Water allocation increase sought

By Robert Muir

Federation Council will formally request a general water security allocation increase be made available in the 2020/2021 water year to general water entitlement water licence holders in the Murray Surface Water district.

A request by Cr Bronwyn Thomas was made in a Notice of Motion for council’s latest monthly meeting on May 19. After submitting her request, NSW State Water Authorities decided, on May 15, a 3% allocation for general security water entitlement holders.

Cr Thomas amended her motion, which was fully backed by fellow councillors, that council formally acknowledge the 3% allocation and provide an explanation for, and welcome further announcements as the growing season progresses for both winter and summer crops within the NSW Murray System.  

She also supports West Corurgan Irrigation application to increase access to additional stock and domestic water. 

Cr Thomas described the 3% allocation news as “really exciting”. “But let’s not lose sight of past experience and gauge the future of irrigation delivery security and entitlements,” Cr Thomas said.

“Due to the crippling drought, that has affected much of Eastern Australia over the past three years, and complications including the Water Sharing arrangements between NSW, VIC and SA, allocations for NSW Farmers on the Murray system, have been zero per cent for the last two years.

“The promising start to this year’s growing season, and inflows into Hume Dam, means that the NSW Government should increase allocations levels to a reasonable level for general security water holders in the Murray Surface Water district.”

The effects of COVID-19 bringing supermarkets to their extremes with the panic buying of many household staples, including bread, flour pasta and rice were mentioned by Cr Thomas. 

“Currently, statistically, Australia only has enough rice reserves till September,” she said.

“This has highlighted the need to produce clean green sustainable food products within our own LGA States and borders here in Australia.” 

There was an example of only one rice crop harvested within the Federation Council area, at Savernake, according to Cr Thomas, with the nearest production occurring in Berrigan and Murrumbidgee LGAs with all deliveries to the Deniliquin receival centre. 

“West Corurgan Stock and Domestic increase is self-explanatory as the last two and half years’ seasonal conditions have highlighted the urgent need to have this allocation increased,” she said.

“A significant shortfall of stock and domestic was evident throughout this time period.

“It gets back to providing ‘basic water rights’ which forms part of the NSW Legislative Water Management Act of 2000.”