One size does not fit all, says Southern Riverina Irrigators

By Jamie Salter

A proposed ‘Drought of Record’ legislation in NSW seeks to update water modelling to take into account more recent droughts.

The motion from NSW Independent MP Justin Field was primarily made to protect town water supplies in northern communities.

Southern Riverina Irrigators deputy chair Darcy Hare said enforcing the same set of rules in northern and southern parts of the state would not take into account varying water requirements.

He said the north had inadequate storage compared to the Murray and Murrumbidgee valleys, where providing water for critical human needs was not an issue.

“In effect, it would further threaten general security irrigators who are already under enormous pressure from reduced allocations,” Mr Hare said.

“With our massive dam storages, it makes no sense to enter every year assuming we are going to have zero rainfall, and as such relive the 2006 disaster.

“The motion is about securing water for towns like Tamworth in the Peel Valley, where authorities got it wrong and towns did run the risk of running out of water during the recent drought.

“They have serious issues there which must be addressed but this does not permeate down to the Murray and Murrumbidgee regions, where critical human needs are consistently met.”

Mr Hare said a blanket approach was not the way to manage a large system, where the needs of one area differ to those 1000 kilometres away.

He said SRI supported other industry groups that highlighted the flaws in the ‘Drought of Record’ proposal, however, he said it should not be used as a political weapon to attack independents and minor parties, while supporting the National Party.

“Instead of playing politics, our farm advocacy groups should be working with irrigators and politicians to enforce the change we need,” he said.

“The indisputable fact is simple: whether at state or federal level we need stronger representation from the National Party to change the basin plan and protect our irrigators and the communities which depend on them.”