Angry irrigators have voices heard in Shepparton

By Alana Christensen

Angry irrigators have had their voices heard at a meeting in Shepparton yesterday, calling for a more sensible and equitable irrigation and water delivery system.

It was standing room only at the two-hour meeting as 65 individuals had their say on the Victorian Government review into delivery shares.

The robust meeting ignited the passions of many in the audience who called for more equitable fees to better share the cost of running the system, ensuring that farmers received a ‘fair go’ and weren’t priced out of the agriculture industry.

Delivery shares — an entitlement paid by landowners to cover the costs of delivering water in irrigation districts, defined by a rate of megalitres per day — have been a long-running issue.

Despite selling off their water, a number of farmers have still retained their delivery shares due to high termination fees and are still charged ongoing fees to keep their shares active.

The review will consider a number of changes to the system including reduced water availability for irrigation, fluctuation in water prices and changes in demand for water. Other impacts, including climate change, will also be considered.

Orchardist Peter Hall said a framework for delivery shares needed to reflect the changing landscape of the Goulburn-Murray Irrigation District.

‘‘We’re going to suffer if we at least don’t get them looked at,’’ he said.

The event, hosted by Toni Radcliffe from the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning’s Rural Water Policy division, also saw representatives from a number of government departments and Goulburn-Murray Water in attendance.