Tuppal Creek flows in jeopardy.ZOE MCMAUGH September 6, 2013 4:40am
An attempt to ‘‘fix’’ the Tuppal Creek may be undone by charges required to deliver environmental water, according to Tuppal Creek landholder Greg Sandford.
Mr Sandford says 5000 megalitres of environmental water has been allocated to the creek, which flows into the Edward River.
At a meeting with the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage last Thursday, Mr Sandford said Tuppal Creek landholders were told the water may not be able to be delivered because of Murray Irrigation Limited’s delivery costs.
‘‘We were told MIL wants 20 per cent of the water to cover losses and a delivery fee per megalitre, which adds up to about $50,000,’’ Mr Sandford said.
‘‘Tuppal Creek Landcare Group has been working with the then Department of Natural Resources and now the Catchment Management Authority to try and fix the creek, but now the whole thing is in jeopardy.’’
Murray Irrigation Limited general manager Anthony Couroupis said he could not confirm the amount of water or the fee required to deliver the water, but did say a charge was necessary.
‘‘We have billing arrangements, and we treat the environment the same as any other customer,’’ he said.
‘‘It is reasonable to do so for our customers and our shareholders.
‘‘We consider the Office of Environment and Heritage the same as any other customer,’’
Mr Sandford said the efforts put in by the landholder group so far had been to repair damage to the creek in 2005.
He said the installation of drains in the creek without a management plan created water quality and salinity problems.
The poor water quality in the creek flowed into the Edward River and prompted a ‘boil water’ alert for four days because of the high levels of e.coli bacteria, Mr Sandford said.
The local farmer said because the creek was now used as an evaporation basin, drainage water enters the top of the creek and then stagnates in holes where it evaporates and concentrates leaving the water ‘‘slimy and putrid’’.
Without an environmental flow to prevent this from happening again, he said water supply could be in jeopardy for Tuppal Creek landholders and Deniliquin.
Mr Sandford said while environmental water has been allocated after making arrangement with the NSW and Commonwealth environmental water holders, its delivery could be delayed or abandoned.
‘‘We were told that if the environmental water holder does not agree to the 20 per cent, or cannot pay the fee, they won’t do it (deliver the water),’’ Mr Sandford said.
‘‘It was looking like we were getting it (the creek) back under control, we finally got clean water into it.
‘‘We didn’t realise there was an issue with the water being delivered until the meeting on Thursday.’’
The NSW Office of Environment and Heritage spokesperson said it would continue to negotiate the delivery of the environmental water to the Tuppal Creek.
‘‘The NSW Office of Environment and Heritage enjoys a productive partnership with Murray Irrigation in the delivery of environmental water which has achieved some great outcomes in recent years, with the cooperation of landholders in areas such as Tuppal Creek,’’ a spokesperson said.
‘‘An agreement for delivery of environmental water using the Murray Irrigation system this year is currently under discussion and OEH expects that this will be finalised in coming weeks.’’
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