Water buybacks will gut communities: LGSA

By Staff Writer

Councils in south west New South Wales have voiced their concerns over the Federal Government’s water buyback scheme.

The Local Government and Shires Associations of NSW said the scheme would “gut" local communities already affected by drought.

Shires Association president Cr Bruce Miller said the long term loss of water will impact on irrigation infrastructure and decimate local economies.

“Our farming communities in the nation’s food bowl, who produce over a fifth of the food produced in Australia, are already struggling with drought and water allocation cutbacks,” Cr Miller said.

“Farmers are being offered attractive prices for their water entitlements, but once these have been sold they’re gone for good and these farms have very little hope of ever operating at peak again.”

He warned that if this occurred across a number of farms, irrigators would leave affected areas, leading to a fall in jobs and decline in local economies.

“We have to ask whether all spheres of government understand the long term consequences buying up water entitlements will have on local communities,” he said.

The Riverina and Murray Regional Organisation of Councils (RAMROC) has called for Commonwealth funding for its Water for Food program.

RAMROC chair and Jerilderie Shire Council Mayor Terry Hogan said the program aims to protect irrigated food producers and their communities from the impacts of the water buyback scheme.

 “Not only is our food production at risk, but the massive loss of jobs in our local communities will be devastating,” he said.

“We need some serious research and development to make sure that we have long term sustainable farming practices in place to compensate for any reduction in water availability.”

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