Katunga water dispute resolved

By Country News

Katunga organic dairy farmers Colin and Heather Stone will be able to grow feed this season, after reaching an interim agreement with construction giant Boral.

The Stones had an 18-year-long agreement with Boral to supply the farm with water, as a result of the effect Boral’s Katunga sand quarry expansion had on the watertable, yet the company stopped supplying water in March.

But following ongoing discussions they have reached a temporary agreement until a more permanent deal can be agreed to.

Under the interim agreement Boral will begin pumping at least 20Ml of water a week until March 2019, with fortnightly or monthly pumping until next September and more intensive pumping after that.

Although discussions are continuing, Mr Stone said it was a positive step forward.

‘‘If we can get some water flowing and maintain some feed for the cattle we do have, that’s good,’’ he said.

‘‘Where there’s water there’s hope.’’

The Stones have lost about $250000 in pasture production as a result of being unable to grow feed and were forced to reduce their stock numbers from 250 to 190.

The Stones have a Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal agreement dating back to 2000, which states the company must supply the Stones with their 690Ml groundwater entitlement.

The original VCAT agreement was put in place as a result of hydrology research that indicated that the quarry would ultimately drain the groundwater below Mr and Mrs Stone’s farm, which is adjacent to the quarry.