Irrigators have access to first Sunwater release in four years
For the first time since July 2017 farmers drawing water from the Upper Condamine catchment will get access to their irrigation allocation.
Until June 30, medium priority irrigators can draw up to 75 per cent of their allocation.
The decision affects up to 80 producers, from Cecil Plains to Warwick.
They include Cecil Plains cotton producer Stuart Armitage who will draw and store his allocation to water a summer cotton crop.
“It is a big plus for us,” he said.
“The price of cotton is good at the moment so we should be able to make a reasonable income out of it.
“It is also a big plus for the Toowoomba economy.”
For the past four years irrigators have idled along, relying on bores and sporadic showers while at the same time paying for the water licence.
“It is not much fun, but it is what we signed up for,” Mr Armitage said.
“In drought years it is like paying for a car you cannot drive but we have to continue to pay to maintain the dam, the pumps and other infrastructure.”
Sunwater announced the decision on Wednesday after recent rain resulted in Leslie Dam filling to 28.53 per cent capacity, up from 6 per cent in 2019.
There is currently 30,005 megalitres in the dam and the medium priority allocation will be available as long as the dam’s supply level remains above 15,000 megalitres, giving room to extend the allocations past June 30.
High priority users, such as Warwick’s urban supply, will remain at 100 per cent allocation.
Between Sunwater’s decision and the widespread showers, Mr Armitage said he and his fellow producers were keen to plant.
“We are all extremely positive for the next year and it is probably the most positive outlook we have had out here for a number of years,” he said.
Originally published as Irrigators have access to first Sunwater release in four years