Victoria agrees to central control over rivers

Published: Wednesday 30 April 2008

The Australian state Victoria has finally agreed to sign the Murray-Darling Basin national water plan. Victoria agreed to the plan in return for a $1 billion (us $0.9 billion) to upgrade its irrigation system and as water security for Victorian farmers.

The plan--which envisages central government takeover of the river system since it could not be managed properly by competing state governments--had been stalled for more than a year, with Victoria refusing to sign. The state had contended that the plan would disadvantage its farmers. Victoria's water shares will now be locked in until 2019.

Australian states also sought to establish a national body to govern the system, which will impose a sustainable cap on the amount of water that can be taken out of the rivers and groundwater systems. The states will have the right to disagree with the cap and ask the authority to reassess it.

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