Murray Water Allocation Plan. It also provides background information on the current status of salinity management in South Australia in relation to Basin wide management programmes.
How can your input influence the decision?
By providing your views on the issues paper you can influence development of policy recommendations by assisting in identification, clarification and analysis of issues associated with the salinity zoning policy. We want to ensure your concerns are understood and considered in the development of the policy.
Following consultation on the issues paper, feedback received from stakeholders will inform the development of a policy options paper for future irrigation salinity management.
Stakeholders and the broader community will have additional opportunities to provide input into the review through consultation on the policy options paper as part of the next stage of the two stage consultation process.
Once the second stage of consultation on the options paper is complete, a set of recommendations will be provided for consideration by the Minister for Water and the River Murray.
Feedback on issues relating to salinity management policy in the South Australian Murray-Darling Basin are welcomed as part of the review and participants should not feel limited by the issues identified in the paper.
A series of questions have been included in the paper to assist stakeholder input on the issues paper and development of an options paper. We want to hear your ideas, suggestions and opinions on the issues paper, in particular the following questions:
- What are your thoughts on how the salinity zoning policy and its administration could be improved?
- Have you had experience in finding and varying site use approval volumes? How could the process and market be improved?
- Do you have any thoughts about other mechanisms for supporting new development within current total site use approval volumes and assigned salinity credits?
- Do you have any thoughts on opportunities to improve flexibility to change crop types, including indicators or metrics that could be used to regulate salinity impacts from irrigation?
- Do you have any feedback about the water use efficiency policy?
- What additional information would be useful to help understand the salinity problem and how it is managed?
Submissions in response to the issues paper are requested by Sunday 30 April 2017.
Provide your feedback by:
How will your input be used?
Feedback on the issues paper will be considered during the preparation of an options paper on irrigation salinity management, which will be out for a second period of consultation in mid to late 2017.
Want to find out more?
The salinity problem is the most significant environmental and socio-economic challenges facing the Murray-Darling Basin.
High salinity levels in the River Murray lead to adverse social, economic and environmental impacts on the South Australian community. For example, high salinity levels reduce crop yield, corrode and damage infrastructure, reduce suitability and drinking quality of water for human use and intensive livestock production, degrade floodplain and wetland systems and affect recreational, tourism and cultural heritage values.
Salt is a natural part of the Murray-Darling Basin with more than 100 billion tonnes held within groundwater systems close to the River Murray. Clearance of native vegetation and irrigation has increased the rate at which saline groundwater moves into the River Murray, above that which would occur naturally.
The salinity zoning policy is currently South Australia’s key policy to address the salinity risk from irrigated agriculture along the River Murray in South Australia. The policy controls the amount of water that can be used for irrigation within defined high, low or high salt interception salinity impact zones and is implemented through the granting and varying of site use approvals.
During consultation on the draft Water Allocation Plan for the River Murray Prescribed Watercourse stakeholders raised queries about the flexibility of the policy to respond to changing irrigation development needs and how improvements in irrigation practices and new science were reflected in the policy. The review is considering the following matters:
- Irrigation trends and current and future effects of irrigation on salinity.
- The effectiveness and efficiency of the salinity zoning policy and associated water use efficiency policy.
- Issues raised by stakeholders including concerns about policy impacts on irrigation development.
- Opportunities to improve South Australia’s Irrigation Salinity Management Policy.
Further background information is available in the Review of Irrigation Salinity Management Policy fact sheets series on the Salinity Zoning Policy, Managing Salinity – the Salinity Registers, the Salinity Zoning Policy, Salinity and the Basin Plan and Irrigation and Salinity in the River Murray. A short video on salinity management is also available: http://www.naturalresources.sa.gov.au/samurraydarlingbasin/water/river-murray/issues-for-river-health/salinity/review-irrigation-salinity-management-policy