Councillor Ross Bartley.
Councillor Ross Bartley.

Water cuts prove threat to region

IF THE Southern Downs lost any water through the new draft Murray-Darling Basin plan, it would not be viable as a food-producing region, Cr Ross Bartley said.

The plan - which aimed to cut water allocation for irrigation in the agricultural industry for the health of the Murray-Darling - was released yesterday with 2750 gigalitres the suggested cut per year.

Cr Bartley said in consultation with the states, the federal government would decrease how much water could be taken from the Murray-Darling Basin and water systems which flow into it.

But the process didn't sit well with him.

"I am very disappointed they didn't come to Warwick to consult with us," he said.

"They went to Goondiwindi, Dalby and those places but they didn't come here."

Cr Bartley said the 2750 gigalitres in the draft included both over land and under ground water.

Cr Cameron Gow said the new draft - which would be implemented in 2019 - was an improvement on the original one with a lower cut but he maintained none of that should be taken from this region which already operated on the bare minimum.

"(The region) uses as much as a year on average as some cotton growers downstream yet the food and production output we have is enormous," he said.

"I would certainly encourage the community to make submissions on any impact on the region; we don't have much water as it is. We have little or no water to give."

The draft said the allocation should be cut so no more than 10,873 gigalitres per year was being taken from the waterway.

AgForce water spokesman Kim Bremner said the plan had a long way to go before being accepted by Queensland irrigators and the cuts to the amount of water farmers could take from the Condamine-Balonne, Moonie and Border Rivers systems were still too low.

"The Sustainable Diversion Limits (SDL) in this draft plan are still too low, but we are pleased it allows the government until 2019 to buy back water and prescribes a review in 2015 where further refinements can take place," Mr Bremner said.

"We've just endured 10 years of rigorous water planning processes with the State government to come up with a Queensland plan we maintain is environmentally sustainable so we still question why more water needs to be taken from irrigators.

"We believe with further work within the 'localism framework' we can achieve an outcome acceptable to the community and irrigators."


Murray-Darling Plan points

  • Cuts of 2750 gigalitres per year.
  • Total allocations should be 10,873 gigalitres per year.
  • The plan is to be implemented in 2019-2024 with a review in 2015.
  • Previous plan asked for cuts of 3000-4000 gigalitres per year.
  • 20-week consultation period for people to offer submissions about the draft.

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