Brooks in call to ‘end the apathy’
‘‘It’s in your hands to do something about this.’’
That is the main message Barooga’s Chris Brooks wanted to get across to those attending the water crisis meeting in Deniliquin.
Mr Brooks said it was the apathy in the community that had contributed to the NSW Murray Valley being consistently overlooked when it comes to the fair distribution of water within the Murray-Darling Basin.
While acknowledging the apathy is in part a consequence of local voices being ignored for too long, Mr Brooks said yesterday’s meeting was the perfect catalyst to stand up and be heard again.
Mr Brooks has called the community to action to speak out against what he believes is a failed water sharing plan.
‘‘This meeting came about because of a letter I wrote a few weeks ago to the local papers regarding our representation. We need a united message going forward.
‘‘At the time of writing my letter to the SRN (Wednesday, August 8) there were 5.6 million megalitres of water in the four Murray storages.
‘‘The allocation of that was for two million to run the river, another 2.4 million to Victoria and 1.2 million to New South Wales — so we only got one third of one half.
‘‘By law New South Wales and Victoria have to contribute an equal volume to South Australia, so of our 1200 gigalitres our part at this stage to South Australia is 350 gigalitres. The remaining 900 goes out to various things and at Murray Irrigation we have zero per cent allocation.
‘‘If that is a water sharing plan, it’s a different family to mine.
‘‘South Australia does a good job of demanding an allocation, and so has Griffith, but there is a huge amount of apathy among growers, which I found when I was a board member (of Murray Irrigation).’’
Mr Brooks said making the zero allocation more difficult to comprehend is how the parcels of water for other states, South Australia in particular, is being used.
‘‘At the time of writing the letter there was 8600 megalitres a day going through the weir at Yarrawonga and 6500 of that was flowing over the South Australian border where they had 29 barrages open with water going to the sea.
‘‘It’s a disgusting and disgraceful waste of a resource when I have crops dying under a centre pivot, staff staff asking if they still have a job and I have the bank asking if I’m going to make a payment this month.
‘‘Are we getting a message across? I don’t think so.’’
Mr Brooks said Monday’s meeting could be the turning point, saying it was great to see all the different irrigation organisations come together on a single issue.
He said he was particularly encouraged by the support of Federal Member for Farrer Sussan Ley and NSW Member for Murray Austin Evans in being part of the day and supporting the push for more productive water to be released, as well as Victorian Member for Shepparton Suzanna Sheed who was in the audience.
Barooga irrigator Chris Brooks.