HIGH-profile Griffith water users and city officials enjoyed a rare opportunity to sit face-to-face with Members of the NSW Upper House on Wednesday to discuss their handling of water.
The inquiry into augmentation of water supply for rural and regional NSW saw Griffith representation speak with concern about the current water sharing plan.
The Honourable Rick Colless, The Honourable Paul Green, The Honourable Matthew Mason-Cox and The Honourable Penelope Sharpe were on hand to hear the concerns of the community.
President of Murrumbidgee Food and Fibre Association Debbie Buller called on the visiting NSW Upper House members to address issues within the plans during the inquiry.
The current plan was first enacted in 2004 but later suspended due to the drought, before being reintroduced in 2011 with tweaks brought on by what Mrs Buller described as ideas that ‘weren’t working’.
“Unfortunately most of those tweaks were a classic example of the management managing the system for the benefit of the management,” she said.
“Some of those rules were changed and they have not really delivered on their promises.”
Griffith Mayor John Dal Broi has called on rules and regulations to be made clearer.
“I really want the average irrigator to be able to understand the whole water issue,” he said “They get an allocation and allocations are increased or you are locked in. Then the water trading rules, carry over rules, supplementary water rules it's all so complex.”
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“You nearly have to be a professor to understand them all ...”
Along with wanting to fix the water sharing plans, the other hot topic was the Clarence River Scheme, initially conceptualised by David Coffey in the 1970s.
The plan outlined diverting river flows westward from high rainfall catchments in the Northern Rivers.
According to Griffith City Council, the scheme will benefit lands south of the Dumaresq River while also providing flows into the Murray River, reducing the reliance for Murray-Darling Basin allocations to fill the original allocation to the basin.
“We have looked at various options and we look at the Clarence Valley area where there are millions of millions of megalitres of water flowing out into the sea for what seems to be for no real benefit,” Councilor Dino Zappacosta said.
Griffith City Council general manager, Brett Stonestreet said it’s time the scheme is looked at again.
“It provides new water to give this state another shot in the arm,” he said.
“It also looks at potentially reducing flooding impact of the coastal communities adjacent to the Clarence by 25 per cent.
“There is a huge amount of money that can be generated and inland communities rediscovered and regenerated through new water.”
Mayor Dal Broi was pleased with how the inquiry was conducted and the feedback from the Senators.
“Some of the questions that were asked by the panel members, we know now what they are thinking,” he said.
“They were very receptive to the concept of new water so whether it's the diversion of the Clarence or lifting the wall on Burrinjuck Dam ... they were very receptive to that because we tried to make the point that the limited resources at the moment.”
“We need new water if our regions are to grow and have a better long-term sustainable allocation.”