Survey of water entitlement sellers under the Restoring the Balance in the Murray-Darling Basin Program
Marsden Jacob Associates prepared for Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, June 2012
- Survey of water entitlement sellers under the Restoring the Balance in the Murray-Darling Basin Program (PDF - 955 KB) | Survey of water entitlement sellers under the Restoring the Balance in the Murray-Darling Basin(Word - 1,205 KB)
Since the Commonwealth began purchasing water under the Restoring the Balance in the Murray-Darling Basin (RtB) program, some stakeholders have raised concerns about the potential for negative impacts on irrigators and rural communities.
The department commissioned Marsden Jacob Associates Pty Ltd to independently evaluate the impact of water sales to the Commonwealth on participating irrigators.
More than 500 irrigators who had applied to sell, or sold water to the Commonwealth between 2008-09 and late 2011 participated in the survey.
Almost 80 per cent of those interviewed said that selling water to the Commonwealth was a positive decision for them.
The principal reason for selling water was to generate cashflow with the intention of either retiring debt (30 per cent), supplementing farm income (22 per cent), or funding on-farm improvements (8 per cent).
The majority of proceeds from water sales are spent within the local region.
Almost all of those who sold their entitlement to the government and exited farming found alternative local employment, or retired in their local community.
Around 60 per cent of those interviewed sold part of their entitlement to the government. Around half of these sellers said the water sale had not affected farm production in a significant way.
The survey results suggest that many irrigators who sell some of their water to the government have found ways to change their farming operations to maintain production levels.
Overall, there was strong support among surveyed sellers for the resumption of general tenders in 2013. Those who supported the resumption out-weighed those opposed to it by two to one.
Implications of the Survey
This study provides a better understanding of how the government's buyback program has affected participating irrigators, and their local communities. It also highlights that public perceptions about the impact of the government's environmental water buyback program are not necessarily supported by the evidence provided by this report and other research.
More details please visit: Restoring the Balance in the Murray-Darling Basin.