The future health of the Barmah Choke was discussed at a meeting between NSW irrigators and NSW Senator Perin Davey and Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley recently.
One of the irrigators present, former Murray Irrigation chair Mark Robertson, who farms at Finley, said the group wanted to emphasis the need for independent, transparent, efficient and accurate metering of the system and had been discussing water issues with the MPs for some time.
One of the more specific issues they discussed was the audit of Murray-Darling Basin operations and how the public report had not been available “for a number of years”.
“That comes back to transparency,” Mr Robertson said.
Senator Davey said the farmers were concerned about the water trading downstream of the Barmah Choke and were adamant that more water could not leave the southern Riverina.
“They were very strict on the fact that the trading rules must be maintained,” she said.
“I understand the frustration of those on the ground but we haven’t forgotten the issue — it’s very much a live issue.
“A lot of the work we do is not about chasing headlines or getting stories in the paper.
“A lot of work is behind the scenes and even if it it may not seem like it, we are very much doing things.”
Senator Davey said she had regular meetings with both federal and NSW water ministers, which she uses to pass on the concerns of irrigators.
“The problem is he’s (Federal Water Minister Keith Pitt) not only hearing from a senator of NSW but people all across the country, and he has to find solutions if we are going to finalise the basin plan,” she said.
“We need to make sure any solution doesn’t undermine the work already done and have negative impacts.
“We need to make sure we get it right and protect our communities.”