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Letter to the Editor (Weekly Times)


Hands off environmental water


Date :16 October 2018

As soon as Barnaby Joyce was given the job of Drought Envoy in late August he focussed immediately on Environmental Water. “Water that is going to the environment is going past irrigation properties that could grow fodder to keep cattle alive……….They (farmers) just take it, because it’s a national emergency. Now this (drought) as far as I’m concerned, is a national emergency”.
Despite vigorous opposition to this idea from environmentalists, the Minister for Agriculture, water managers and even the National Irrigators Council this issue has continued to bubble along.
Other less extreme voices have suggested that environmental water be loaned to farmers or sold, rather than simply stolen. In fact, all three options have been tried before and none have resulted in more fodder for cattle. All three most certainly would be bad for the environment.
All irrigators know what water is worth right now, and it’s highly unlikely they would use this water on a fodder crop which would take many months to grow and mature and which could be worth little the day that the drought breaks. They would be more likely to sell the water on to other irrigators growing high value crops such as fruit, nuts or cotton.

At this stage, the current drought is a 1 in 100 year drought. Just 8 years ago we saw the end of a 1 in 1000 year drought. One good thing to come out of the earlier drought was the Murray Darling Basin Plan. It is a plan to equitably distribute water between the myriad of users (including the environment). It is a Plan which is of most value when the water resource is under stress. It is a plan

 

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