Region’s survival threatened

By Country News

Water is something so basic and fundamental, almost like breathing, that we don’t give it another thought until it’s restricted to the point that it puts your survival into doubt.

We have placed our governments in charge of administering this precious resource and therefore they should be held accountable when the system they put into place no longer works, or unfairly benefits only a few.

There has been much speculation in the media about who owns water — the community/towns, large corporations, investment companies, the environment, overseas interests or farmers.

All of these groups have vastly different agendas, but only three have any real uses for water: towns, the environment and the farmers who produce our food and fibre.

And you would think that since we are all using the same resource we would be using the same rules, but this is not so.

In particular, Victorian water rules give the environment and investors an unfair advantage by allowing them to hold on to water and manipulate the cost to the detriment of agriculture and communities.

Speculators pay $4/Ml less for storage fees and pay no infrastructure or maintenance cost of the channels and irrigation system, unlike our farmers who are the ones who actually produce the food and fibre.

The pathetic lack of action from our farm lobby groups that allowed these rules and regulations to be changed to suit off-farm unscrupulous investors needs to be challenged for the survival of our farmers and communities.

The Water Register, in its present state, makes it impossible to ascertain who is trading water, at what cost, where the water is coming from or where it’s going to in any timely fashion.

Like other commodities, water should be able to be traced from its origin to its end use with ease, so that it gives all its users confidence in the system.

But it has become so convoluted and volatile that the cost of water has escalated to exceptional highs and availability has made farming unpredictable and unsustainable.

Regulations have been in place for years that food produced can be traced, from paddock to plate.

Transparency is not that hard.

The Murray-Darling Basin Plan was introduced to ensure a fair distribution of water between the community, the environment, and agriculture with as little negative impact on communities as possible.

However, they have consistently ignored official reviews, the pleas of various water interest groups and concerned individuals that have clearly demonstrated that there are businesses and communities at breaking point.

Even media programs like Four Corners, The Project and Landline have exposed the corruption, waste and mismanagement of this precious resource — and yet there has been no action taken.

The question has to be asked: why and how are they allowed to continue in this manner?

■Northern Victorian Irrigation Communities will meet on Friday, July 12 at 7pm at Waaia Football/Netball Club rooms. To contact the group, email: [email protected]

—Anita Seiter

NVIC secretary