Grower groups have criticised the ABC's Four Corners program 'Cash Splash' which aired on Monday night that examined water efficiency funding programs in the Murrumbidgee Valley.
Ricegrowers Association president Jeremy Morton said the on-farm irrigation efficiency (OFIEP) and private irrigation infrastructure (PIIOP) programs were the "most sustainable means of recovering water for the environment".
Mr Morton said almost 20 per cent of water used for irrigation had been returned to the environment.
"That's over 2100 billion litres of water to the environment, with 640 billion litres as a result of irrigation farmers improving their water efficiency," Mr Morton said.
He said the efficiency programs had helped support growers and allowed water recovery targets to be met without decimating irrigation communities.
Riverina Winegrape Growers chairman Bruno Brombal said he was disappointed to see a focus on the negatives.
Mr Brombal said while the focus had been on larger or corporate irrigators, many small growers had upgraded from flood irrigation thanks to the efficiency programs.
"A lot of us small growers have done it. Putting in drip irrigation has been one of the best things ever done," Mr Brombal said.
He said the efficiencies weren't only in water use, but in work needed to maintain and harvest grape vines more easily.
He said some growers might still be using flood irrigation without the government support.
Griffith mayor John Dal Broi said Four Corners hadn't considered the impact on individual communities in the Murray Darlin Basin.
Councillor Dal Broi said the development works funded by the efficiency programs had supported communities surrounding those farms.
"You wouldn't find anyone involved in irrigation who doesn't disagree with the Murray Darling Basin Plan, we're all uncomfortable with it," Cr Dal Broi said.
Cr Dal Broi said the program would help highlight the issues facing communities in the Basin for people outside of them.
"I don't support laying blame for anyone who has done development, be they small or big, they've done it within the law that exists. If we don't like it, we've got to change those laws," he said.
"If this is going to make government sit down and examine the inequalities in the program, then it will have been successful."
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