‘Don’t turn the tap off’

Warwick Daily News - South West Queensland Rural Weekly - - Column - DAVID THOM­SON Grow­com CEO

AUS­TRALIA’S salad bowl is un­der threat from hasty plan­ning de­ci­sions and his­toric un­der-in­vest­ment in wa­ter as­sets and man­age­ment.

Fair and eq­ui­table ac­cess to wa­ter is crit­i­cal to the suc­cess of the Queens­land horticulture in­dus­try and we do not un­der­es­ti­mate the com­plex­ity of the wa­ter plan­ning process to ad­dress this is­sue.

For that rea­son, we are call­ing on Min­is­ter Lyn­ham to ex­tend the dead­line for com­ments on the draft More­ton wa­ter plan amend­ment to en­sure that ir­ri­ga­tors in the Cen­tral Lock­yer scheme can pro­vide ac­cu­rate data and more de­tailed in­for­ma­tion about the neg­a­tive im­pact the plan could have on their ac­cess to wa­ter and their prop­erty val­ues.

Ir­ri­ga­tors are very con­cerned about how wa­ter can be al­lo­cated based purely on a record of use with­out hav­ing sig­nif­i­cant neg­a­tive im­pacts and com­mu­nity up­heaval. Given the poor qual­ity of me­ter­ing in the scheme some grow­ers on neigh­bour­ing blocks can have vastly dif­fer­ent wa­ter al­lo­ca­tions which could sig­nif­i­cantly re­duce the value of one en­ter­prise com­pared with an­other. Many ir­ri­ga­tors are ques­tion­ing their abil­ity to con­tinue farm­ing based on the pro­posed long-term en­ti­tle­ments pub­lished in the plan. They also face sig­nif­i­cant wa­ter price in­creases as re­sult of the re­cently an­nounced re­view to be con­ducted by the Queens­land Com­pe­ti­tion Au­thor­ity.

Wa­ter sup­ply fa­cil­i­ties in the Cen­tral Lock­yer have a poor per­for­mance record in sup­ply wa­ter for sur­face and ground­wa­ter take.

Pay­ing high prices for poor wa­ter sup­ply li­a­bil­ity is an added bur­den for grow­ers.

The changes pro­posed in the draft plan will jeop­ar­dise the vi­a­bil­ity of the Lock­yer Val­ley which is ar­guably Aus­tralia’s most im­por­tant veg­etable pro­duc­tion area.

We call on the Min­is­ter to pro­vide time for all grow­ers to doc­u­ment the prob­lems they may face if the draft plan and high wa­ter prices are im­ple­mented.

We are aware that many grow­ers may not feel they have ad­e­quate un­der­stand­ing of the is­sues to pre­pare an ad­e­quate sub­mis­sion.

The Min­is­ter’s De­part­ment must closely mon­i­tor the sit­u­a­tion to ad­dress these con­cerns.

In the longer term, we are seek­ing in­vest­ment in re­li­able wa­ter for the Lock­yer Val­ley as it would be a shame to waste the pro­duc­tive ca­pac­ity of the sev­enth most fer­tile soil in the world.

We con­tend that the Queens­land pub­lic will ex­pect the Palaszczuk Gov­ern­ment to take a rea­son­able and mea­sured ap­proach that does not threaten the long-term vi­a­bil­ity of the Lock­yer Val­ley as a pro­duc­tion area and an im­por­tant provider of lo­cal jobs.

❝ir­ri­ga­tors

Many are ques­tion­ing their abil­ity to con­tinue farm­ing...

— David Thom­son

PHOTO: FILE

WA­TER WOES: Grow­com is call­ing for the gov­ern­ment to ex­tend the dead­line for com­ments on the draft More­ton wa­ter plan.

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