Farmers not keen to fund broken meter repairs

FARMERS have been left fuming after the State Government said it would recoup costs to upgrade broken irrigation water meters across the Central Lockyer catchment.

With 54 per cent of meters labelled "not working", Seqwater said it would provide $2.5 million to fix the meters, which would be recouped from irrigators.

Lockyer MP Jim McDonald said he, along with the irrigators, did not accept the proposal, and called upon the State Government to provide the money as a grant.

Last month, the Federal Government announced it would provide $2.5m from the Community Development Grant Program towards the $5m project to fix broken meters.

"The State Government should follow the lead of the Federal Government and provide the $2.5m as a grant," Mr McDonald said.

He said irrigators were paying Seqwater for water and the payment included management of the scheme as well as maintenance and repairs for meters.

"The broken meters are Seqwater's problem, not the irrigators who have already paid for them once," he said.

At present, the Lockyer Water Users Forum is in negotiations with the State Government to have the money granted to the irrigators. President Paul Emmerson said the decision to develop a water management plan had come from the State Government.

"Our working with the government to develop their plan should be at their costs, not a cost to the users," he said.

"As there is no benefit on the current system where irrigators have been paying for a significantly under-performing system for many years already, we don't see they should have to pay any more."

Mr Emmerson said the project would replace old water meters with new telemetry that would in-turn save the government money.

"Not only will the information be more timely and useful, but it will cost significantly less to analyse, and maintain," he said.

Minister for Natural Resources, Energy and Mines Anthony Lynham said he would continue to work co-operatively with farmers.

"As I have said, recouping costs from the user is the norm," he said.

"But the cost recovery associated with Seqwater's contribution to support new meters and telemetry for the Central Lockyer is yet to be determined."

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