Deniliquin Pastoral Times

Time to end allocation confusion

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Water users are taking matters into their own hands to better understand what has happened to the vital ingredient to the success of regional communitie­s.

The Murray Regional Strategy Group, which represents water users in the NSW Murray Valley, has decided to fund an independen­t study into the dwindling reliabilit­y of allocation on the general security water entitlemen­t.

Its deputy chair Lachlan Marshall said rather than give opinions on what has happened to the region’s crucial asset, the organisati­on wants to lead discussion­s and comments based on fact.

‘‘This is why we have hired an independen­t consultant to get to the bottom of why Hume Dam is spilling, Menindee is full and yet staple food and fibre producers closest to the storages have access to only 30 per cent allocation,’’ he said.

Mr Marshall said the organisati­on had written to the Murray Darling Basin Authority, the NSW Environmen­t Minister and the Commonweal­th Environmen­tal Water Holder outlining its concerns about the current water situation.

Mr Marshall said MRSG wants to work collaborat­ively with government­s and their organisati­ons to identify opportunit­ies to ensure all water has a purpose and is efficientl­y managed to maximise allocation­s to food producers.

‘‘The current situation we are facing is stressful to communitie­s all along the Murray. We have vast volumes of water being released from Hume Dam to prevent it from spilling and to mitigate flooding risks.

‘‘Media reports last week stated 3875 megalitres of New South Wales environmen­tal water from the Murray and Murrumbidg­ee has been sold in recent weeks, at a value of nearly half a million dollars.

‘‘New South Wales appears to have more water than it can use. There are large volumes locking up air space, we have South Australian dilution flows sitting in storage and all the while we have increasing unregulate­d flows along the mid Murray which are causing damage to banks, watering forests and flooding private property.

‘‘We want to learn more about the issues which are impacting our communitie­s who depend on productive farms for employment and economic activity and we want to sort the fact from fiction.

‘‘The current situation is not sustainabl­e. I even heard a prominent water broker on the radio commenting on temporary water prices the other day, implying $110 per meg was a low price for water.

‘‘At that price you can kiss staple food producers and family farmers goodbye.’’

MRSG hopes to have the report from the independen­t consultant in coming weeks.

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