Media Release


Irrigators asked to pay more than their fair share to look after rivers

Irrigators’ in NSW are being dealt another blow, with a new proposal for irrigators to pay an even larger share of the costs for managing the states rivers.

CEO of the NSW Irrigators’ Council, Claire Miller, said “Australians would reasonably expect Government to cover the costs of protecting towns and cities from floods, ensuring adequate water quality, and looking after river environments – it is wrong for these public costs to be passed onto the irrigation industry.”

“If you ask the average person how much irrigators pay for environmental planning and protection of the state’s rivers, they probably wouldn’t even realise irrigators fund it.”

The WaterNSW proposal would see irrigators’ water bills increase up to 240%, in order to pick up the government’s bill.

Under the proposal, irrigators would have to pay 80% of the costs of environmental planning & protection, flood operations, and water quality monitoring – items irrigators already pay 50% of the costs for.

Irrigators have long rejected the current pricing framework in NSW of ‘impactor pays’, which goes against the states commitment to the National Water Initiative, where a ‘user pays’ model is considered best-practice.

“Everyone would agree that water management is in everyone’s interest, whether they directly benefit, or they indirectly value the health and good management of our river systems.

“If it’s in the public interest, it should be publicly funded.”

“Irrigators are happy to pay our fair share, but we expect the same of government.”

“The wave of recent reforms to water management have not been to the benefit of the irrigation industry, in fact, many were designed specifically to reduce irrigation.”

The irrigation industry is particularly concerned that they are being asked to cover cost blow outs from the operation of WaterNSW over the previous pricing determination period.

“If you underestimate your costs, and blow your budget, you can’t simply go running to irrigators who have had next to no water for 3 years to try and recover the costs.”

“Irrigators simply cannot be left to pick up the bill on behalf of the public.”

“A new cost-sharing framework is the only way forward.”

NSWIC has provided a detailed submission to IPART in 2020, as well as a supplementary submission in 2021 in response to new information becoming available. Agencies have indicated that they did not receive many submissions during the consultation period.

NSWIC is urging irrigators who object to this proposal to express your concerns, and join the call for a new pricing framework in which public interest costs are more fairly shared.

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The draft determination will be published in March 2021.

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