Editorial by Andrew Gregson

Welcome to the fourth edition of Productive Water, the Journal of the NSW Irrigators Council. We’ve been delighted at the reception this Journal has received from Water Access License Holders across the State. Your feedback has been greatly welcome – and continues to be. Don’t hesitate to be in touch with us. 
Inside this issue you’ll find a range of articles that, when seen together, reflect the extremely broad agenda that NSW Irrigators Council is faced with. It seems that not a day goes past without another issue falling onto our collective desks. Aside from the Basin Plan (which you’ll find further detail on inside), we’ve recently been advised that both the NSW Government and Opposition intend to separately look at Just Terms Compensation legislation in this State.
That’s obviously a big issue for irrigators as we continue to defend water as a property right. The Menindee Lakes, sitting between the Upper and Lower Darling and as the linchpin between the Northern and Southern Basin, have had their fair share of attention over the past few years. It was under the previous Federal Government
(under Prime Minister Rudd) that first set aside $400m to achieve efficiency savings. To date, nothing has been done to achieve that – but the NSW Office of Water has contributed an article in this edition explaining some of the options at the Lakes.
In our “View From Here” regular feature, we’ve published an academic view of the comparisons between California, Australia and Israel authored by Michael Gilmont from Kings College in London. I first met Michael a few years ago at World Water Week in Stockholm. He’s since visited a range of irrigators and regions in Australia with us and will likely be one of the global thought leaders over the next couple of decades, so his article is well worth a read.
NSW Farmers Association, a Member of NSW Irrigators Council, is at the forefront of the current debate over the impact on land and water resources of mining and coal seam gas development. That leadership culminated in a significant rally at Parliament House in Sydney not long ago. Brianna Casey from NSWFA has contributed an article which provides and excellent background on the issue.

Read the full Productive Water Journal from Winter 2012 [HERE]

Editorial by Andrew Gregson

We chose the name “Productive” for very good reason. Irrigators are accused on the odd occasion of “wasting” water. Nothing could be further from the truth. Every drop that we extract is for productive use. Do you like wine?
It’s highly likely part of what you’re drinking was from irrigation. Enjoyed your orange juice at breakfast this morning? Again, highly likely that it was irrigated (because that’s Australian juice you’re drinking, right?). Rice with your dinner? Irrigated. Popcorn with your movie? Irrigated. If any Australian thinks they don’t have an interest in irrigation, they should take off everything they’re wearing that’s made of cotton. Perhaps close the blinds first.
There’s no doubt that at some stage in the Basin Plan process – and in every other policy move around water use – there are good intentions at play. Somewhere along the line with the Basin Plan, though, things derailed
and politics became the driving force. Basin Plan politics plays out differently for different sectors – what you hear in Adelaide is entirely different to what you hear in Brisbane. What you hear in Canberra is somewhere between the effectiveness of the lobby groups and the polling of marginal seats.
NSW Irrigators Council has spent plenty of time in the last few years reminding the metropolitan centres that the Basin Plan has real effects on them. A job loss is a job loss no matter where it occurs. Closure of communities will be felt everywhere. If the price of fresh food is forced up with the removal of water, it’s
everyone’s hip pocket that will suffer. That’s because irrigators use water for productive means. That production, according to a report just released by the NSW Government, results in 3.55 jobs being created by each and every irrigator just in their operation. Each operator then directs 60% of their farm expenditure into the nearest community where the dollars are productive again.
The equation is simple – water used for irrigation is Productive Water.

Read the full Productive Water Journal from Autumn 2012 [HERE]

Editorial by Andrew Gregson

The big issue for irrigators in NSW this quarter is obviously the Basin Plan. This edition of Productive Water has been written prior to it being released (at least formally – there are plenty of leaks about). We did contemplate holding this edition until the release had occurred, but “mid-November” was the best information we could find. We asked “what year?”, but didn’t get an answer…
We have been delighted with the reception that our first edition received. Mailed directly into the hands of around 8,500 irrigators across the State, the Journal proved a talking point for several weeks.
Inside this second edition you’ll find some more detailed pieces examining critical issues for irrigators. Southern Riverina Irrigators Executive Officer – and subject matter expert – Louise Burge provides an analysis of the vexed question of the lower Lakes. Louise has dedicated many, many hours to understanding this complex question and we’re delighted to publicise her work.
The second feature from our Sharing the Knowledge program, written by program coordinator and NSWIC Policy Analyst Mark Moore, is also inside. Whilst you’re reading this, that program will be touring Queensland examining what irrigators in that State are doing and sharing tips, tricks and local knowledge in a series of free forums. In the last edition, we featured interviews with key Federal players Minister Burke and Senator Joyce. In this edition, we move to a State focus with an interview with NSW Primary Industries Minister Katrina Hodgkinson.
We’re also delighted to be able to bring some coverage to the excellent work undertaken by Austin Evans from Coleambally Irrigation. It has irked NSWIC for some time that environmental lobbyists continue to spruik that “90% of wetlands in the Murray-Darling Basin” have gone. We knew it just didn’t ring true – so Austin got to work uncovering where it came from. The fellow to whom it is accredited disowned the figure when Austin was finally able to track it down. Even in the face of the glaring truth, though, environmental lobby groups continue to use it.
Finally, given the Draft Basin Plan, an analysis of its underlying legislation – which we think is the root cause of the problem – is inside.

Read the full Productive Water Journal from Summer 2011 [HERE]