The National Irrigators’ Council (NIC) has today acknowledged the release of the first MurrayDarling Basin Authority Sustainable Diversion Limits Compliance Report.

NIC Chief Executive Officer Isaac Jeffrey said: “Water is one of the most regulated areas in Australia. Today’s report showing a ninety-seven percent compliance level demonstrates the commitment our farmers have to complying with these high standards.

“Farmers have invested millions in metering and measuring every drop of water, and on legal advice to ensure they are doing the right thing in the eyes of the law – which is often not an easy task given the ever-changing quagmire of rules and compliance mechanisms and different standards required from each level of government, even across different regions of the same state.

“Such a high compliance level is something which should be acknowledged and celebrated.

“Unfortunately, while our farmers have invested time and money in getting their systems right, our governments have failed to step up and ensure their modelling and reporting accurately reflects what is happening in the real world.

“The New South Wales Government’s flawed modelling has led to some regions being listed as non-compliant, but what is important to note, is that there was no evidence of any individual or group in these regions taking more water than they were entitled to. This is a failing of the New South Wales Government’s processes, not any wrongdoing of irrigators.

“It is a pity New South Wales has dropped the ball here, because Australian growers are compliant and are doing the right thing, and the state’s management of these regions needs to be updated as a matter of urgency to reflect what is really happening on the ground.

“This modelling is yet another example of how regulation demands different outputs and different standards for different players. Farmers must account for every drop of water through metering and accurate records management, while government agencies, including the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder, are only accountable to desktop modelling and broad predictions which do not reflect on-ground reality.

“It is time for other water users and governments to be held to the same high standards as irrigated agriculture, including metering extracted water for environmental use and, if modelling is used, to ensure it is viewed and questioned with scholarly rigor, and with an eye on reality.

“NIC demands strong compliance mechanisms to ensure the high standards are achieved, however it is fundamental that these mechanisms be grounded in reality, not stretchy modelling or crystal ball predictions.”

Ends. Media Contact: Isaac Jeffrey 0407 083 890