Carryover limits water allocations
The latest allocation announcements in the Murray and Murrumbidgee Valleys highlight the need for more clarity regarding carryover provisions, according to irrigation stakeholders.
Last week’s announcement included an 11 per cent general security increase in the NSW Murray to 53 per cent, while Murrumbidgee received no increase and remains on 61 per cent.
Considering both valleys are major food and fibre production districts for the state, concerns have been raised at why allocations remain at these levels when we have major dams in each region spilling or near capacity.
The manner in which the NSW Department of Primary Industries – Water present their announcement is under criticism from both valleys, with the department claiming in both valleys the allocation is 80 per cent due to ‘average’ carryover, which it says is 27 per cent in the Murray and 19 per cent in Murrumbidgee.
Chair of the Murray Valley’s Deniboota Landholders Association, Alastair Starritt, echoed the views of most landholders when he said he was frustrated that carryover is reported in this way as anyone could be carrying over water, including government, environmental water, sup- erannuation companies and other speculators.
‘‘Making announcements like this is deceiving the general public,’’ Mr Starritt said.
‘‘Most food producers in the Murray Valley do not have access to 80 per cent of their entitlements.
‘‘We need to assess how much of that general security is actually owned by farmers and will go towards growing food and fibre, which creates jobs and wealth for our communities and nation.’’
Murrumbidgee Valley Food and Fibre Association president Debbie Buller agreed with Mr Starritt’s comments.
‘‘Currently the Murrumbidgee has full dams and water logged countryside, yet our allocation did not increase because of rules surrounding carryover,’’ she said.
‘‘Most of our farmers are still on 61 per cent, not 80 per cent, despite what DPI Water tries to tell everyone. We need allocations that provide a higher level of security for our communities.
‘‘What we are seeing at the moment is that no one can use their water either in allocation or carryover as everything is so wet.
‘‘This means that new allocations cannot grow as dam space is practically at capacity in both Valleys.’’