A senior Riverina religious leader has weighed into the debate surrounding the controversial issue of water.
Speaking at the Anglican Diocese of Riverina's 63rd annual Synod in Griffith, Bishop of Riverina Donald Kirk said providing safe and sustainable water supplies for everyone was "a human and spiritual imperative".
Bishop Kirk said the Riverina was built on the creative use of water for irrigation, but many individuals and communities were now struggling to survive with the extreme lack of water, which was also affecting people's mental health.
"Without the people on the land growing the orchards and crops and grazing stock, those living in the rest of the nation would not have the necessary food supplies. We talk about the mental health of those on the land yet fail to give them the one thing that will help - water," he said.
The Riverina diocese covers more than a third of NSW and includes the drought-affected communities of Wilcannia, Broken Hill and Menindee, as well as Wentworth and the Riverina communities along the Murray River.
"The four rivers of our Diocese: the Darling River, Lachlan River, Murrumbidgee River and Murray River are the heart and soul of life in the west of the state of NSW," Bishop Kirk said.
"The water in and from these rivers nourishes all life; the rivers and channels are the arteries that feed orchards, crops and stock. The Riverina is a significant part of the 'food bowl' that sustains our nation."
Quoting the Water Act 2007, the Bishop said "critical human water needs are the highest priority water use for communities who are dependent on [Murray Darling] Basin water resources".
Mr Barilaro has this week said the state should be "pausing all water sharing plans" while the drought continued, saying "we need to put people before the environment".
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