GFAR’s submission to the “Inquiry into water-use efficiency in Australian agriculture”

Murray River

On 31 March 2017, the Centre for Global Food and Resources staff (Dr Adamson, Dr Loch, Associate Professor Wheeler, and Adjunct Professor Connor) made a submission to the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Water Resources, inquiry into water-use efficiency in Australian agriculture.

The submission includes key comments and research that staff at the centre have been involved with about water-use efficiency impacts on farms, closed basin and irrigators.

The key insights in the document are:

  • The need to define water use efficiency and understand the various constraints on achieving differing measures of water use efficiency.
  • Lack of clarity of how the water savings are being transformed into property rights, and the nature of those rights (i.e. their reliability).
  • The downside of efficiency is a loss of flexibility and this may reduce the volume of water that can be traded during droughts. A lack of water in the market in key times may expose private capital investment.
  • To maximise the water obtained from public spending you would need to target the least efficient farmers, which penalises the good farmers.
  • Water-use efficiency could cannibalise the water obtained from the buy-back.
  • On-going investments in modernising irrigation can place on-going distress on irrigators in terms of higher electricity costs in the future, and these investments in water-use efficiency are often considered wasteful by this group of farmers.

Here is the full text of the Submission – SRWUIP enquiry final

This entry was prepared by Dr David Adamson. You can read more about Dr Adamson’s work here.

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