Community digs deep to aid water allocations battle
WITH what some have described as one of the biggest challenges the Lockyer Valley has ever faced looming before them, the community dipped their hands into their pockets to fund a crucial intervention.
A crowded room of close to 250 people - made up of farmers, irrigators, political leaders and business owners - attended an open meeting last week to learn more about the proposed changes to the groundwater allocations in the Central Lockyer.
The changes will include the introduction of a fixed charge for the Central Lockyer Water Supply Schemes for the first time alongside the existing volumetric cost.
This could mean farmers pay huge amounts for water irrigation charges, even if they are unable to access water, all so the State Government can recover costs on its underperforming local dams.
The organisers of the meeting aimed to collect $60,000 in order to hire the services of strategic management consultancy firm Badu Advisory to help in their battle to counter the potentially huge ramifications for the valley's economy.
That target has been shattered, with more than $70,000 already raised.
Badu Advisory will examine the performance of Lake Clarendon Dam, Bill Gunn Dam and the Morton Vale Pipeline since their construction and review how they compare against other water assets in Queensland.
A written report will be prepared to evaluate Badu Advisory's findings and offer alternatives to the current process being undertaken by the Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy.
Lockyer Water Users Forum chairman Paul Emmerson said the barriers the department hoped to put up would cripple farmers as production would drop dramatically.
"We've been promised to be given the scientific data that the department has to justify why the allocations are of a benefit to us,” he said.
"Our view is there is no scientific data to support what they're proposing.
"The department needs to get out of our road and let us get on with what we do best.”
Lockyer MP Jim McDonald urged Queensland Minister for Natural Resources, Mines and Energy Anthony Lynham to intervene in the situation.
The local member brought a coffin to the meeting to symbolise the "death knell” of agriculture jobs in the valley.
"This is serious. There hasn't been anything more serious,” Mr McDonald said.
"We need (Dr Lynham's) intervention to produce a good outcome and make sure that this consultation is real and that those numbers change for the positive.
"The reality of these entitlements based on flawed data is that some farmers are not going to be able to grow one crop, let alone the two crops per year they need minimum to survive.”