Yea producer Jan Beer said she was angry at the allegations.
“Their actions impact on every one else in the Murray Darling Basin, giving all irrigators a bad name,” Ms Beer said. “In actual fact, the vast majority of our food producers abide by the irrigation rules and regulations.”
She said the revelations also played on the fact that, except in times of very large flows, the Darling River always looked to be in need of more water.
Sunraysia Branch VFF water spokesman Bill McClumpha said the revelations were disturbing – but not suprising. “There have long been question marks as to Department of Primary Industries (DPI) water compliance in the Northern Basin, and as to the bona fides of NSW with respect to achieving a fair and balanced Murray Darling Basin Plan,” Mr. McClumpha said.
“But water theft is only part of the story; environmental flows are being diverted to cotton storages, with catastrophic consequences to downstream users. This was substantially due to the 2012 changes to the “low flow” rules in the Barwon Darling water sharing plan.
“Now we have a raft of inquiries under way, and calls for more, but it’s difficult to believe that any substantive findings will result.”
Mr McClumpha said a clearer clearer picture of the real politics of the plan had emerged. “It raises questions regarding the 70GL, dropped from Northern Basin recovery targets as a result of the northern Basin review.” He said he believed it was too late for South Australia to recover its position, against that of NSW, Victoria and Mr Joyce.
“When the Ernst Young report socio-economic report, is handed down, South Australia can expect to be denied any recovery of the 450 gigalitres (GL) of upwater it believes should be recovered.”
Murray Valley Private Diverters acting chairman John Lolicato said The Murray River irrigators in NSW and Victoria operated under entirely different rules. “Private diverters on the NSW Murray system have been highly regulated and fully metered,” Mr Lolicato said. “Now they have the latest technology in telemetry - every time a pump is turned on, the timing and volumes are reported back to Water NSW.
“An irrigator can’t pump water without a current water order, and extraction is limited to the allocation amount held in their account.”