‘San­ity’ sought on wa­ter

Ir­ri­ga­tors work­ing on sub­mis­sion to change pro­posed pric­ing pol­icy

Gatton Star - - INTO RURAL - Lach­lan Mcivor lach­[email protected]­ton­star.com.au

IR­RI­GA­TORS on the Cen­tral Lock­yer Wa­ter Sup­ply Schemes are hope­ful “san­ity will pre­vail” af­ter a fixed price im­ple­men­ta­tion was pro­posed.

It is set to come into ef­fect within the next two years with the in­tro­duc­tion of wa­ter al­lo­ca­tions.

Those ac­cess­ing ground­wa­ter and sur­face wa­ter via Lai­d­ley and Lock­yer creeks that recharge from the schemes cur­rently pay for wa­ter based on vol­u­met­ric con­sump­tion only.

But it is pre­dicted by the be­gin­ning of the new four-year price path from 2021-24, a Part A fixed charge will be in­tro­duced that will have ir­ri­ga­tors pay a fixed charge for the first time.

Re­ly­ing on the se­verely un­der­per­form­ing as­sets of Lake Claren­don and Lake Dyer, farm­ers will ef­fec­tively be pay­ing more for wa­ter they’re not even able to use, re­gard­less of avail­abil­ity or re­leases from the scheme.

The pro­posal was pre­sented to Lock­yer ir­ri­ga­tors two weeks ago by Se­qwa­ter in prepa­ra­tion for the up­com­ing re­view of ir­ri­ga­tion prices.

Lock­yer Wa­ter Users Fo­rum chair­man Paul Emmerson said the de­ci­sion didn’t make any prac­ti­cal sense, par­tic­u­larly in present dry con­di­tions.

“What they’re propos­ing is go­ing to de­stroy well-es­tab­lished, prof­itable en­ter­prises, some of which are gen­er­a­tional fam­ily farms that have sur­vived ev­ery­thing else that’s been thrown at them,” Mr Emmerson said.

“Cen­tral Lock­yer ir­ri­ga­tors are work­ing on a joint sub­mis­sion with Se­qwa­ter that will be sub­mit­ted to the State Gov­ern­ment’s Queens­land Com­pe­ti­tion Au­thor­ity in an ef­fort to try and change the pol­icy.”

Fo­rum spokesman Gor­don Van der Est said some­thing needed to be done.

“If we don’t get good rain and get some wa­ter into Lake Claren­don and Bill Gunn Dam this sum­mer, farm pro­duc­tion will be se­verely im­pacted. Both dams are cur­rently empty and be­low dead stor­age,” he said.

“Imag­ine you’re get­ting a wa­ter bill and hav­ing to pay for wa­ter when you can’t grow any­thing be­cause there’s no wa­ter in the dams. How are you meant to pay the bill if you can­not gen­er­ate an in­come?”

He praised the ef­forts of Se­qwa­ter for work­ing along­side ir­ri­ga­tors to fig­ure out a more eq­ui­table plan.

“I’m hope­ful that san­ity will pre­vail.”

PHOTO: LACH­LAN MCIVOR

WOR­RIED: Lock­yer Wa­ter Users Fo­rum spokesman Gor­don Van der Est (left) and chair­man Paul Emmerson (right) chat to Jim Mcdon­ald.

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