Letter to The Land Editor:
In response to Mal Peters article 28/5/15 in The Land, I have no doubt of Mal’s sincerity in believing he is endeavouring to further the interests of his fellow farmers. However, for a person of his NSW Farmers background and now Chair of the Northern Basin Advisory Committee set up by the MDBA, to talk of the Government initiatives from the “CAP” to the “Living Murray” and now “the Basin Plan”, being to fix the over-allocated rivers; clearly demonstrates his total lack of understanding of how the allocation system works.
All users have a water entitlement. However, annually the available water resource depending on inflow is apportioned in the following way. First water covers conveyance losses. Second water is for critical human needs (towns & cities) and stock & domestic needs. Third water goes to identified approved environmental needs. Then, if any water remains it goes to productive use as a percentage of their entitlement-an allocation.
If there is no water remaining in storage, as happened in the recent 10 year drought, NSW Murray General Security irrigators received ZERO announced allocation for 2 years, as well as a year of 9% and 10%.
With this knowledge, how can anybody NOT understand the difference between a Water Entitlement (a license) and the Annual Announced Water Allocation, which is a percentage of Entitlement, given each year depending on Water Availability.
It either demonstrates ignorance of the above or shows the damage that our leaders are inflicting when playing politics with our essential national water resources, to perhaps secure votes in key South Australian electoral seats.
Some may argue that too many entitlements were granted on some rivers. If so, the only ones impacted are the irrigators whose annual Announced Water Allocation will fall, as the first apportioned water goes to conveyance, town/cities and the environment ahead of irrigators and the remainder spread over irrigator’s entitlements.
It is disturbing to see that the “Basin Plan” seems to be driven by the aim of maintaining the naturally estuarine Lower Lakes of Alexandrina and Albert as freshwater, since the Barrages construction in the 1930’s. To utilize reliable water inflows from the Southern connected rivers of Murrumbidgee, Murray and Victorian tributaries, to keep the Lower Lakes as freshwater and into the Southern Ocean, cannot continue without change. The evaporation losses from these Lower Lakes and planned Southern Ocean discharges is equivalent to the Hume Dam storage!
So where is the merit of not including the future management (and return to estuarine status) of the Lower Lakes in the whole Murray Darling Basin future management plan?