May­ors share plan con­cerns

Shepparton News - Country News - - WATER -

Four may­ors from south­ern NSW have joined forces in a plea for au­thor­i­ties to pro­tect their com­mu­ni­ties.

It comes amid mount­ing con­cern about the loss of jobs and re­gional pros­per­ity, brought about by what the may­ors say is gov­ern­ment in­abil­ity to ef­fec­tively man­age water re­sources.

The may­ors of Ed­ward River (Norm Bren­nan), Mur­ray River (Chris Bilkey), Ber­ri­gan Shire (Matt Han­nan) and Mur­rumbidgee Shire (Ruth McRae) coun­cils are par­tic­u­larly con­cerned about the Mur­rayDar­ling Basin Au­thor­ity’s ap­proach to the present cri­sis, height­ened by com­ments from its chief ex­ec­u­tive Phillip Glyde.

In an opin­ion piece (Coun­try News, Novem­ber 20), un­der the head­ing ‘Basin plan eases drought pain’, Mr Glyde spoke about mak­ing tough de­ci­sions in what he termed a ‘‘chal­leng­ing sea­son’’.

The four may­ors be­lieve Mr Glyde’s com­ments high­light the MDBA’s fail­ure to ap­pre­ci­ate the frus­tra­tions be­ing felt in their com­mu­ni­ties and the lack of flex­i­bil­ity in water man­age­ment.

‘‘The basin plan is not eas­ing drought pain, in fact there is no ques­tion it is mak­ing the pain worse,’’ Cr Bren­nan said.

‘‘The Snowy Scheme, along with Hume and Dart­mouth dams, were built to drought­proof our re­gions, but all we see now is water poured down the sys­tem to South Aus­tralia while our food and fi­bre pro­duc­ers sit idle on a zero water al­lo­ca­tion.

‘‘When the basin plan was be­ing de­vel­oped we were promised it would be adap­tive and flex­i­ble — quite clearly, when flex­i­bil­ity is needed it is non-ex­is­tent.’’

Cr Bilkey said he did not be­lieve Mr Glyde was cog­nisant of the enor­mous im­pact the Mur­ray-Dar­ling Basin Plan was hav­ing on their com­mu­ni­ties.

‘‘For ex­am­ple the small town of Wakool, in our coun­cil area, has been dev­as­tated by the basin plan,’’ he said.

‘‘Last week the Wakool Foot­ball Net­ball Club had to make the very tough de­ci­sion to close down be­cause it can­not get enough play­ers.

‘‘I’m not sure Mr Glyde and oth­ers who keep telling us we are getting a bal­anced plan are aware of the im­pact some­thing like this has on a small com­mu­nity.’’

Cr McRae said the may­ors all knew in­flows into the sys­tem were low, but the cur­rent man­age­ment of water re­sources must come un­der se­ri­ous scru­tiny.

‘‘We have to im­prove it to pro­tect our com­mu­ni­ties, and it ap­pears Mr Glyde needs to de­velop a greater ap­pre­ci­a­tion for this in­dis­putable fact,’’ she said.

In Ber­ri­gan Shire, Cr Han­nan said his com­mu­nity has en­dured too much pain from the basin plan and it must be rec­ti­fied.

He said the shire’s towns of Ber­ri­gan and Fin­ley, which relied so heav­ily on farm­ing pros­per­ity, were buck­ling un­der the strain.

‘‘We have ex­pe­ri­enced enough pain and can’t take any more,’’ Cr Han­nan said.

‘‘Fin­ley and Ber­ri­gan — both the towns and re­gions — have been se­verely af­fected by water is­sues with a loss of jobs, skills and wealth.

‘‘We are al­most be­yond try­ing to get the MDBA and gov­ern­ments to un­der­stand our plight and take pos­i­tive ac­tion.’’

Lat­est farm tool . . . Re­tired Nu­murkah farm­ers John Black­man (left) and Ian Clark dis­cuss the use of drones with G-MW draugh­t­ing of­fi­cer and ac­cred­ited drone pilot Graeme Eadie.

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