Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce says irrigators are not to blame for the water crisis facing Broken Hill and the lower Darling River.

Many Broken Hill residents and activists blame cotton growers north of Wilcannia for depriving them of water, saying their approvals give them access to too much.

Mr Joyce visited far west New South Wales on Wednesday after his RAAF plane was diverted due to poor weather.

He said drought, not cotton irrigation upstream, was to blame for the lack of water downstream.

“The water that comes down is by reason of a water event, by reason of rain, by reason of floods,” he said.

“We've had a drought, a bad drought, and there's no water.

“The water that's had to go from here is overwhelmingly to fulfil the requirements of South Australia.”

Local Labor candidate Kate Stewart said different groups had to work together to work out how best to manage the Murray-Darling system.

“We need someone with a voice that's actually going to stand up and go, dudes, no, actually, we really need to do something about this and maybe we need to collaborate on it — that evil word, collaborate,” Ms Stewart said.

“Maybe we need to collaborate on a solution, but we need a solution.

“Queensland not being a party to the MDBA [Murray-Darling Basin Authority] is a massive problem.”