Still not enough: VFF

By Alana Christensen

Seasonal allocations have got a long way to go until farmers can make genuine decisions, according to VFF Water Council chair Richard Anderson.

Allocations for northern Victoria were revised last Monday, with all systems receiving an increase.

The new seasonal determination sees the Murray system move from two per cent to six per cent of high-reliability water shares.

The Goulburn and Loddon systems increased from two per cent to eight per cent HRWS and the Campaspe system moved from 26 per cent to 31 per cent HRWS. The Bullarook system increased from 19 per cent to 100 per cent HRWS and 100 per cent of low-reliability water shares.

Seasonal determinations in the Broken system remain on zero per cent HRWS.

Mr Anderson said there was still a long way to go.

‘‘We need a lot more rain in the catchment, that’s for sure,’’ he said.

‘‘There’s no point starting a summer crop if you know damn well you don’t have enough water to finish it.’’

The region may continue to be under ‘‘considerable stress’’ with recent rains not enough to make a real difference to catchment levels, according to State Member for Shepparton Suzanna Sheed.

‘‘If predictions remain as they are and turn out to be true, then we won’t see a lot of water going into catchments and so there will have to be very careful management; possibly lower allocations,’’ she said.

‘‘The NSW side of the Murray is on zero and will probably stay on zero. We manage our water to take into account bad years in a different way to NSW.

‘‘It will be pretty tough unless we get a break in the season.’’

Northern Victoria resource manager Andrew Shields said recent rain in the upper catchment had improved the volume of water available.

‘‘The catchments are responding well to rain and this has contributed to the additional water available to allocate, particularly in the Bullarook system,’’ Mr Shields said.

‘‘Further rain is required in the other catchments to maintain flows into storages and help increase seasonal determinations.’’

Mr Shields said an update of carryover volumes also contributed to the improvements.

‘‘The reconciliation of the Victorian Water Register found the actual carryover volume was slightly lower than estimated in the Murray system and this contributed to the improvement in the system,’’ he said.

‘‘There is currently insufficient water to operate the Broken system as usual for the entire 2019-20 season.

‘‘Carried-over allocation will be available early in the season. Resource improvements will increase the period of supply.’’

Mr Shields advised water users to consider available weather and climate information in conjunction with the seasonal determination outlooks when planning their water needs in 2019-20.

The new irrigation season starts on August 15.