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The Hon John Cobb MP Shadow Minister for Regional Development and Water Security

The CSRIO reports on water availability for the Lachlan and Macquarie-Castlereagh regions highlight the need for the Rudd Government to follow the Coalition's lead in committing $5.9 billion to modernise irrigation systems.

Mr Cobb said according to the Minister the CSIRO's 'best estimate' (median) of climate change by 2030 indicates a reduction in surface water availability of 8 per cent in the Macquarie-Castlereagh and 11 per cent in the Lachlan.

The CSIRO report also says there would also be four per cent less water for irrigation in the Macquarie-Castlereagh and 8 per cent less in the Lachlan

Mr Cobb said the Coalition Government's $10 billion National Plan for Water Security guaranteed the Nation's food security for future generations while also returning water to the environment and increasing water security for urban communities.

''Under our plan $5.9 billion was to be allocated to modernise Australian irrigation infrastructure, which included $3.13 billion for in system efficiency gains and $1.635 billion for on farm efficiency gains.

''In the Macquarie-Castlereagh Valley under the Coalition plan productivity could be maintained and improved as well as increasing flows to environmental icons like the Macquarie Marshes by modernising water delivery and on farm irrigation systems.

''Our projected savings in the lower Macquarie irrigation area alone are around 70,000 Mls or over 10% of the total irrigation water allocation for the Macquarie Valley.

''With seven separate schemes in the Macquarie Valley below Dubbo by modernising and investing in these schemes we can negate the predicted drop in water availability in the Valley, without sacrificing our future prosperity and environmental sustainability.

''Mr Cobb said given the majority of surface water extractions are done by individuals rather than large schemes in the Lachlan Valley, there are potentially large savings in working with groups of irrigators on water transfer and on-farm efficiency savings which can negate the drop in water availability.

''Irrigation is vital to our region and it is both possible and feasible to ensure that our agricultural and mining industries can survive and prosper as well as securing more water for the environment and urban communities,'' Mr Cobb said.

More information about the CSIRO Murray-Darling Basin Sustainable Yields project and copies of the Lachlan and Macquarie-Castlereagh reports can be found at