Letters to the Editor

By Country News

Following the rules comes at a high cost

It is easy for the South Australian-based Murray-Darling Basin Authority chairman Neil Andrew to talk about the need to follow rules (Country News, September 25), especially as all these rules support his fellow crow eaters, but at what cost?

While his state compatriots sit comfortably with their present 100 per cent allocation, in NSW and Queensland we are seeing devastation across farming communities, with many irrigators having a zero allocation.

As a consequence, they cannot grow fodder for stock in non-irrigation areas.

Remember, the water being used in SA is coming from the same source, that being Hume and Dartmouth dams.

I accept that our past politicians have made massive errors of judgment, which have led to the current ridiculous situation, but does that justify the refusal of today’s decision-makers to find solutions?

Mr Andrew, like so many others, hides behind rules and the typical ‘can’t do’ attitude that permeates through our political system and the bureaucracy.

If they had a more ‘can do’ attitude perhaps we would see:

■South Australia turning on its desalination plant, which was built with significant federal funding. SA would then not be so reliant on flows from Hume and Dartmouth.

■Infrastructure works at the end of system that would reduce huge evaporation losses and perhaps stop large volumes of fresh water being poured out to sea.

■Stop continuing to allow the expansion of water front housing developments in SA.

■Maybe even an acceptance that we have made errors in the Murray-Darling Basin Plan implementation, especially sacrificing production in the NSW Murray, which is one of the best gravity-fed irrigation systems in the world, for political gain in South Australia. Mr Andrew also should acknowledge these errors need to be fixed.

But why should we expect ‘can do’ thinking from Mr Andrew and his MDBA mates?

After all, unlike the rest of us, they don’t need to find solutions to try and save their livelihoods. It’s easier if they follow the rules.

—Neil Eagle

Barham, NSW

Common sense to give water back to irrigators

In response to John Brian’s letter (Country News, September 25).

Sorry John, but you’re never going to win, even though I — and a lot of other people — fully agree with you.

For years, some, if not most, environmental flows have been provided by irrigators’ water travelling down the rivers.

Giving the equivalent amount of this water back to the irrigators for re-allocation, would be a common sense solution.

But no, they choose to load up all their water shares (high and low) with the maximum carryover allowable and then sell the excess on the temporary market for maximum dollar.

This money is then probably used to buy more permanent water shares, and so the problem keeps growing.

—John Gledhill


Carryover is a vital tool

Does the irrigation industry support the call to ‘do away’ with carryover facilities? (Country News, ‘Stop carryover water’, September 25.)

I would think not.

Carryover is an important management tool for most irrigation industries and the environment.

The contention that our water storages are full of environmental water is clearly incorrect; the vast majority of carryover water remains in the hands of irrigators.

Carryover conditions are exactly the same for both irrigators and the holders of environmental water.

Both store, use, and lose water under the same rules, however, demands for use differ in that the environment is more likely to use carryover entitlements early in the season when compared to irrigators.

This early use can allow for the increased storage being available for all entitlement holders.

Carryover and the water market are important management tools for all irrigation industries, allowing for more flexibility in decision making for all participants.

State and federal politicians have for decades seen the value of putting decision making in the hands of irrigators, supported water markets and, more recently, come to the defence of environmental water under current drought conditions.

Advocates for turning the water reform clock back decades should be very careful what they wish for.

—John Pettigrew

Goulburn Valley Environment Group