Tag Archives: irrigation

Guilty plea over water theft will do little to stop over extraction

NSW Greens Water Spokesperson Jeremy Buckingham has welcomed a guilty plea to water theft charges by a big irrigator but warned that legal over-extraction for cotton irrigation was leading to the demise of rivers and wetlands in the Murray-Darling Basin.

Mr Buckingham said, “It is good to see an actual prosecution take place for water theft, given that the NSW Ombudsman found that water compliance and enforcement was effectively stopped for many years under the NSW government.

“While this prosecution is welcome, it is the legal extraction too much water for cotton irrigation that is causing rivers like the Darling to die.

“Up and down the Murray-Darling Basin, there are many irrigators undertaking excessive or illegal water extraction secure in the knowledge the NSW Nationals will protect their vested interests over the environment or communities who rely on a healthy river.

“I join many landholders and communities along our rivers that have lost confidence in the ability of the Nationals to effectively administer the water portfolio for the good of all water users, not just their big irrigator mates and political donors.

“It’s also completely unacceptable that Water Minister Niall Blair now has new powers meaning he can retrospectively legalise illegal works and water thefts. This disadvantages irrigators who are doing the right thing and leaves the faucet open for attempts at undue or corrupt influence on the Minister.

“These illegal channels and dams divert a vast volume of flood water away from natural waterways and into irrigation storages, making a few greedy irrigators rich at the expense of our rivers.

“Water theft has real world consequences for the environment and downstream communities. While landholders and communities continue to struggle with drought and the impacts of climate change, the Nationals hold back the urgent action needed for healthy flowing rivers,” he said.

Greens cranky it’s taken years for Nationals to remove dam proposal off the table in Central West

NSW Greens Rural Water spokesperson Jeremy Buckingham has welcomed the NSW Nationals caving into Greens and community pressure and taking the proposal for a dam at Cranky Rock off the table.

Mr Buckingham said the decision, made five months out from a tight State election, confirms the Greens’ suspicion that the original Needles Dam and the Cranky Rock alternative were nothing more than ‘back of the beer coaster’ proposals.

“Nothing gets between the National Party and hole in the ground or a new dam or both,” he said.

“When the Nationals are under pressure, they quickly fall back on the same formula of more dams, regardless of whether they’re necessary or adversely impact on the community and nature.

“If they’d listened to the Greens years ago when we first raised our objections, the community would have had greater certainty and alternative water security measures could already have been in place.

“NSW does not need new dams, we need smart local water solutions such as stormwater harvesting, increasing efficiency and recycling.

“The Liberal/Nationals have been in government for seven years but they forgot to forward-plan for drought.

“The Nationals are still in denial about climate change despite drought and extreme weather and the reality of its impacts hitting home to many on the land. They are nowhere to be seen when it comes to protecting communities from misuse and theft of water by the mining industry or big irrigators.

“There’s a natural fit between the increasing concern about natural cycles and the need for climate action, which will give farmers and the Greens more in common than ever before.

“The Nationals should be damn worried that regional communities will wake up to the fact they’ve lost touch and vote them out at the next election,” Mr Buckingham said.

📷: Central Western Daily