Help for­est or farm­ers?

Shepparton News - Country News - - NEWS -

The Na­tion­als have ac­cused the Vic­to­rian Premier of re­fus­ing to help se­cure more wa­ter for drought-stricken dairy farms in north­ern Vic­to­ria.

The party says up to 82 Gl of wa­ter will flood into Gun­bower For­est, near Co­huna, by No­vem­ber — while dairy farm­ers in the re­gion are strug­gling to main­tain their herds through this de­vel­op­ing drought.

‘‘The Gun­bower For­est wa­ter is enough to keep more than 80 fam­ily dairy farms op­er­at­ing and pro­duc­ing more than 200 mil­lion litres of milk over sum­mer,’’ Shadow Agri­cul­ture Min­is­ter Peter Walsh said.

He said some dairy farm­ers had al­ready made the heart­break­ing de­ci­sion to sell off en­tire herds due to the drought.

‘‘All we got to­day from the Premier for Mel­bourne was con­fir­ma­tion he doesn’t have even a ba­sic un­der­stand­ing of how wa­ter is al­lo­cated in north­ern Vic­to­ria, and he still doesn’t seem to care about the dire predica­ment some of our farm­ers are in,’’ Mr Walsh said.

‘‘In these dry con­di­tions, wa­ter flow­ing into Gun­bower For­est does not mimic nat­u­ral con­di­tions at all — it’s do­ing the ex­act op­po­site while the hard-work­ing peo­ple who put food on our ta­bles are los­ing their liveli­hoods.’’

Shadow Wa­ter Min­is­ter Steph Ryan said wa­ter re­sources must be used ef­fi­ciently, es­pe­cially in a pro­longed dry spell.

‘‘Farm­ers are right to ques­tion whether the Gun­bower wa­ter­ing is the best use of a pre­cious re­source right now when tem­po­rary wa­ter is trad­ing around $330/Ml and dairy farm­ers need every drop they can to sus­tain their herds and grow fod­der,’’ Ms Ryan said.

‘‘At a time when farm­ers are des­per­ate for wa­ter, Daniel An­drews and Lisa Neville should be look­ing at every op­tion to help them — not ig­nor­ing le­git­i­mate ques­tions and pre­dictably try­ing to shift blame to the Com­mon­wealth.

‘‘We should be us­ing every drop of wa­ter we can to sup­port our farm­ers to save their farms and their liveli­hoods.’’

North Cen­tral Catch­ment Man­age­ment Au­thor­ity project de­liv­ery ex­ec­u­tive man­ager Tim Shana­han said Gun­bower For­est needed a drink.

‘‘The cur­rent wa­ter­ing pro­gram is part of a long-term strat­egy to re­store the health of the for­est, within the re­stric­tions of al­lo­ca­tions and cur­rent in­fra­struc­ture and ca­pac­ity, and help build re­silience for fu­ture dry years while wa­ter is still avail­able.’’

Mr Shana­han said reg­u­la­tion had al­tered the fre­quency of wa­ter go­ing into the for­est, par­tic­u­larly dur­ing dry years.

‘‘In­ter­est­ingly, if all the reg­u­lat­ing struc­tures were re­moved, Gun­bower For­est would have re­ceived wa­ter in seven of the 10 years of the re­cent mil­len­nium drought, de­spite the dry,’’ he said.

‘‘In­stead, with river reg­u­la­tion, only a small amount of wa­ter en­tered the for­est in three of those 10 years, reach­ing only some of the wet­lands and none of the broader flood­plain.’’

Wa­ter use ques­tioned . . . Should Gun­bower For­est be flooded this spring?

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.