Work­ing to find wa­ter so­lu­tion

Shepparton News - Country News - - NEWS -

A frank dis­cus­sion with (then) Prime Min­is­ter Mal­colm Turn­bull has de­liv­ered a re­al­ity check re­gard­ing drought con­di­tions in the Mur­ray Ir­ri­ga­tion re­gion ac­cord­ing to South­ern Rive­rina Ir­ri­ga­tors chair Gabrielle Cou­p­land.

Speak­ing with Mr Turn­bull on Fri­day, Au­gust 17, Mrs Cou­p­land said the re­gion cur­rently found it­self in a unique po­si­tion of hav­ing crops in the ground with two pos­si­ble out­comes likely.

‘‘With wa­ter, we fin­ish crops for grain, bulk them out for hay or grow pas­tures — all of which can ease the pres­sure of the drought,’’ she said.

‘‘With­out wa­ter, we can watch those crops fail and we be­come part of the drought prob­lem.’’

Mrs Cou­p­land said she spent time dis­cussing with Mr Turn­bull how peo­ple in the dis­trict had pre­pared for drought but how the con­tin­ued dry meant that farm­ers had to look at con­tin­gen­cies.

‘‘I gave him a per­sonal ex­am­ple about putting in 1.5 km of fenc­ing so we can start graz­ing off wheat and we’re work­ing out which crops to ir­ri­gate with our small amount of wa­ter and which ones we might spray out — so I high­lighted the tough de­ci­sions we’re mak­ing ev­ery day,’’ she said.

‘‘He heard us and he un­der­stands that the best thing he can do is iden­tify a par­cel of wa­ter for ir­ri­ga­tors.’’

SRI has been work­ing with en­vi­ron­men­tal wa­ter hold­ers, river oper­a­tors, Fed­eral and state gov­ern­ments and Mur­ray Ir­ri­ga­tion for more than a month to find a par­cel of wa­ter for this re­gion to ac­cess im­me­di­ately.

SRI’s call for ir­ri­ga­tors to re­ceive ac­cess to more South­ern Rive­rina Ir­ri­ga­tors chair Gabrielle Cou­p­land wa­ter comes after the Speak Up Cam­paign made a sim­i­lar plea, calling for ir­ri­ga­tors to re­ceive ac­cess to en­vi­ron­men­tal wa­ter to grow 1.5 mil­lion bales of hay for drought-af­fected farm­ers.

‘‘We re­spect­fully made re­quests of the CEWH and the MDBA and now we have es­ca­lated that into the po­lit­i­cal arena. We are not be­ing pre­scrip­tive about the amount or the source of wa­ter as we don’t want to limit our op­tions. There are no sil­ver bul­lets in a sea­son as chal­leng­ing as this is,’’ Mrs Cou­p­land said.

‘‘When the Prime Min­is­ter calls, you know the mes­sage is getting to the places where a dif­fer­ence can be made. We won’t stop. There are still crops, pas­tures and stock that can ben­e­fit from wa­ter in the next cou­ple of weeks. Time­li­ness is crit­i­cal and we will keep the pres­sure on to search for a so­lu­tion.’’

Hav­ing also spo­ken to NSW Wa­ter Min­is­ter Niall Blair and Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Michael McCor­mack, Mrs Cou­p­land said rep­re­sen­ta­tions had also been made to Fed­eral Wa­ter Min­is­ter David Lit­tleproud.

With­out wa­ter, we can watch those crops fail and we be­come part of the drought prob­lem.

South­ern Rive­rina Ir­ri­ga­tors chair Gabrielle Cou­p­land told (then) Prime Min­is­ter Mal­colm Turn­bull that the group will con­tinue to push for more wa­ter for farm­ers as the drought con­tin­ues.

‘‘There is no doubt there is an ap­petite to help as long as it can be done eq­ui­tably and re­spon­si­bly and we will con­tinue to work with any­one we need to in or­der to find a work­able so­lu­tion,’’ she said.

Stead­fast . . .

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