Irrigators can tender for water
Environmental water made available yesterday will be accessible in the NSW Murray.
The Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder has announced the sale of 20 gigalitres of Goulburn Valley water through a tender process to open on Monday, September 3.
Southern Riverina Irrigators welcomed the sale which can be accessible to irrigators in the Murray system through the Southern Connected Basin trade rules.
‘‘According to the Victorian Water Register, there is currently capacity to trade over 180 gigalitres from the Goulburn to the New South Wales Murray so Murray irrigators can participate in this tender,’’ SRI chair Gabrielle Coupland said.
‘‘This announcement is very welcome at a time when people are desperate to finish the crops they have already invested in.
‘‘Even though it it only 20 gigalitres, it will add to the volume available in the consumptive pool at a crucial time in the cropping cycle and every little bit helps.’’
Parents, teachers and community members inspected the hard work of the Finley High School agriculture team last week.
The ag team hosted an open day at the school, to which community members were invited.
Cattle and sheep were shown and parents were taken on a tour of the facilities by students.
Agriculture teacher Gary Webb said it was a proud occasion for the entire ag team.
‘‘The students can be extremely happy with what they’ve done.
‘‘The kids go home every night and talk about what they did for the day, so parents were keen to see what they do on a daily basis.
‘‘People who donate animals to the school were also invited to check the progress of their animal.
‘‘They were impressed to think over six months ago their animal was running around a paddock and now it’s 500kg and being led by a small Year 7 girl.’’
Ag team supporter David Bolton, from Shepparton, was on hand to clip the cattle, and incoming principal Jeff Ward attended to get a first glimpse of what the ag team does.
The CEWH announcement is on the back of the NSW Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton announcing 15GL of environmental water to be sold across the state, with proceeds from the sale to be held in trust with the Department of Primary Industries to be used for priority drought projects.
‘‘It is great that the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder has followed the lead of New South Wales,’’ Mrs Coupland said.
‘‘We have been calling for a release of water since July when it became obvious that intervention would be needed given the grave rainfall outlooks.
‘‘Both of these sales show there is scope for flexibility within the current rules.
‘‘As irrigators we are fundamentally aware of the property right and we would never ask for that right to be compromised. But if we work within the rules or look for ways we can facilitate a water release that is fair and equitable, in years like this all avenues must be explored.
‘‘We said we would be happy to beg, borrow or buy water to finish our crops and the New South Wales Environment Minister and now the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder has heard our call and taken the first step.
‘‘It would be great if other water managers followed suit with some sort of offering.
‘‘If this sale was somehow complemented by an allocation announcement at the start of September it would do amazing things for morale as well as give us productive cropping outcomes boosting our regional economies.’’
SRI has been talking to a range of stakeholders since July to try to identify a way to get water released for productive use to allow irrigators to finish grain, fodder and hay crops at a time when national feed stocks are desperately needed.
‘‘We are very pleased to have these two announcements of sales that, despite small volumes, send a message that people are looking for solutions,’’ Mrs Coupland said.
Finley High School agriculture team members preparing for their open day last week.