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No more water for SA

Posted by on 18/07/2018

Durham Ox mixed farmerChris Harrisonsaid, earlier this year, the planned upgrade appeared to have stalled on his property.
Nanjing Night Net

Mr Harrison said he had been left with a “hybrid” system, with both the older style Dethridge wheel alongside modern, automated technology.

“You will have Dethridge wheels and drop bars alongside electronic metres and you have to employ a lot of labor to work them (Dethridge wheels) manually,” he said.

But thespring rain brought flooding, particularly in the Loddon Valley, which caused further challenges.Boort cropper Tyler Nelson said it was difficult to come to terms with crop losses, and potential damage from water logging and flooding, after years of dry springs.

“The decisions that have to be made and the facts that have to be faced are all the harder after a couple of tough production years,” Mr Nelson said.

​Irrigation concerns were not just confined to the Loddon.

In November, the Goulburn Murray Irrigation District (GMID) Water Leadership forum publicly released research, showing the Murray Darling Basin Plan had cost the region $550million in lost production, every year, since 2012.

The RM Consulting Group (RMCG) study found irrigators were paying $20 million a year more, for temporary water.The study authors found thedairy industry had seen its value cut by $200m at the farm gate and $360m in processed products.

RMCG’s Rob Rendell said irrigators were now in a demand driven system, which had not been recognised in any socio-economic analysis.He said about half the 1300GL of entitlements recovered were high reliability water shares.

“Victoria has contributed the bulk of those high reliability water shares, dare I say the Griffith area has contributed bugger all,” Mr Rendell said.

A spokswoman for the MDBA said it was aware of the research and welcomed contributions to the ongoing debate over the impacts of the plan on communities, industries and the environment.

Further downthe Murray river, Dried Fruit Australia chairman Mark King said he had been involved in the water debate since the inception of the Living Murray program, in 2002.

“The models have proven there has been an effect on jobs – the bureaucrats who came up with those models should hang their heads in shame, because Blind Freddy could have told you,if you take water out of production, of course it’s going to cost jobs.”

But farmers all along the river – whether they produced rice, ran dairy cattle, sheep or grew grain or fruit – were all agreed on one thing;the 450GL of environmental water, sought by South Australia, could not be returned.

South Australian Water Minister, Ian Hunter, made a splash, with an expletive-laden outburst to his state and federal counterparts, in which he told them the state still wanted the extra upwater.ButMr King spoke for all irrigators, along the Victorian and New South Wales river systems, in saying no more water could be delivered to South Australia.

“The models show the water they have taken isn’t delivering what they thought it would and is having a greater impact on communities than predicted, so why would you be going out to secure more ?,” he said.

The MDBA spokeswoman said the water market gave irrigators greater flexibility, in their business decisions.“Those who choose to buy or sell in the water market are better off compared with no trading opportunities,” the spokeswoman said. “Water trading is a way of extracting the maximum economic benefit from the available water resources.”

Independent analysis hadconcluded that the effect of Commonwealth water recovery was to increase the price of water allocations by between $10 and $30/ML.

“However, the same study concluded that the main driver of changes in allocation prices was year to year variation in water availability. This has a much greater effect on prices than Commonwealth water recovery and other factors such as the growing demand for water from expanding irrigation sectors like cotton and nut crops,” the spokeswoman said.

Merbein dried fruit grower Tony Martin said the major drought, earlier in the century, was the biggest cause of disruption for irrigators and townspeople in the Sunraysia.

IRRIGATION WOES: An irrigation channel, near Tatura. The RM Consulting Group (RMCG) found irrigators were paying $20 million a year more, for temporary water.

He said improved irrigation technology had a major impact on populations,in industries such as cotton. “They don’t have to house anyone, they have machinery to deal with weeds, they don’t employ as many people as they used to.”

He said as recently as June 30, irrigators were still thinking they would not get any allocations.“Now every dam in Australia is full and everybody is feeling happy with themselves,” he said.

“You can feel for the guys in the Riverina, if they can’t plant a rice crop because there is no water, but that’s what their allocation gives them.

“If there’s water there they can use it;if there isn’t they can’t – that’s farming.”

Tony Martin, Merbein dried fruit growerThis story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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