Forests that would otherwise be dry during times of drought are being flushed with liquid gold as irrigators struggle to keep livestock watered and to keep crops alive, says Shadow Water Minister Steph Ryan.
Media reports last week highlight yet again the pressure irrigators are under while the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder (CEWH) flushes about 400GL of environmental water down the river as part of the Southern Spring Flows program that began in August.
Ms Ryan has continued the push for 300GL of environment water to be traded onto the market to assist drought-affected farmers in Victoria and NSW.
“Irrigators are in desperate need of more water for livestock and crops, but instead they’re forced to watch 400GL of water flood forests that would otherwise be dry at a time of drought,” Ms Ryan said.
“There’s an opportunity to urgently trade 300GL of environment water onto the market that would make a real difference for our drought-affected farmers in Victoria and NSW.
“Temporary water has risen to prices not seen since the height of the millennium drought, soaring to $800/ML in recent weeks and expected to head further north towards $1000/ML soon.
“The CEWH carried over 420GL in its Southern Basin carryover account this year – the water is there.
“Communities in northern Victoria are at breaking point and urgently need to see more water made available.”
Ms Ryan said immediate action was also needed from the Victorian Government.
The Victorian Liberal Nationals have been leading calls for the release of 75GL of water owed to Goulburn Murray irrigators as part of the Connections Project.
Victorian Water Minister Lisa Neville missed the June 2019 deadline to return this water to irrigators.
“The Minister owes Victorian irrigators a guarantee this water won’t be traded away and will be returned to irrigators – in full,” Ms Ryan said.
“Our communities are hurting. Enough is enough. Spring St and Canberra need to start listening to our irrigators before it’s too late.”
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