Green flows anger farmers
Farmers in NSW’s Lachlan Valley are angry at water sharing rules they say take millions of dollars out of irrigation-dependent communities.
Irrigators say too much emphasis has been placed on environmental flows.
Under the NSW Government’s Lachlan River Water Sharing Plan, about 25 per cent of the water has been allocated for agricultural production, leaving the other 75 per cent reserved for the environment.
Water licensees in the Lachlan Valley Water say the plan costs Lachlan Valley communities about $35 million a year.
With the plan up for review, group leader Tom Green wants significant changes.
‘Everything's a confidence game, so these rules, really, make it very hard to use water,” Mr Green told the ABC.
“By doing that you really rip the confidence out, people don't have the confidence to go out and put a crop in and invest in pumps and infrastructure to use the water.
“So we're in this situation where the water's now there to use but people haven't got the confidence to go and hook right into it again.”
Mr Green said it was hard to bring everyone together to discuss the overhaul of the plan.
“It's been hard to get meetings, and we're small parts of big electorates so where we cut in across those four or five electorates that make up the Lachlan, it's a minor issue for them, and unfortunately we just don't seem to be getting that traction,” Mr Green said.
“We really need our state members to stand up and say; ‘Yes we do want a sustainable community throughout the Lachlan Valley’.
Mr Green said staffing cuts at state departments could have an impact too.
“I guess we've been frustrated by a restructure in DPI Water, they haven't been able to meet any of the deadlines they've set. They seem under-resourced, so we're fearing that this uncertainty is going to progress because we're not seeing action.”
The NSW Government says the new Lachlan Valley water resource plan should be completed in 2018-19, and that the DPI is managing short-term delays to ensure key project milestones were met.