North East Victoria Sustainable Irrigation Plan 2019-24
The North East Sustainable Irrigation Plan sets the strategic direction and identifies activities to ensure sustainable irrigation in the region now and into the future.
The vision of the Plan is:
Prosperous and sustainable irrigation that actively minimises environmental and other impacts in North East Victoria
The long-term outcomes from implementing the Plan in 5-10 years’ time are:
- Maximise the regional productivity from available water
- Minimise adverse impacts on the environment, recreation, other land use and Aboriginal values.
The Plan was developed through extensive consultation with irrigators and the community, including surveys, interviews and public comment periods on a discussion paper and draft document.
Approximately 20% of all agricultural businesses (296 of 1,553) irrigate in the North East region and apply a total of 29,000 megalitres (ML) of water over 11,000 ha, or 2% of the region’s agricultural land, each year. Irrigation is supplementary for a number of businesses in the region due to the relatively high rainfall and prevalence of less intensive grazing enterprises. Irrigation water is applied at 80% of the state average (2.6 ML/ha) producing significantly greater value ($13,000/ML) compared to the Victorian average ($8,000/ML).
Since the first North East Sustainable Irrigation Action Plan (SIAP 2008–2013) significant change has seen increasing pressure on the availability of water and sustainable management of precious water resources for irrigated agriculture. Areas lower in the catchment are being developed as farmers aim to achieve scale with further intensification of irrigated production and transitioning dryland production to irrigation. In addition, there is also a much greater emphasis on cultural and recreational values. These priorities have been incorporated into the renewed Plan.
The Plan considers future challenges in the context of the current prioritised risks and issues in order to remain relevant and meet the needs of irrigators and the broader community. An adaptive management approach will be applied to the implementation of the programs and activities through the monitoring and evaluation of success.