The Hon Tony Burke MP, Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities and the Hon Jay Weatherill, Premier South Australia, acknowledged the challenging nature of overcoming the issues surrounding the Murray-Darling Basin in their opening addresses at the joint conference for the International Commission on Irrigation and Drainage (ICID), and Irrigation Australia Limited's (IAL) conference and tradeshow held in Adelaide this week.
Premier Weatherill made a direct and impassioned speech in which he called the consequences for South Australia of the use of the Murray-Darling Basin from upstream states unacceptable, with the impacts affecting the culture, business, economy and environment of his state.
Whilst acknowledging the concept of riparian rights- the notion of responsible and reasonable use of water - the Premier expressed his frustration with the systematic effects of the Murray-Darling Basin experienced by South Australians."The health of the river in South Australia is determined by our decisions, but also the upstream state's decisions and policies.
"If you are an irrigator from an upstream state, I have to be frank with you, your state has taken too much water and you'll have to give some back.
"A viable future for our Murray-Darling Basin relies on all Australians standing together," said Premier Weatherill.
Ian Atkinson, CEO IAL, and Peter Toome, Chair, IAL, welcomed the delegates representing 56 ICID member countries to the four day conference. They also had a strong message about the role of management in finding the solutions Australia needs."Better irrigation is about people. It is easy to get caught up with the technology, but we need both, the best in engineering and the best in management practices," said Mr Atkinson.
Delegates at the conference will hear over 200 speakers discuss pertinent issues related to water management including, Adaptive Flood Management, Irrigation, Water Quality and Environmental Flows, and Country Policies and Development of Water for Bio-Energy and Food.
Coinciding with the conference, the trade show sees over 100 irrigation specialists and suppliers come together under one roof.
Other key note speakers include Dr Gao Zhanyi, President of ICID; Mr Nick Fleming, Chief Sustainability Officer for the global team of Sinclair Knight Merz; Mr Laurie Arthur, irrigation farmer of NSW and WA; Dr Aditi Mukherji, Senior Social Scientist for the International Water Management Institute (IWMI); and Dr Mac Kirby, leading researcher and consultant.
The full conference information and program can be found at www.irrigation.org.au/2012