G-MW is trying to speed up reconfiguration agreements promised by NVIRP, but some irrigators are saying it's not fast enough.By Cathy Walker
VFF water council chairman Richard Anderson spends his time lobbying on behalf of irrigators, but when it comes to so-called irrigation upgrade ‘‘legacy’’ cases, he knows more than most.
‘‘I’m one of them,’’ Mr Anderson said last week.
The terminology has become part of the water lexicon. It’s shorthand for irrigation projects left unfinished by the former Northern Victoria Irrigation Renewal Project (NVIRP) that haven’t been picked up by the $2
‘‘They (G-MW) are now making a genuine attempt to clean up the backlog of legacy ones,’’ Mr Anderson said.
Mr Anderson, a cattle and crop farmer, also chairs the Rochester-Campaspe Water Services Committee and said another of his committee members was ‘‘in the same boat’’.
‘‘NVIRP started talking to me three years ago and nothing’s happened,’’ he said.
‘‘You can’t go to the footy, you can’t go anywhere without people wanting to talk to you about it.’’
Central Goulburn WSC chairman Peter Hacon said the ‘‘legacy’’ affect had left some irrigators in ‘‘nowhere land’’ that was leading to a lack of confidence in the sector.
‘‘I don’t think you can put too much blame on G-MW at this stage,’’ Mr Hacon, who farms Merinos at Tongala, said.
‘‘NVIRP spent money and made the (water) savings .
He said a great deal of money had been wasted on individual jobs.
‘‘Some places were reconfigured early (in the process) — but now backbones are being extended past them, it’s been a real waste of money.’’
He said while he wouldn’t say the connections process was going entirely smoothly, ‘‘at least it’s pushing in the right direction’’.
Numurkah dairy farmer Jason Andrew, who chairs the Murray Valley WSC, said from his group’s perspective the Connections Project was proceeding slowly.
‘‘We’re confident the process is in place,’’ Mr Andrew said.
‘‘In terms of progress there’s a bit of ‘watch this space’.’’
He said they were surprised to learn at a recent G-MW information session of the extent of the ‘‘legacy’’ effect.
‘‘One of the things I would like to highlight was the large number (of cases),’’ Mr Andrew said.
‘‘Because of privacy reasons we don’t get to see the actual details. But if you’re going to go forward you have to clean up the stuff left behind.
‘‘They have put a crew of people on and reallocated staff and resources to do it.’’
Mr Andrews and his peers, he said, had noticed a ‘‘dramatic’’ culture change at G-MW.
‘‘From an irrigator’s point of view they listen to us a lot more than they used to.’’
Mr Andrews is enthusiastic about the Connections Project, which would be ‘‘massive for the community’’.
‘‘I’m third generation (on the farm) and my grandfather was here when irrigation first went through, but this is huge.’’
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