Tag Archives: irrigators

cultural shift needed

How damaging is the cultural perception that Australian farmers can ride through any storm? That is the question being posed by Riverland winegrape and citrus grower Sheridan Alm.

Sheridan has called for a cultural shift to recognise irrigators who are chosing to walk off the land during this irrigation drought.

“It would be best to acknowledge that growers who decide to sell their water are making a very noble decision to exit the industry right now, it should not be seen that you’ve failed and are copping out,” she said.

“The irrigators that decide to exit would be doing their neighbours and the river such a huge favour and they should be on the front page of the newspaper.”

Sheridan has said that irrigators, who can currently access just 2% of their Murray River allocation, need to decide now if they are going to ride out another season and has advised growers to talk to their neighbours and bank managers about their future.

She has also encouraged growers to develop a flexible water budget now, so that they can concentrate fully on just growing their fruit during the season.

Sheridan will offer practical advice to winegrape growers at Some Like It Hot – the wine industry’s premier wine conference for warm climate regions, to be held at the Chaffey Theatre in Renmark on November 6.

Registrations for Some Like It Hot will open next week.


colorado river report

The BBC’s Matthew Price is currently travelling along the Colorado River and reporting on its health and the views of the people who live near it. The first two diary entries can be found here.

The river has been in drought for eight years and, as mentioned in the report I posted yesterday, is hopelessly overallocated. It is only because the states are not using their full allocations that the river is still running to Mexico, just.

Nevada’s attempts to save water are admirable – the Southern Nevada Water Authority seems to realise that people living in a desert just cannot enjoy a lush green lawn etc. They even pass on the message with a bit of humour. It begs the question – why hasn’t the South Australian Government imposed stricter domestic watering restrictions?

The news no one wanted to hear

The Murray Darling Basin Commission announced yesterday that the drought is getting worse. MDBC chief executive Wendy Craik said the news was “disappointing” and that the likelihood of upper Murray inflow being above average for the remainder of winter and spring is very low.

Dr Craik said the water level in the lower lakes has been temporarily stablised but highlighted that low inflows over the next 12 months would be devastating for the area.

Lower Lakes

Lower Lakes – A snapshot

The above PDF was compiled by JMS for South Australian Murray Irrigators in February/March and distributed, via email, around the country.

It tells the story of those irrigators around the lower lakes that are struggling every day to keep their farms, and their hopes, alive.

Forgotten people

A SAMI media release….


June 26, 2008


Producers urged to make informed decisions early


South Australian river communities are being left to fend for themselves and should make plans that do not rely on government intervention.

That is the message from the leader of the State’s peak irrigation body, the South Australian Murray Irrigators.

SAMI chairman Tim Whetstone delivered the message today as his members are about to enter the new irrigation season on Sunday with a two percent allocation.

“Are we any better off than those tribes that were found deep in the Amazonian jungle the other day. We’ve become the forgotten people of this State.

“We have devoted countless hours to meetings, workshops, seminars and travelling across the nation to talk to State and Federal politicians and it is our belief that Govenments are not going to be our saviour.

“Business people in our river communities need to acknowledge that and collect as much meaningful data as possible and act on it.

“Producers need to make plans early and save what water they can.”

Mr Whetstone said irrigators needed access to regular and independent information on the projections of water available within the Murray Darling Basin to make such decisions.

He hopes the State Government to honour a recent undertaking to establish a new website that will give irrigators direct access to consistently updated water projections for SA.

“This type of information is already provided to NSW irrigators, so we expect the same service,” he said.

“We don’t want a repeat of last year where we are hanging on Ministerial announcements about allocations. They almost always sparked a dramatic increase in water prices.”

Mr Whetstone said a lot irrigators had been forced to buy water last December when prices jumped to well over $1000 megalitre after the Government announced that irrigation allocations would not go above 16%. A few weeks later allocations had increased to 32% and water prices dropped.

Mr Whetstone said SAMI will continue to represent the communities it ultimately represents and provide innovative solutions to Government Ministers. Mr Whetstone will introduce guest speaker Wentworth Group member and Adelaide University water economist Professor Mike Young at the Riverland Rural Expo at the Renmark Hotel tomorrow.