- Murray Irrigation releases, free of charge, 53GL of water to customers facing dire drought-related circumstances in the Riverina
- The decision was made today on the back of yet another zero percent allocation by DoI-Water
- Murray Irrigation, along with the resource distribution that has a market value of approximately $28M, is putting pressure on DoI-W and the MDBA to explain system mismanagement that could have contributed to extraordinary and excessive losses to customers in the Murray system.
Murray Irrigation announces resource distribution
Riverina-based Murray Irrigation has announced that it will distribute 53GL of much needed water to its customers immediately, and free of charge.
The company’s board endorsed a management recommendation to make the water available to mitigate the dire circumstances being faced by its predominantly family-farm customer base.
The distribution, which has a current market value of about $28 million, has been made on the back of a Department of Industry-Water (DoI-W) announcement earlier today that the allocation of water to farmers holding general security water licences would remain at zero for the year.
General security water licence holders dominate irrigated agriculture in the NSW Murray region.
The DoI-W announcement has crushed the hopes of many Murray Irrigation customers who had relied on forecasts by the department early in the season of an allocation of up to 14 percent this month (February).
Since that forecast, both the DoI-W and the Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) have run the system at a rate that has generated what company Chairman and farmer Phil Snowden believes are extraordinary and excessive losses that have deprived customers of what could amount to 200GL or as much as 400GL of water.
“We first raised the issue formally with the NSW Minister’s office in early December and it prompted him to ask his department for a review of losses, where they were attributed and how it might be improved,” Mr Snowden said.
“As late as last week, we were advised by the MDBA that it was contributing to that Ministerial response and that Murray Irrigation would be provided with a briefing note in time for most of its meetings with customers later this month,” he said.
If confirmed, the loss of 200GL to irrigated agriculture would add further to calls for scrutiny of the water management decisions made by MDBA and DoI-W.
Despite being Australia’s largest farmer-owned water delivery company, Murray Irrigation’s largest single customer operation is the delivery of environmental water.
“Our criticism is not of the Basin Plan specifically but in the decisions being made to run the system that delivers it,” Mr Snowden said.