The Saturday Paper – Margaret Simons 4/7/2020
“When you’ve got 60 or 70 per cent of the activity in that market with prices that are zero or non-commercial, then you know that technically the market isn’t real,” says Loch. “I’ve spent years studying water prices and I came home after reflecting on all this and said to my wife last night, ‘Ask me how much the price of water is’, and when she did, I responded, ‘What do you want it to be?’”….
“Australia leads the world in commodifying water. The Murray–Darling Basin markets were created by a series of reforms from the 1980s and ’90s in which water licences were separated from the ownership of land.” ….
“It’s impossible for ordinary citizens to find out who owns water, or who has made a trade. Trading data is collected by the states, with variations and inconsistencies between jurisdictions, and then is aggregated by the Bureau of Meteorology – which “cleanses” the data, excluding low- and high-priced trades before calculating average water prices.”
“Our key concern relates to the water market policy that seeks to appropriately manage the third party hydrological and environmental impacts of changes in the timing and location of water use that arise from water trading activities.
There are a number of legal requirements in regard to protecting the environment from the impacts of water trading. The current increase in water trading to downstream developments in the Murray southern connected Basin is causing significant environmental impacts that are not being adequately addressed.
Under the Commonwealth Water Act 2007 Schedule 3 restrictions to water trading are required when:
- avoiding environmental impacts.
- protecting water quality.
- facing delivery constraints
- geographical features are being impacted
- major indigenous, cultural heritage or spiritual significance would be impacted.
1. Seasonal flow limits must be assigned to rivers at risk similar to the limits on the Barmah Choke.
2. Establish a National Water Trading Exchange to increase transparency and improve capacity to better manage third-party and environmental impacts.
3. Increase Federal responsibility for the alignment of State regulations and polices. Many of the third-party and environmental impacts are the result of, or enhanced by, state divisions and misalignment of policies.
Lifeblood Alliance consists of environmental, Indigenous and community groups committed to keeping the rivers, wetlands and aquifers of the Murray-Darling Basin healthy for the benefit of current and future generations.
Australian Conservation Foundation, NSW Nature Conservation Council, Conservation Council of South Australia, Environment Victoria, Murray Lower Darling Rivers Indigenous Nations, Northern Basin Aboriginal Nations, River Lakes and Coorong Action Group, Environmental Farmers Network, Inland Rivers Network, National Parks Association of NSW, Goulburn Valley Environment Group, Healthy Rivers Dubbo and Central West Environment Council.