Southern Riverina news - - RURAL OUTLOOK -

Dear Edi­tor,

I re­side in Tocumwal NSW. I have lived in the district since 1983.

In that pe­riod I have seen the Mur­ray so low you could al­most walk across it and at other times so high that with­out the levee bank Tocumwal and Finley would have been com­pletely flooded.

When I came to the area farm­ing was thriv­ing, ir­ri­gated crop­ping rice ,wheat, bar­ley, corn, and ir­ri­gated sum­mer pas­ture to fat­ten lambs, cat­tle and a large dairy in­dus­try pro­vid­ing fresh milk to the ci­ties.

Finley be­ing the main com­mer­cial cen­tre was ac­tive with large pri­mary and sec­ondary schools, three clubs and three ho­tels.

Tocumwal was a small quiet town with ex­cel­lent golf and bowl­ing clubs at­tract­ing bus loads of tourists to our great fa­cil­i­ties and cli­mate.

Since then I have seen Tocumwal con­tinue to grow with mainly re­tirees at­tracted to the same things: great sport­ing fa­cil­i­ties and cli­mate.

I have seen Finley’s growth stag­nate, shops and ho­tels close, farms amal­ga­mate into larger hold­ings, big­ger machin­ery, and far more ef­fi­cient ir­ri­ga­tion sys­tems.

De­spite these farm­ing im­prove­ments and the highly ef­fi­cient use of wa­ter, am­ple wa­ter in the stor­age dams, in one of the worst droughts for many years there is no ir­ri­ga­tion wa­ter al­lo­ca­tion in NSW.

Liv­ing only a few hun­dred me­tres from the Mur­ray River this year dur­ing one of the dri­est win­ters and springs on record I have seen a long and con­stant high flow of wa­ter flow­ing down the river. Where is the wa­ter go­ing? How much wa­ter is go­ing to food pro­duc­tion?

How much wa­ter is go­ing to Na­tional Parks?

How much wa­ter is go­ing to shal­low lakes in South Aus­tralia? How much wa­ter is flow­ing out to sea? Who de­ter­mines what wa­ter goes where?

Why is it we ap­pear to have plenty of wa­ter flow­ing down the river from the dams that were built to drought-proof food pro­duc­tion and next to none is avail­able to NSW farm­ers in a drought year?

Maybe we can re­turn to the good old days of the loaves and the fishes with out the loaves.

Yours, Don Young, Tocumwal.

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