Data released by the Murray Darling Basin Authority shows irrigation regions have been impacted by water recovery under the Basin Plan.
MDBA executive director Colin Mues said irrigated agriculture in many communities had experienced large changes.
"It was always known that change of the magnitude required to save the basin system would have some unavoidable socio-economic impacts,” he said.
“That is why unprecedented funding of $13 billion was allocated to its implementation.”
Southern Riverina Irrigators chair Gabrielle Coupland said it was testament to the ability of farmers to be able to continue to be productive in the face of such significant changes in irrigation areas.
“It is amazing that we still have irrigation industries in areas where they have had over a third of their water recovered and their irrigated area has been scaled back by the same,” she said.
“It shows the importance of research into new plant varieties and cropping techniques which has so far helped farmers to operate with less water.
“We need more support for research and innovation.
“It also shows infrastructure and modernisation programs such as the On-Farm program and Murray Irrigation’s PIIOP program have been necessary to maximise the water available against the entitlements held in the region.
“But there is only so much adjustment that our irrigation industries can withstand.”
Mrs Coupland said some communities were at the tipping point when it came to water recovery and capacity to adjust.
“The huge differences in impacts across the communities reviewed shows the damage caused by the non-strategic ‘no regrets’ buyback policy that was in place until 2012,” she said.
“We have some regions more significantly impacted than others and their pain is real.
“They are doing all they can to survive but they need to keep the water they have left in their regions to remain viable.
“Our regions have done a lot to meet the water recovery targets of the Government.
“It is now time for other methods, including the SDL Adjustment Mechanism to be implemented to make up the remainder Basin Plan targets.