Murray allocation increase welcomed.By Zoe McMaugh
Murray Valley irrigators now have access to 91 per cent of their general security water entitlement.
A 12 per cent increase was handed down by the NSW Office of Water yesterday.
NSW Water Commissioner David Harriss said the increase was made possible because of continuing inflows leading to an improvement to NSW Murray water availability.
Conargo farmer Colin Bull said the increase in general security water access would encourage many farmers to expand their crops.
He said the allocation increase would also ease the pressure on farmers, many of whom he believes would have been approaching the high temporary water price cautiously.
‘‘The allocation means people can put a little bit of extra rice in,’’ he said.
‘‘I would be surprised if we don’t make it to 100 (per cent of entitlement), which will really help people out.
‘‘With the price of temporary water, people will be reluctant to buy any extra.
‘‘Last I looked it was over $60 per megalitre, which would take all the profit out of it because of the price of commodities.’’
Barham farmer John Lolicato agreed the allocation reaching 91 per cent would instill confidence in the valley, but argued the Murray Valley should be at 100 per cent entitlement.
‘‘I have a strong belief we should already be at full allocation,’’ he said.
‘‘The only reason we are not is because carry-over (water) is sitting in the dam taking up space.
‘‘Carry-over should never have a negative impact on allocation and, like water and oil, should rise to the top and spill to make more room for allocated water.’’
With many storage dams at capacity, Mr Lolicato questioned the timing of a Victorian Environmental Waterholder decision to ‘‘water’’ the Barmah-Millewa forests.
‘‘The Victorian Environmental Waterholder wants 18,000ML a day released from the dams to water the Barmah-Millewa.
‘‘The probability of the dam spilling is quite huge, and putting water into the forest when that is likely to happen is strange.
‘‘The physical fact is, we now have so much water, where are we going to use it?’’
With the Commonwealth water-sharing plan being reviewed, Mr Lolicato hopes watering, carry-over rules and delivery constraints will be looked at.
He blamed delivery constraints as the reason the Murrumbidgee Valley only has 33 per cent of entitlement compared to the Murray Valley’s 91.
‘‘If we don’t look at constraints more seriously, we could go down the same path as Murrumbidgee,’’ he said.
Mr Harriss said while there had been enough improvement in water availability for a 10 per cent increase in the Murrumbidgee general security allocation, only five per cent of this can be delivered with certainty before the end of February.
He said deliverability constraints would be alleviated as water was used and with rainfall in the Burrinjuck catchment.
Additional information on available water determinations can be found at www.water.nsw.gov.au.
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