The Macquarie Matters campaign is being fired up in response to the Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) asking for more water from its northern end.
Macquarie River Food and Fibre (MRFF) chairman Michael Egan said the campaign aimed at halting the recovery of water from the “Northern Basin” would move to the lobbying of politicians including cross-benchers.
“We’re not giving up at all,” he said on Tuesday.
“It is not about irrigators any more, it is about communities—like Warren, Trangie and Narromine.
“We’ve lost our productive capacity that fuels community spirit and prosperity.
“They have decimated our local towns, communities and regional economies because of what they have done in the past.”
The MDBA has recommended the water recovery target for the Northern Basin of 390 gigalitres (GL) be reduced to 320 GL following four years of “extensive research and consultation”.
Under the recommendation the Northern Basin would have to provide another 41GL of water on top of the 279GL already recovered.
Mr Egan confirmed that 12 GL would be returned to the Macquarie Valley, among valleys “over-recovered” in the past.
“But that doesn’t go anywhere near enough to restoring the balance,” he said.
The proposed return of 12 GL was the result of “reverse engineering” by the MDBA. “They bought the water before the basin plan came out,” Mr Egan said.
MDBA chief executive Phillip Glyde said the recommendation to reduce the target depended on commitments from the federal, Queensland and NSW governments to implement a range of measures aimed at improving water management in the north.
He said research confirmed that remaining at 390GL would have harmful social and economic outcomes for some irrigation communities.
“It's all about balancing the social, economic, and environmental impacts of the basin plan along with its long-term benefits,” Mr Glyde said.