SA irrigators plead for allocation information

SA irrigators plead for allocation information


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FLOW BLOW: Murray Bridge irrigator Richard Reedy said planning, without knowing water allocations, is virtually impossible for farmers.

FLOW BLOW: Murray Bridge irrigator Richard Reedy said planning, without knowing water allocations, is virtually impossible for farmers.

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MANY irrigators along the River Murray are '"flying blind" as they seek information on water allocations from the state government.

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MANY irrigators along the River Murray are '"flying blind" as they seek information on water allocations from the state government.

SA Murray Irrigators chair Caren Martin said the lack of information was putting unnecessary pressure on growers who needed to make business decisions for the impending irrigation year.

"Without knowing allocations, or even a range or potential, they're really flying blind on how much and what type of product, or if they need carryover. There's a lot of uncertainty," she said.

A government spokesperson said River Murray irrigators had been advised they were likely to receive reduced allocations in the 2016-17 water year, due to dry conditions in the Murray-Darling Basin and forecasts of low storage volumes.

"The department uses the latest available water availability data to determine allocations, with opening allocations subject to change depending on availability," the spokesperson said. 

"Rainfall and other factors mean this outlook can change in the lead up to the formal announcement.

"SA will provide an indicative opening allocation announcement by the end of April, under different availability scenarios, taking into account the climate outlook, which will be subject to change."

Murray Bridge farmer Richard Reedy uses flood irrigation to grow pastures for beef cattle and also runs a consultancy for irrigators in the Lower Murray. He is calling on the state government to release more pertinent allocation information, not just ambiguous statements.

"We'd like the facts as soon as possible because that would help us make decisions like whether we will have carryover, whether we purchase temporary allocations and carry that water forward," Mr Reedy said.

Mr Reedy said planning for the irrigation year, not knowing concrete allocations, was “pretty well impossible” for farmers. He has reduced his stock numbers as a safeguard to prepare for potential allocation reductions.

While irrigators have to wait until the end of the month for another statement on allocations, Ms Martin said the prompt release of information by government and better planning could help prevent this situation from occuring in the future.

"We've been working for a long time towards the release of a water allocation plan, one that's heading towards being basin plan compliant," she said.

"We need to know, from water reform trials and the political process surrounding the basin plan, that the good faith irrigators showed in participation and shutting back their water for the environment hasn't been for nothing."

The story SA irrigators plead for allocation information first appeared on Stock Journal.

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