Plenty of wa­ter, but farm­ers don’t rely on it

Campaspe News - - NEWS -

IT SEEMS farm­ers will have to wait a bit longer be­fore a low re­li­a­bil­ity wa­ter al­lo­ca­tion is an­nounced ac­cord­ing to Goul­burn Mur­ray Wa­ter’s lat­est sea­sonal de­ter­mi­na­tion up­date.

GMW river op­er­a­tions plan­ning man­ager An­drew Shields said once re­serves for high re­li­a­bil­ity en­ti­tle­ments for the 2017-18 ir­ri­ga­tion sea­son are met, a low re­li­a­bil­ity al­lo­ca­tion will be con­sid­ered.

‘‘We are well on the way to meet­ing high re­li­a­bil­ity re­serves for 2017-18 — both the Mur­ray and Goul­burn Sys­tems are short about 600 Gl each,’’ Mr Shields said.

‘‘There is still wa­ter flow­ing into the Menindee Lakes from the Dar­ling which will pro­vide an ex­tra wa­ter re­source for the Mur­ray sys­tem and the short­fall.’’

GMW make as­sump­tions on in­flow and sys­tem losses through evap­o­ra­tion and de­liv­ery and if losses are less than an­tic­i­pated they will also go to­wards es­tab­lish­ing en­ti­tle­ments for 2017-18.

‘‘We will be con­tin­u­ally mon­i­tor­ing the sit­u­a­tion and make an­nounce­ments on a monthly ba­sis.’’

Mr Shields said this sea­sons wet con­di­tions had re­duced de­liv­ery by 200 Gl com­pared to the same time last year.

‘‘The dry con­di­tions over the last month have seen us­age start to in­crease. The last time we had a low de­liv­ery year like this one was af­ter the 2010 floods.’’

De­spite this sea­sons wet con­di­tions, wa­ter still re­mains the ma­jor con­cern for many north­ern Vic­to­ria farm­ers

Co­huna dairy farmer Jodie Hay said cur­rent wa­ter pol­icy is out dated and needs to be changed.

One of her ma­jor con­cerns is the in­creas­ing cost of fees.

“The cost to run the sys­tem is falling on a de­creas­ing pool of ir­ri­ga­tors. I think fees need to be at­tached to wa­ter rather than land. Ef­fec­tively peo­ple who in­vest in wa­ter with­out land own­er­ship aren’t con­tribut­ing their fair share to the cost of run­ning the sys­tem,” Mrs Hay said.

Ir­ri­gat­ing land­hold­ers have to pay an en­ti­tle­ment stor­age fee of $13.21Ml, ser­vice fee of $110, an ir­ri­ga­tion ser­vice point fee of $320 per point and an in­fra­struc­ture ac­cess fee of $2896Ml per de­liv­ery share, while a city in­vestor only pays the en­ti­tle­ment stor­age fee.

“Land­hold­ers rely on wa­ter for their liv­ing and this puts them at a real dis­ad­van­tage. The wa­ter in­dus­try changed when un­bundling came in and to­day’s poli­cies are way out of whack.”

Fed­eral Mem­ber for Bendigo Lisa Ch­esters vis­ited north­ern Vic­to­rian farm­ers back in Oc­to­ber and was shocked to hear the im­pact wa­ter pric­ing and pol­icy was hav­ing on grass­roots farm­ers.

Ms Ch­esters is now call­ing for a re­view of wa­ter and wa­ter pric­ing.

In a speech to the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives ear­lier this month, she stated a ro­bust de­bate in wa­ter is re­quired.

‘‘We need to start de­bat­ing and look­ing at the wa­ter mar­ket. I have se­ri­ous con­cerns that many peo­ple are spec­u­lat­ing in the wa­ter mar­ket and they trade on drought. We need to look at how the wa­ter mar­ket is work­ing and we need to make sure we re­view it and it’s fair,’’ Ms Ch­esters said.

‘‘We see price spikes where in 12 months it goes from $300 down to $62 and back up, imag­ine if wages spiked like that? If the govern­ment is se­ri­ous about our agri­cul­ture sec­tor and see­ing growth and jobs we need more than a win­dow dress­ing pol­icy. Peo­ple want to see real ac­tion on wa­ter.’’

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