Murray-Darling Basin Authority chief executive Phillip Glyde has acknowledged the struggle Goulburn Valley irrigators face under the basin plan.
Speaking in Shepparton last Wednesday, Mr Glyde said there were two sides to the environmental water recovery debate.
Mr Glyde said some communities were really struggling and worried about further water recovery.
‘‘On the other hand, there are people who want to have access to the funds that will improve the efficiency of their business,’’ Mr Glyde said.
The community profiles report the basin authority released last month showed the plan contributed to loss of employment in the region.
Under the plan, the fate of a further 450Gl of environmental up-water is dependent on a neutral or beneficial socio-economic impact on communities.
‘‘The way that water is returned is the trick — try to make sure it’s done in the most economically neutral way you can,’’ Mr Glyde said.
‘‘Investment in infrastructure is a better way in terms of social and economic costs than buying the water, our study shows.’’
The Murray-Darling Basin Plan was implemented in 2012 to control the flow of water through the river system after years of unregulated irrigation.
Mr Glyde met with Federal Member for Murray Damian Drum at Shepparton business Geoffrey Thompson Fruit Packing to discuss the impact of the basin plan on the region during the past six years, putting the 450Gl and the socio-economic test at the forefront of the conversation.
Mr Drum said water policy was the single most important issue his electorate faced.
‘‘We need to balance the needs of productive agriculture and the environment,’’ Mr Drum said.
Mr Glyde toured the Goulburn Valley, listening to the concerns of food processors, growers, irrigators and farming communities regarding the basin plan.