Ms Sheed completed a week-long ‘Truth and Water Tour’ of the northern Basin, with key stakeholders from the Shepparton region.
She said the trip further cemented what she was being told by water users.
“While I want the Goulburn Valley to continue to lead the charge in fresh fruit, vegetable and dairy production, this trip has shown me that we all need to work together and care for every community along the Murray Darling Basin and make sure we all get a fair share of water,” Ms Sheed said.
“What we have learnt from our trip is that there has been enormous and increasing water take from the floodplains in northern NSW and southern Queensland.
“As a result, communities in the lower Darling have suffered from lack of flows and the southern basin is deprived of its contribution from the north.”
She said if northern NSW floodplain irrigators continued to take water from the Basin the way they had been, it would lead to constant connectivity problems along the Darling River and through to the Murray.
The unregulated water take from the northern floodplains and lack of metering and accountability must not continue.
“The current practices we have seen and heard about on our tour of the Northern Basin simply cannot continue if we want to create a sustainable and healthy river system for all communities along the Murray Darling Basin,” Ms Sheed said.
“It opened our eyes to the larger environmental and human impact of the unfair distribution of our most precious resource,” she said.
“It is common sense – and clearly outlined in the Murray Darling Basin Plan – that water for critical human needs should be a priority.”
While the whole Murray Darling Basin had suffered from the devastating drought over recent years, this did not excuse the huge level of development that had occurred on the northern floodplains.
“If NSW does not have proper floodplain harvesting targets in place and takes too much from the rivers, the Darling will continue to degrade, and Victoria will end up supplying more water to South Australia,” Ms Sheed said.
“Meanwhile big irrigators in NSW and Queensland reap the rewards of an unfair situation.”