Water

Katandra West farmer slams MDBA

By Sophie Baldwin

Laurie and Gayle Clark have always gone quietly about the business of dairy farming on their Katandra West property.

But it was the sight of a cracked and dry irrigation channel along with the loss of about three quarters of their potential spring harvest due to lack of irrigation water, that prompted Mr Clark to make a post on Facebook.

The post has since been viewed more than 7000 times.

The Clarks are fed up with farmers and rural communities being acceptable and expendable collateral damage by policy makers, and what they say is the debacle of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.

“The government is committing environmental vandalism in the Murray-Darling Basin while inflicting financial genocide on regional Victoria and NSW,” Mr Clark said.

The couple said farmers worked with the natural environment daily and were the original environmentalists.

“How can city-based, office-sitting bureaucrats living in a concrete and steel jungle with a diploma on the wall and little or no practical experience of nature and natural ecosystems claim to know what is best for an environment that is so far removed from their city existence?,” Mr Clark said.

“There seems to be a false assumption from metropolitan so-called environmentalists that land and agriculture are not part of the environment; tell that to the wetland birds, frogs and other assorted wildlife who make the irrigation district their home.”

To be successful, the Clarks use state-of-the-art technology in most areas of their business.

They strive to look after the fertility of their soils for the health of their animals and other native birds and wildlife on their farm.

They are planting trees for shade and shelter, and use solar power to ease the energy requirements of milking their cows and feeding their calves.

“The Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder is showing reckless disregard for the stewardship of the environment they are meant to be protecting,” Mr Clark said.

“Water generates the most benefit when it moves slowly over the land, not flushed down the river at an alarming rate.

“The relentless flooding of the forests and erosion of the riverbanks by the sheer volume of water being pushed through the system is having a huge detrimental effect on flora and fauna — fish kills and dying red gums are all symptoms of this gross mismanagement.”

He is concerned that adding another 450Gl of irrigators' water to the CEWH will only magnify the problems already being created by unnatural river flows.

“The CEWH seems embarrassed by the huge volumes of water they already hold and are desperately trying to flush it away by repeatedly flooding sensitive river forests to the point of degrading these remaining natural environments.

“The CEWH seems hell-bent on expending its carried-over reserves because they fear being asked to release some of it to communities along the river, to grow food and fibre for the country.”

Mr Clark said the Lower Lakes at South Australia had been turned into huge wasteful evaporation ponds, and pumping water out to sea in a drought year made no sense at all.

“The role of government is to protect citizens and provide prosperity to society — this is certainly not happening under our current crop of bureaucrats who are doing a very good job of destroying our regional communities instead.”