Farmers left disappointed over zero water allocation

By Country News

Despite calls for an allocation in the Murray Valley irrigation district, farmers were left disappointed at the September 3 announcement.

The NSW Department of Industry kept the allocation at zero per cent, saying the announcement reflected the ongoing dry conditions across much of the state.

‘‘NSW water storages have continued to fall since last summer with 100 per cent of the state now in drought,’’ the department’s executive director of water Rachel Connell said.

‘‘As a result there is no increase in general security allocations in the NSW Murray or Murrumbidgee regulated river systems, although there was an increase in the conveyance licence category of 30Gl.’’

This decision has been met with criticism from many groups.

NSW Farmers president James Jackson said the NSW Government must explain to drought-affected irrigators why their general security entitlements had been maintained at zero when the Dartmouth Dam was at 90 per cent and irrigators in other states were seeing higher entitlements maintained.

‘‘Farmers in NSW, dealing with the impact of one of the worst droughts on record, are scratching their heads today (September 4) wondering what on earth is going on,’’ Mr Jackson said.

Speak Up chair Shelley Scoullar was critical of the under-use of infrastructure projects.

‘‘There’s the equivalent of nearly 10 Sydney Harbours stored in just two dams — Dartmouth and Hume — with more to come as the record snowfalls melt,’’ she said. ‘‘Yet the bureaucrats tell us they cannot take the NSW Murray general security allocation off zero.’’

Also campaigning for the allocation to be lifted are the Southern Riverina Irrigators, Ricegrowers’ Association of Australia, Murray Valley Private Diverters and Murray Irrigation.