​Media Release

Benefits flow to Victorian and South Australian irrigators from water sale​

19 November​

Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, has welcomed the successful sale of 22.864 gigalitres of Commonwealth environmental water allocations to irrigators in Victoria and South Australia.

Minister Joyce said this was the first sale of Commonwealth water in the southern Murray–Darling Basin, and allowed Victorian and South Australian irrigators and primary producers to purchase much needed water to support farm production.

“The Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder (CEWH) received 525 eligible bids as part of this three-day open tender process, and 53 of these were successful based on best value for money,” Minister Joyce said.

“I was pleased to see the availability of smaller parcels of water, with a minimum of 30 megalitres—giving greater opportunity to small irrigation businesses to benefit from this tender.

“I recognise that around $282 per megalitre is a high price to pay for water. However I am heartened that the bullish soft commodity prices for a number of agriculture industries means farmers still see value in investing in water to grow and finish product despite the price and tough seasonal conditions.

“With ongoing dry conditions across many parts of Victoria, this sale will help give irrigators greater security and stability, supporting productivity and profitability on-farm, as well as delivering environmental and community benefits.

“The CEWH will use the proceeds of the sale to fund positive environmental outcomes in the Basin—it’s a great example of how economic and environmental benefits can go hand in hand, and we can manage our water resources to ensure the needs of both irrigators and the environment can be met.

“We are committed to managing the Murray–Darling Basin with long-term vision to ensure everyone can share the economic, social and environmental benefits of this vital resource.

“We are delivering the Basin Plan in a way that maximises social and economic benefits while also delivering the necessary environmental outcomes.

“This is why we are investing an average of $2.5 million per day in infrastructure upgrades both on-farm and off-farm across the Basin—work which is not only delivering environmental water savings but increasing productivity and flexibility for many farm businesses at the same time.

“We have also legislated a cap on water purchases of 1500 gigalitres to help protect the social and economic wellbeing of the many Basin communities that are dependent on farming.”

More information on the trade of Commonwealth environmental water is available at environment.gov.au/water/cewo/trade​.