But in doing so, Water Minister Tim Holding appears to take the most rosy view of the future climate. The Government told The Sunday Age that it was reasonable to expect the drought to break and water savings to be calculated on the past 100 years of average rainfall, which does not take into account climate change.
Critics of the pipeline — who will be converging on Parliament for a protest on Tuesday — have argued that the Government has inflated the savings likely to come from the upgrade of irrigation infrastructure, saying the figures are based on losses in the system that have not existed for years. They say it is unfair for Melbourne to take water from an area suffering from record low dams and rivers.
Over the past 10 years, losses in the Goulburn-Murray district have averaged 690 billion litres a year. Premier John Brumby and his cabinet continue to talk of losses of about 800 to 900 billion litres a year, based on long-term averages. The Government believes it can save half this water.
A spokesman for Mr Holding said: "We are confident of receiving, on average, 425 billion litres of water savings."