Dry times making Darling friendships harder
It seems agricultural water-sharing arrangements are easier when supplies are plentiful, but extended dry times is putting some strain on the Murray-Darling plan.
While the sale of excess water licences under the Murray Darling plan have been a godsend for some farmers’ finances, now that droughts are draining supplies many say too much water was let go.
The calls come just days after the Bureau of Meteorology downgraded its prediction for an El Nino weather pattern forming this year, dropping down from 70 per cent to 50 per cent.
There is still a reasonable chance that the weather patterns, which usually bring much drier weather, will still form in spring.
Parts of the Macquarie Marshes, which cover almost 200,000 hectares in north-west NSW, are reportedly dying off due to the high demands on the river.
Further down the Murray Darling system, the Menindee Lakes sit at around 20 per cent capacity.
Local farmers say large releases of water from the lakes earlier this year, which flowed down to South Australia, greatly reduced the level of the Darling River in NSW.
They say releases should be smaller and better regulated in future.
Many irrigators around the South Australia and New South Wales borders said they had taken advantage of government water buybacks to make ends meet, but now face dry times and low finances stoping them buying more supply.
The Murray Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) says it understands that the water-sharing arrangements can cause strain and conflict amongst neighbours, but says the new system is greatly preferred to the water wars of years past.