Deniliquin Pastoral Times
Better, but still concerning
Wednesday’s water allocation statement announcement of 44 per cent for Murray general security is ‘‘concerning for growers across the Murray Valley’’, Murray Irrigation Limited chairman Phil Snowden has said.
Mr Snowden went on to say there is still more work to be done.
‘‘On one hand we are relieved that the biggest rule hurdle, the payback of around 350 gigalitres of water for the BarmahMillewa account has now happened, and we are still seeing inflows coming from all directions into our storages. This gives us confidence that future allocations should improve quickly,’’ he said.
‘‘On the other hand, we are disappointed that the water allocation remains low at 44 per cent.
‘‘This is a critical time for our farmers across the Murray Valley who are watering winter crops and ordering seed for summer plantings.
‘‘It is very clear that our farmers are being impacted by operational rules and poor government policy that needs to change.’’
Mr Snowden said despite most of the dams being full and the calculated probabilities for future allocation improvements this month are far more realistic than they were in August, they still appear to be very conservative.
‘‘This delay in allocations that I think should be coming is holding back the productivity of our region.
‘‘We saw this happen in the last season as well and that is why there is so much carry over in the dams that are now overflowing.
‘‘With high volumes of water still flowing into the catchments I would have thought the chances of 100 per cent allocation in the not-too-distant future is something the New South Wales Government and Murray Darling Basin Authority should be communicating.
‘‘When I compare (Wednesday’s) storage volumes back to 2016, The Murray Valley was on 110 per cent total available water, but today we are on 87 per cent and there is 500 gigalitres more in storage and approximately 500 gigalitres less allocated.
‘‘This gap needs explaining. We are grateful New South Wales agencies are listening, but more work needs to be done.’’
Murray Irrigation is calling on the NSW Government and Murray Darling Basin Authority to work with farmers, to look at greater flexibility and rules that are more equitable — giving those that produce the food and fibre better early allocations, particularly in wet years when there is so much water around.
‘‘These wet years are a chance for farmers to recover from the dry years, along with our regional communities and industries that rely on irrigated agriculture,’’ Mr Snowden said.