Monday, 1 December 2014

Water dries up for irrigated agriculture in central west NSW

<br/><a href="" target="_blank">View Raw Image</a>Irrigated agricultural production along the Belubula and Lachlan Rivers in central west New South Wales will be a fraction of what it could be this year.
This is due to some significant logistical problems with the supply of water.
Crops of maize, lucerne and cotton will not be planted or will be scaled back this irrigation season because there is no water available, despite some farmers still holding carryover allocations.
Local landholder Michael Paynten says his irrigated agricultural production will be down by 80 per cent.
His property is at the very end of the Belubula River, close to the junction with the Lachlan River.
"We've got no water down the end here," he said.
"We've probably only had water for about 10 of the last 30 days."
Mr Paynten, who is the chairman of the Belubula Landholders Association, has been in conversations with the NSW Office of Water, but says ultimately, until it rains, there is nothing that can be done.
"The river has a very sandy bottom and big kind of linked aquifer, so the water just disappears, unless they release enough to get it down here," he explained.
Mr Paynten says there are approximately 10,000 megalitres of water remaining in Carcoar Dam, but there are 13,000 megalitres of carryover water allocated to local landholders.
"To actually deliver that 13,000 megalitres your would need almost double the amount of water.
"We are way out of kilter.
"For us personally, it cuts our production by about 80 per cent."
Further downstream along the Lachlan River there have been no water allocations for the last three years.
Landholder Ted Morgan estimates total production will be down by 30 per cent.
The water is physically available, but irrigators have stopped planting crops as their entitlements run out.
"There is production going on, but it's limited," he said.
The price of temporary water is reaching its highest price since the millennium drought as a result.
"[It's] gone up from $50 at the beginning of the season to well over $100. I think I have heard over $140.
"But there is no way that you can grow crops along the Lachlan at $100 a megalitre if you had to buy in every megalitre for the crop."

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