19th April 2007The Prime Minister’s release today of emergency water recommendations for the Murray Darling, with a likely zero water allocation for irrigation, in order to secure urban supplies if there is no heavy rain, would have little effect on Queensland, according to Queensland Farmers’ Federation, chief executive officer, John Cherry.
“We are pretty much already there,” he said.
“Queensland’s drought management strategies clearly prioritise urban water supplies over rural supplies and as our dams have emptied, allocations have been cut back accordingly,” he said.
“In south-east Queensland this year, irrigators in the Logan, Warrill and Lockyer valleys received a zero water allocation to secure urban supplies.
“In the Murray Darling basin, the Upper Condamine allocations were cut to less than 10pc this year to secure water supplies for Warwick, and the St George. Irrigation allocations were cut to a token 2.6pc.
“The Macintyre Brook and Border Rivers schemes performed better in 2006-07, but, with storages down to around 20pc or less, they face severe cuts in allocations next year to secure urban supplies for Goondiwindi and other towns along the border.
“Not surprisingly, there has been a sharp downturn in crop production at the Qld end of the Murray Darling basin.
Cotton plantings are down around 75pc on a normal year and grains are down around 50pc.
“Without rain, rural industries across southern Qld are entering the seventh year of severe drought and a worsening economic crisis.
“The Federal Government is already making a very significant contribution to drought financial assistance.
“But if this drought deepens, then the economic pressure on rural communities will also increase and Governments will need to be ready and willing to help.”
SOURCE: Queensland Country Life weekly rural news service, updated daily by FarmOnline.