www.coun­trynews.com.au Wa­ter use granted

Shepparton News - Country News - - NEWS - By Alana Chris­tensen

En­vi­ron­men­tal wa­ter hold­ers have an­swered farm­ers’ pleas, with a to­tal of 35 Gl of en­vi­ron­men­tal wa­ter to be traded fol­low­ing weeks of cam­paign­ing from farm­ers and politi­cians for wa­ter to help see them through the drought.

En­vi­ron­men­tal­ists have re­peat­edly voiced their op­po­si­tion to the plan to di­vert en­vi­ron­men­tal wa­ter to ir­ri­ga­tion.

Last week the Com­mon­wealth En­vi­ron­men­tal Wa­ter Holder, Jody Swirepik, an­nounced that 20 Gl of en­vi­ron­men­tal wa­ter would be sold in the Goul­burn re­gion with the NSW Govern­ment also an­nounc­ing plans to trade 15 Gl of wa­ter to ir­ri­ga­tors.

The 20 Gl will be avail­able to Goul­burn Valley ir­ri­ga­tors, with Fed­eral Mem­ber for Mur­ray Damian Drum call­ing it ‘‘a start’’.

‘‘We were gen­uinely try­ing to put gen­tle pres­sure on to re­lease more than 20 Gl . . . (but) now we’ve got 20 we’ve got to make sure we get that to the fod­der pro­duc­ers po­ten­tially in the Goul­burn Valley, but fod­der pro­duc­ers full stop,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s up to us to en­sure we get the wa­ter into the right ar­eas, into the right in­dus­tries.’’

The is­sue has sparked fur­ther de­bate, with newly ap­pointed drought en­voy and former Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Barn­aby Joyce fac­ing off with en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists fol­low­ing his calls to di­vert more wa­ter to drought-stricken farm­ers.

Mr Joyce made the com­ments on ABC ra­dio last week, with Aus­tralian Con­ser­va­tion Foun­da­tion’s Paul Sin­clair hitting back.

‘‘Mr Joyce’s knee­jerk and illinformed re­ac­tion risks the health of flood plains, wet­lands and wildlife, not to men­tion the com­mu­ni­ties down­stream that rely on a liv­ing river for their liveli­hoods,’’ Dr Sin­clair said.

He said wa­ter clawed back from ir­ri­ga­tors cost the govern­ment bil­lions, and needed to be used to make sure ev­ery­one could ben­e­fit from a healthy river.

As drought con­di­tions up north worsen, and with more dry weather pre­dicted, Speak Up cam­paign chair Shel­ley Scoullar said the fight to get more wa­ter for farm­ers con­tin­ued.

‘‘We will con­tinue to ad­vo­cate strongly for gov­ern­ments to recog­nise that we have drought so­lu­tions star­ing us in the face, but they are be­ing ig­nored for po­lit­i­cal rea­sons,’’ she said.

‘‘There is quite a lot of wa­ter in the dams which could be used to fin­ish win­ter crops and grow fod­der for other drought­stricken ar­eas.

‘‘It is ex­tremely un­for­tu­nate that as soon as any men­tion is made of us­ing this wa­ter to ben­e­fit peo­ple and com­mu­ni­ties, pol­i­tics and ide­olo­gies come into play.’’ ■ Fur­ther in­for­ma­tion re­gard­ing the wa­ter ten­der process is avail­able at: en­vi­ron­ment.gov.au/ wa­ter/cewo/trade

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.