Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall described the decision to release water from the Gwydir, Macquarie, Lachlan, Murrumbidgee and Murray-Lower Darling valleys for farmers to buy for irrigation as a wonderful initiative.
He said it had the full support of the farming sector and should be matched by the federal government, as the Commonwealth held larger water reserves than the state.
“At the moment there is 120,000 megalitres of environmental water held in Copeton Dam, with the overwhelming majority of that held by the Commonwealth,” Mr Marshall said.
“The state government holds a relatively small portion, and that will be released for farming purposes, given the extraordinary dry conditions being experienced at the moment.
“Graziers may then have the opportunity to purchase hay and other fodder within the region, rather than stumping up scarce funds to haul essential feed from interstate.”
All proceeds from the sale of the water will be held in trust with the Primary Industries Department and used for priority drought-related projects.
Northern Tablelands-based Nationals NSW Senator John Williams said it was time water held back for the environment was released to farmers to grow feed.
“I’d welcome the federal government the chance to do that; use some of that water to keep the farmers going. It would be a good decision in my books,” he said.
It’s late for sure, and could have been done sooner. Probably better late than never.NSW Senator John Williams
“You see, this is one of the things that infuriates me. We keep so much water back for the environment, especially the Murray, to run water down the Basin to reduce salinity, while in many cases we’re crucifying rural communities who don’t have enough water.”
Member for New England and Drought Assistance Special Envoy Barnaby Joyce said the State Government had made a great start.
“I also say to my own colleagues, let’s walk up to the line and start allocating a serious amount of water so we can grow some Lucerne,” he said.
“I’d like to see in excess of 100,000 water released. That would give us the capacity to water a large section of land for growing of Lucerne.
“We also have to work out how to deal with the bottlenecks like getting fodder out of the Northern Territory and getting grain across from the West. We can unload it in places such as Werris Creek and Narrabri.”