Changes to Broken system welcomed

By Rodney Woods

The decision to qualify stock and domestic water on the Broken system and initiate a review into its future management has been welcomed by the farmers who rely on the water and by the VFF.

Benalla irrigator Maureen Cottam said her, and other irrigators, had been calling for a review well before Lake Mokoan was decommissioned and congratulated Victorian Water Minister Lisa Neville for listening to their concerns.

“Congratulations to her,” Ms Cottam said.

“She responded to that crisis (a lack of water to feed stock) and listened to us that we need a review.”

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 40 Gl 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.

VFF Water Council chair Richard Anderson said “farmers on the Broken are doing it really tough on a zero allocation, this announcement will now allow them to water their stock”.

“Ensuring irrigation allocation announcements are made as early as possible is critical to farmers optimising their spring growth,” Mr Anderson said.

“We are pleased the water minister has listened to the VFF and Broken irrigators; now we all need to work together to explore options on how to improve the Broken system into the future.”

Victorian Shadow Water Minister Steph Ryan said the announcement was "desperately needed, but it’s long overdue".

The VFF will work with government and local irrigators to ensure a robust review framework is established with significant community consultation.