Farmers hit back in water stoush

FARMERS at the end of the line have hit back at claims environmental flows down the Murrumbidgee would wipe out vast slabs of agricultural land near Wagga and say the water is “desperately” needed downstream.
Nanjing Night Net

DRIED OUT: Peter, Brett and Tom Morton downstream on the Murrumbidgee. Picture: Supplied

It comes as Collingullie landholders ramp up the fight against the flows ahead of immanent releases and proposals put forward by the Murray-Darling Basin Authority to increase those releases.

They say the “plan to save the Murray comes at the expense of the Murrumbidgee” and fearinundation of their land.

ButBalranald farmerDavid Lockhart refutes that and said the flows are “well and truly” below minor flood height.

The last assessment had 4.9-metre river level peakat Wagga, with theminor flood height just over seven metres.

Baranald sits at the junction of the Murrumbidgee and Murray rivers, about 100 kilometres west of Hay.

“For our wetlands to receive any water those rivers need to be running fairly high,” Mr Lockhart said.

“The Murrumbidgee needs to be running 5000 megalitres a day.”

Mr Lockhart said a flow of that capacity is what’s needed toreach wetlands along the Murray.

“It isdesperately needed for our area,” he said.

“So we are100 per cent in support of the Office of Environment and Heritage and their effortsto get water down to our wetlands. There hasn’t been a substantial flood where we are since 1993.

“Our trees are dying.”

Mr Lockhart said the flows, known as “piggy back flows”, double down on recent rain. He said a major flood could be less severe because of the reduced dam height.

Meanwhile, another farmer downstream has written that she hopes the beauty of the Murrumbidgee can be preserved for generations to come.

Sue Morton said in a letter to the editor that without environmental flows, native flora and fauna are at risk.

“Our river rarely runs a high flow. Consequently, all the billabongs, creek systems and lakes do not receive their supply that created them in the first instance,” she said.

“We have areas where 100-year-old trees may perish due to the lack of water.We hope that all families can enjoy and share the beauty of the mighty Murrumbidgee River and not deny the people downstream the same pleasure that they experience.”

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