Farm­ers not keen to fund bro­ken me­ters

Gatton Star - - NEWS -

FARM­ERS have been left fum­ing af­ter the State Gov­ern­ment said it would re­coup costs to up­grade bro­ken ir­ri­ga­tion wa­ter me­ters across the Cen­tral Lock­yer catch­ment.

With 54 per cent of me­ters la­belled “not work­ing”, Se­qwa­ter said it would pro­vide $2.5 mil­lion to fix the me­ters, which would be re­couped from ir­ri­ga­tors.

Lock­yer MP Jim Mcdon­ald said he, along with the ir­ri­ga­tors, did not ac­cept the pro­posal, and called upon the State Gov­ern­ment to pro­vide the money as a grant.

Last month, the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment an­nounced it would pro­vide $2.5m from the Com­mu­nity De­vel­op­ment Grant Pro­gram to­wards the $5m project to fix bro­ken me­ters.

“The State Gov­ern­ment should fol­low the lead of the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment and pro­vide the $2.5m as a grant,” Mr Mcdon­ald said.

He said ir­ri­ga­tors were pay­ing Se­qwa­ter for wa­ter and the pay­ment in­cluded man­age­ment of the scheme as well as main­te­nance and re­pairs for me­ters.

“The bro­ken me­ters are Se­qwa­ter’s prob­lem, not the ir­ri­ga­tors who have al­ready paid for them once,” he said.

At present, the Lock­yer Wa­ter Users Fo­rum is in ne­go­ti­a­tions with the State Gov­ern­ment to have the money granted to the ir­ri­ga­tors. Pres­i­dent Paul Emmerson said the de­ci­sion to de­velop a wa­ter man­age­ment plan had come from the State Gov­ern­ment.

“Our work­ing with the gov­ern­ment to de­velop their plan should be at their costs, not a cost to the users,” he said.

“As there is no ben­e­fit on the cur­rent sys­tem where ir­ri­ga­tors have been pay­ing for a sig­nif­i­cantly un­der-per­form­ing sys­tem for many years al­ready, we don’t see they should have to pay any more.”

Mr Emmerson said the project would re­place old wa­ter me­ters with new teleme­try that would in-turn save the gov­ern­ment money.

“Not only will the in­for­ma­tion be more timely and use­ful, but it will cost sig­nif­i­cantly less to an­a­lyse, and main­tain,” he said.

Min­is­ter for Nat­u­ral Re­sources, En­ergy and Mines An­thony Lyn­ham said he would con­tinue to work co-op­er­a­tively with farm­ers.

“As I have said, re­coup­ing costs from the user is the norm,” he said.

“But the cost re­cov­ery as­so­ci­ated with Se­qwa­ter’s con­tri­bu­tion to sup­port new me­ters and teleme­try for the Cen­tral Lock­yer is yet to be de­ter­mined.” — Ali Kuchel

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