Bruce Diffey talks water
AS we close on a year of below- average rainfall and temporary water in excess of $240 per megalitre (ML) plus on farm delivery charges, every farmer should spend time to analyse the return on money invested in water.
With dairy prices reduced, farmers need to try and have more control on the inputs, for example weighing up Goulburn Murray Irrigation District (GMID) water versus bore water if available versus direct diverter from rivers, or dam construction and winterfill.
In May this year I was involved with the transfer of 110ML for a winterfill dam.
The site was moved down stream but the delay on construction approval jeopardised the completion.
The North East Catchment Management Authority was slow to approve the amended site move and did not prioritise the new amended site.
It is a concern that there are limited times for construction of dams and if delays occur with the likes of Goulburn Murray Water (GMW), the local shire, or catchment management authority, a full year may be lost.
The process is lengthy and needs to be streamlined, for the works are dictated by seasonal conditions, not by legislation for response times.
Slowly, confidence is returning to the North East of Victoria with approximately six irrigation dams set to be constructed in summer 2016-17.
The use for irrigation is for fat lamb, hazelnuts, walnuts, and lucerne.
I have written about carryover and spill rules for Victoria.
The over- generous carryover is leading to more and more forward water being delivered up to August 2016.
Because this water is signed at more than $250 for NSW and Victoria, it creates a floor price for the August 2016 temporary market.
Even with average rainfall for winter, very low allocation for general security in the NSW Murray and GMID for July/ August will be issued, bringing me back to the issue of inputs and choices.
Bore construction for deep lead water is expensive, but more and more I am seeing people make the commitment as the capital costs spread over five years and are offset by no delivery charges and control of when you irrigate, often with no reduction or allocation restrictions to you.
The key is the quality and risk of finding quantity.
Better information is becoming available from GMW hydrology and the Office of Water NSW.
Farmers need to do research on the return on capital invested and make a decision on how to secure water for their business.
Syndicated river diversions are another option that may be available.
Do not give up or complain about the price of water.
Be positive and spend time on your options.