The Member for Murray has criticised a move to allow floodplain harvesting up north
Recent rainfall was a welcome sight for farmers across the Southern Riverina, as the region heads towards the average rainfall for the season.
But, Member for Murray Helen Dalton said rain will not end the drought if the NSW Government allows certain farmers to secretly siphon off water before it reaches the river.
"Government ministers keep saying only rain with fix our problem," Mrs Dalton said
"Well, with the rain this month we’ve seen a secret regulation change that allowed rainwater to be diverted for private use.
"If this continues to happen, downstream towns with no drinking water won’t get a drop, even if we have a wet 2020."
Mrs Dalton criticised Water Minister Melinda Pavey's recent decision to allow a select few irrigators in North-West NSW to harvest rainwater onto their on-farm storages, preventing the water from reaching the Darling River.
The Minister temporarily lifted an embargo on the practice known as floodplain harvesting in certain cotton growing valleys.
A leaked email from a NSW Government bureaucrat to lobbyists revealed the NSW Government desperately tried to justify this decision after they’d already given the green light for irrigators to divert the rainwater.
"Clearly lobbyists have had a huge say in what is going on," Mrs Dalton continued.
"I'm calling for the NSW Government to have an embargo on floodplain harvesting for all, not just allowing a select few to take water when downstream communities and towns need the water desperately."
The Shooters Fishers and Farmers Party member said the practice stops water from the Darling River, which has disastrous consequences downstream.
"There's a certain percentage of water that South Australia calls on from the Menindee Lakes," Mrs Dalton explained.
"Now if water doesn't reach the Menindee Lakes then water is then taken off irrigators in the Murray.
"So those people that are taking water up there are really denying irrigation communities, the environment and towns, water. To me, that sounds like a very greedy way to manage water."
Irrigators along the Murray River in NSW have received zero allocation for several irrigation seasons in a row, which impacted productivity.