Opinion

Mokoan reform has hurt water entitlements

By Geoff Adams

Your readers, and indeed many Broken River diverters, may not be aware of the injustice that has been perpetrated on them.

In a letter from (Victorian Water Minister Lisa Neville's) office we have been told that we can expect zero allocation “10 years out of 100 under historic conditions and as often as 44/100 under climate change”.

This is a devastating scenario considering we used to enjoy less than 2/100 of low allocations, and never zero.

This means irrigated agriculture in the Broken Valley is virtually non-viable and the fruit and grain crops and the dairies that produce so much food for the area and employ so many will eventually close.

All this despite government promises there would be no change to entitlements when Lake Mokoan was decommissioned and also despite the Essential Service Act expressly forbidding any alteration to irrigation supply without consultation and compensation.

Furthermore, despite a request by diverters to review the issue the Minister has refused, saying it would “require significant resources” and we must await the outcome of the Sustainable Water Strategy review in 2022!

Goulburn-Murray Water is as much to blame as the government.

They have been continually approached by diverters to remedy the situation and, despite several years of meetings, nothing has been achieved of any significance.

They have refused to call meetings of diverters to explain the possible future outcome of the valley, probably fearing their wrath.

It has proven too hard for them and they have neglected their responsibilities to their members and stakeholders.

Diverters are being kept in the dark and soon will have no water for irrigation, no production and no livelihood.

There are only two possible solutions to this dreadful scenario; either buy back at least half of the remaining irrigation water out of the Broken Valley, with compensation for assets rendered worthless, or re-instate a storage of at least 100Gl in the valley.

All other solutions that have been offered have little or no effect on our reliability of supply.

Let me add that the injustice of all this could very well leave the government and G-MW open to serious litigation.

Michael Reid, Wangaratta