A feasibility study considering options to address issues with the Barmah Choke has been announced by the Federal Government and welcomed by the National Irrigators’ Council says Chief Executive Officer Isaac Jeffrey.

“The Murray-Darling Basin is a connected and complex system which stores and moves water throughout the Eastern States. The water goes to local communities for recreation, culture and to drink, to the environment for wetlands and to support our flora and fauna, and to businesses to create products, including irrigators to grow our food and fibre,” Mr Jeffrey said.

“Water management is a complex task made more challenging thanks to a physical system which is constrained by geographical spread, storage capacity, and the size and ability of our waterways to handle water movements.

“The Barmah Choke is the biggest natural constraint in the River Murray and a major factor contributing to the difficulty of river management. Recent reports of sand further limiting the Choke’s capacity are exacerbating this constraint.

“The Choke, which runs through the Barmah-Millewa Forest, restricts water flow to 7,000 megalitres per day and is placed under heavy burdens during peak periods to deliver water for communities, the environment and for businesses, including irrigators.

“Constraints issues cause headaches for water users up and down stream, while running the river at capacity is taking its toll on the banks of the river.

“Deliverability and shortfall risks are live issues for all water users, especially those who have invested in planting crops to produce our food and fibre who need to access timely water to ensure the health and yields of their produce. These are also important issues for environmental water users who need to ensure the health of our rivers, wetlands and wildlife, and for communities who need drinking water and domestic supplies.

“NIC has been strongly advocating for measures to address these issues and we are pleased to see the Government taking action. The Federal Government has announced a $3 million feasibility study to explore options to address the problems at the Tocumwal, Edward and Barmah Chokes.

“The National Irrigators’ Council welcomes this announcement and looks forward to working with the Government to develop solutions, including the potential to work with irrigation operators in the region to deliver results using existing systems.

“More broadly, the NIC calls for Basin Governments and the Murray-Darling Basin Authority to progress work on constraints throughout the system and to invest in complementary measures which help improve the river system as a matter of urgency.

“Deliverability issues are only going to be exacerbated as we face a hotter and drier climate with fewer inflows into the future. All water users need to work together and collaborate to ensure we address these issues and share the benefits and challenges of the system.”

Ends. Media Contact: Isaac Jeffrey 0407 083 890 ceo@irrigators.org.au