Crops left high and dry

The Western Star - - Rural Weekly -

MORE than 250 ir­ri­ga­tors from the Dar­ling Downs met at the Swan Creek Hall, east of War­wick, to dis­cuss new ir­ri­ga­tion re­stric­tions.

The re­stric­tions were im­posed on July 1 and limit un-metered ground wa­ter ir­ri­ga­tors to pump­ing be­tween 5pm and 5am on Tues­days and Thurs­days.

A mo­tion to im­me­di­ately re­voke the re­stric­tions re­ceived a unan­i­mous vote from the crowd, and more than 200 of those in at­ten­dance signed a pe­ti­tion for Mem­ber for South­ern Downs James Lis­ter to present in Par­lia­ment.

Mr Lis­ter said he had writ­ten to the Min­is­ter for Nat­u­ral Re­sources, Mines and En­ergy ex­press­ing his con­cern about the lack of com­mu­nity con­sul­ta­tion and no­tice.

The Min­is­ter re­sponded, writ­ing that the depart­ment met with a num­ber of com­mu­ni­ties and apologised


We had to for­ward con­tracts to sup­ply our cus­tomers for 12 months.

— Haydn Lamb

for not en­gag­ing with Glen­gal­lan and ad­ja­cent south­ern val­leys.

Kil­lar­ney farmer Haydn Lamb said he re­ceived no­tice Wick­ham Farms would have to re­strict ir­ri­ga­tion just two days be­fore he was ex­pected to im­ple­ment changes. The re­stric­tion would see his young onion crop frozen from overnight wa­ter­ing or dead from the dry, but a fail­ure to com­ply would have in­curred a fine of more than $60,000.

“We had the rug pulled out from un­der us,” he told the crowd.

The farmer said the abrupt change could have a long-last­ing, detri­men­tal im­pact on the South­ern Downs econ­omy.

“We had com­mit­ted to for­ward con­tracts to sup­ply our cus­tomers for 12 months,” he said.

“We are re­ly­ing on that crop to get through our process room so our staff have jobs come Christ­mas time.

“If we lose our con­tract with our good cus­tomers there’s 40 jobs gone and di­rectly, through our farm­ing busi­ness, that’s 85 jobs gone.

“At the mo­ment, in a dis­trict like this, we need ev­ery bit of em­ploy­ment we can pos­si­bly get.”

If farm­ers choose to in­stall a me­ter on their bore, pump­ing is still sub­ject to the nom­i­nal per­cent­age of their wa­ter en­ti­tle­ment per year, rang­ing from 50 per cent to 80 per cent.

With me­ter­ing be­com­ing manda­tory by 2025, a Depart­ment of Nat­u­ral Re­sources, Mines and En­ergy spokesman said the depart­ment was work­ing to “im­ple­ment a me­ter­ing pro­gram” which would re­quire all ir­ri­ga­tors to in­stall me­ters “up to man­u­fac­tur­ers’ re­quire­ments”.

DNRME said fines of up to $62,275 could be en­forced for ir­ri­ga­tors who breach the re­stric­tions. If ir­ri­ga­tors or farm­ers have ques­tions, con­tact the DNRME Toowoomba of­fice on

(07) 4529 1394 or the War­wick of­fice on

(07) 4661 0200.


RE­STRIC­TIONS: Haydn Lamb’s young onion crop would be frozen if Wick­ham Farms ad­hered to new un-metered ir­ri­ga­tion re­stric­tions, lim­it­ing grow­ers to wa­ter two nights a week.

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