Policy & Issues

Water For Irrigation and Production

Water is essential to the viability of Australian wine businesses, to waterways and to ecosystem health. All members of the wine sector must demonstrate good water stewardship in both winemaking and viticulture practices paying careful consideration to our role in protecting the viability of water resources.

Policies for water recovery should be designed to minimise disruption to the supply demand balance and they should generate a neutral or positive net socio-economic impact at both a business and regional level. Australian Grape & Wine is committed to advocating a ‘do no harm philosophy’. This means that all policy response options should be explored before making an intervention that is liable to distort the water market or damage an industry or a regional community.

Australian Grape & Wine acknowledges and accepts the need to ensure critical human and environmental needs are factored into planning. Australian Grape & Wine also supports a National Water Reform that provides for stronger management measures to achieve cultural and economic outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. 

Sustainable water management by Government must be supported by sustainable and responsible use by grape and wine businesses. As an organisation, we have an important role to play by encouraging:

  • Sector wide support for the optimisation of water use through strategic planning and research;
  • Government and industry co-investment in technology that improves efficiency;
  • Adoption by grape and wine producers of best-practice water management to optimise sustainability and profitability of both the resource and individual businesses;
  • That all grape and wine producers measure and report on both water use and waste water generation through Sustainable Winegrowing Australia.

We advocate for:

  • Government and community recognition and support of the wine sector for its water use efficiency and management;
  • Research and innovation to support more efficient irrigation practices and optimising the value gained from our use of water;
  • Research and innovation to support winery water-use efficiency;
  • Access to quality, timely and accessible information regarding water supply and demand to inform evidence-based decision making by irrigators;
  • Government investment in alternative sources of water including in urban environments;
  • Government and industry co-investment in technology that improves efficiency;
  • Water Resource Plans that are based on the appropriate degree of scientific evidence taking into account impacts of climate change on rainfall patterns and plant water requirements;
  • Recognition of activities that intercept significant volumes of surface and/or ground water;
  • A fair and open water trading market;
  • Measures to better govern the conduct of the water market balanced with avoidance of placing undue regulatory burden on irrigators;
  • Minimisation of constraints to trade between States and regions where possible;
  • Greater consistency of rules, processes, and information provision between State jurisdictions;
  • Effective enforcement of compliance by State jurisdictions;
  • That where changes to the way that water is managed are proposed or where water must be recovered, that government or relevant authorities avoid economic, environmental and social impacts to businesses and regions;
  • That Governments do not acquire water for the environment or other purposes through coercive methods nor at prices that distort the market;
  • That environmental flows are optimised and managed in a way that minimises impacts such as flooding; and
  • Government policies consider the value in maintaining diversity of industries across regions.

Effective and proactive engagement between industry and Commonwealth Government, state and territory governments is key to ensuring the sector can prosper in a water secure future.

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