NSW Irrigators’ Council (NSWIC) welcomes this week’s announcement of extended deadlines for flood-affected water users to upgrade metering equipment in coastal valleys and the southern Murray-Darling Basin.
“The extension is necessary given the difficult times facing communities affected by floods on top of fires and recent climate extremes,” said NSWIC CEO, Claire Miller.
“We were hearing from many farmers feeling anxious as deadlines loomed, who wanted to do the right thing, but need to prioritise their health, safety and disaster recovery effort.”
“For farmers with homes, livestock, pumps and produce washed away by floods, having to replace existing water meters with a new, expensive models right now would’ve rubbed salt in a very raw wound.”
NSW’s non-urban water metering policy requires farmers to upgrade meters to comply with the AS4747 standard, the highest in the world; the new meters must be installed by a duly qualified person, with tamper-proofing to ensure security.
The original 1 December 2022 deadline for the southern Murray-Darling Basin valleys has been extended by six months to 1 June 2023, while the 1 December 2023 deadline for coastal NSW has been extended 12 months to 1 December 2024.
“To be clear, irrigators already have meters as is required by law– this policy is about upgrading to comply with a new standard,” Ms Miller said.
The announcement does not change the deadlines for the state’s largest irrigators, or irrigators in the northern Basin valleys, where the new requirements are already in place.
“The Minister has listened to farmers in the Lismore area, led by the Richmond-Wilsons Combined Water Users Association whose members are rebuilding after devastating flooding earlier this year,” Ms Miller said.
“Whilst the timeframes are being extended on the coast and in southern Basin valleys, we do encourage water users to get started as soon as they are able, given the range of complications and unexpected delays experienced by irrigators in other regions.
“The irrigation sector takes metering and compliance very seriously. Only the most exceptional of circumstances – as we are now seeing –warrants our support for extensions.”