Irrigators want review into Broken system

By Rodney Woods

Irrigators relying on water from the Broken system are on the search for solutions to again have access to a reliable water allocation after nearly a decade since the decommissioning of Lake Mokoan.

As part of the decommissioning process, which wrapped up in 2010, the bulk entitlements of the Broken system were amended to no longer include the Hollands and Ryans catchments, which is having an impact on the water being made available to farmers on the Broken system.

Farmers on the Broken are now totally reliant on water from Lake Nillahcootie, a small storage of 40Gl at the top of the system, which means that tributaries downstream of the Broken may be running but, given it is not in the storage, they do not see this reflected in their allocation

Broken Creek farmer Wayne Spinks said his high-reliability water was not really what the name suggested.

“Our high-reliability water is not really high-reliability because we don’t know when we're going to get it,” Mr Spinks said.

“We’ve got water but we don’t want to be opportunistic farmers.

“The failure of the system is effectively stopping people from investing in irrigated agriculture.

“Water is there but the design of the system is stopping access to that water and it's going to the Goulburn and Murray systems and South Australia.

“Where they used to be part of our entitlement but are below our storage post-decommission.

“We're at the point now where we need a review of the whole system and its effectiveness.”

VFF Water Council chair Richard Anderson said the VFF had been working with Goulburn-Murray Water and DELWP to get a review under way.

“We organised a meeting with DELWP and G-MW and the first thing was to get a review of that system to build a bit more reliability for them,” Mr Anderson said.

“It was a good meeting. A few things were kicked around the table so we will see what we come up with.

“We'd like to see something done in the next 12 months in time for the next irrigation season.”

Victorian Shadow Water Minister Steph Ryan has backed irrigators’ calls for a review of water entitlements on the Broken system

“Broken River irrigators have suffered poor reliability and low allocations since Labor decommissioned Lake Mokoan,” Ms Ryan said.

“The reconfiguration of the Broken irrigation system following the decommissioning has not seen the Victorian Government honour its commitments to maintain security of supply to the irrigators of the Broken.”