Draft Water Policy

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Draft Irrigation Water Policy


The Riverina State Group appreciates that food and clothing are essential for human life.

The establishment of farming over millennia, and the continual improvement and increase in agricultural production, has improved man’s lifestyle from one that was nomadic, unpredictable, and often subject to hunger and starvation, to a lifestyle increasingly abundant in food, clothing, health, population, prosperity, and happiness.

Using water from rivers as irrigation to assist farming has increased production of food and fibre by factors of at least ten times and has even enabled abundant production of these where there was otherwise none.

Australia is the driest inhabited continent in the world, with an irregular rainfall that sometimes desolates the countryside in drought, while at other times inundating the same countryside in ruinous flood.

Creeks and rivers are the natural channels that drain water from the land on which it fell as rain, back to the ocean from which it was originally evaporated. During drought these creeks and long distances of rivers are naturally empty and dry, while during prolonged wet periods they are full and sometimes in flood.

The rivers, lakes and constructed dams, regulators, levees, and channels in the Murray Darling Catchment have been created by nature and the ingenuity of generations of Australians. These have been used to manage rainfall and create permanent and placid stores of water where previously and naturally there was neither. Now in times of drought there is still water, and in times of flood there is a prevention of devastation.

Irrigation in the Murray Darling Catchment has enabled the production of great quantities of food and fibre that has contributed greatly to the alleviation of hunger and poverty throughout the world, and has further helped to ensure the health and prosperity of more people than ever in history. This production has brought great wealth and fulfillment to farmers, while at the same time bringing these same benefits to the many more people that assist in this production.

The flora and fauna that would naturally disperse or die in time of drought or flood now instead flourish in time of both.

This is all self-evidently good.

The Riverina State Group will ensure that the production of food and fibre, and its attendant health, prosperity, and happiness only increases. Due to irrigation’s manifold enhancement of this production, this Group will also ensure that the use of water in farming also only increases.



 The Riverina State Group:

1) Recognizes the benefit and necessity of water to all people in the Murray Darling Catchment.

2) Recognizes the necessity of distributing this water equitably.

3) Appreciates Section 100 of the Australian Constitution (Nor abridge right to use water).

4) Considers water within the area of The Riverina State to be the property of The Riverina State, while delegating and guaranteeing private entitlements, and honouring State and Commonwealth agreements.

5) Recognizes the authority of The Riverina State to form, and alter, agreements between the States and the Commonwealth.


Recognizing the many potential benefits in stored water, the Riverina State Group also recognizes the need to entitle and prioritize the use of this water.

To ensure first the survival and then the flourishing of the people and concomitant flora and fauna, the Riverina State Group prioritizes the annual use of water in various State and natural infrastructure i.e. dams, rivers and lakes in the Murray Darling catchment, in the following order:

1) Personal home, garden, and farm livestock.

2) Town and country business, and local shire.

3) South Australia’s current entitlement of 1,272 gigalitres (plus 578 GL irrigation licence) p.a.

4) Irrigation farming and concomitant native flora and fauna.

5) The flourishing of flora and fauna, including in this account the widespread flourishing that occurs via the water in the existing infrastructure and in the water used in the other priorities.

Water excess to entitlements will be available to all entitled parties.

Note: a gigalitre is one billion litres, weighing one billion kilograms/one million tonnes, and has a volume of 100 metres cubed.

Immediate action

The sale or provision of any additional water to the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder shall cease. This includes, though not limited to, purchases known as Bridging the Gap (~49 GL), Water Savings Projects (~350 GL), Upwater 450 GL (~450 GL).

Increased Water Availability

To compensate the people in the various irrigation areas for water purchased and removed from local wealth creation by the Federal Government, these irrigation areas will have their annual entitlement license increased by approximately 20% to as follows (these include the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder’s entitlements):


Murray Irrigation                  1,514 GL

Murrumbidgee Irrigation     1,412 GL

Coleambally Irrigation:         342 GL

Hay                                         318 GL

Western Murray Irrigation  96 GL

Wentworth                            40 GL


Goulburn Murray Irrigation District           2,115 GL

Lower Murray Water                                       398 GL

            South Australia

Riverland                               368 GL

Mid S.A. Water                       98 GL

Lower S.A. Water                   68 GL

Lower Lakes                          44 GL

Licences for irrigation areas inadvertently not listed will be increased similarly.

Plus additional water when it arises.

The State delegated irrigation area authorities listed above will decide the equal water allocation rate within its area.

Water entitlements shall be a permanent quantity in each irrigation area e.g. Murray Irrigation, and in constituent sub-irrigation areas e.g. Wakool in Murray Irrigation. 

Water Exchange


1) Ensure that the people in all areas of the Murray Darling Catchment benefit from the bounty of irrigation, and to consequently ensure the continuing public support of irrigation farming.

2) Prevent the concentration of irrigation water into a smaller area with the consequent diminishing of public benefit and support, and to further prevent the consequent endangering of irrigation farming’s very continuance.

3) Enable the transfer of water to counter natural disasters, and to provide for more beneficial use in other areas.

a) Within the same irrigation and sub-irrigation area

Entitlement holders may permanently exchange any quantity of their entitlement within their sub-irrigation area e.g. Wakool in Murray Irrigation. Entitlements may not be permanently exchanged out of an irrigation or sub-irrigation area.

Entitlement holders may temporarily exchange any quantity of their allocation throughout their irrigation area, subject to each sub-irrigation area e.g. Wakool in Murray Irrigation, retaining the nett equivalent of a minimum of 75% of allocation each financial year, and exchanging a nett equivalent maximum of 25% to other sub-irrigation areas.

b) Among different irrigation areas

Entitlement holders may temporarily exchange any quantity of their allocation among different irrigation areas, subject to each irrigation area retaining the nett equivalent of a minimum of 90% of its allocated water within its area every financial year, while being able to temporarily exchange the nett equivalent of a maximum of 10% to other areas.

Any dispute with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission will be resolved without relinquishing any article(s).

Carry-Over Water

Annually allocated water may be carried over by entitlement holders from one financial year to the next in State infrastructure. This water shall not diminish the quantity of water available to entitlement holders from next financial year inflows.

To ensure that water is used in the production of wealth rather than hoarded, carry-over water shall be limited to no more than 25% of the individual’s annual entitlement. This limit shall not include or prevent the purchase of other entitlement holders’ carry-over water.

Carry-over water shall exist while its storage does not diminish new financial year inflows and allocations. If entitlement and carry-over water accounts for more than dam storage capacity, any overflow (spill), or if water is released to prevent overflowing (pre-spill release), this overflow will be accounted as carry-over water and removed proportionally from each entitlement holder’s carry-over account until the annually entitled water quantities are fulfilled.

Lakes Alexandrina and Albert, the Coorong, and the Murray Mouth.

The Riverina State Group recognizes:

1) the historical record of Charles Sturt’s 1829 journal of discovery recording the saline and undrinkable quality of water, and the presence of seals (marine mammals), in Lake Alexandrina.

2) Pr. Peter Gell’s (Federation University, Ballarat) study of sediments in Lake Alexandrina identifying their pre-historic marine quality.

3) the pre 1939 (before construction of barrages) historical record of the Mulloway/Butterfish, (a marine fish) fishing industry within Lake Alexandrina.

4) the record of sharks (marine fish) being caught at Morgan, far upstream in the Murray River from Lake Alexandra.

5) that when the outlet of Lake Alexandrina into the ocean (often referred to as the Murray Mouth) is open, there is naturally sea water flow into Lake Alexandrina, especially when the Lake level is relatively low during diminished Murray River in-flow, and high tide.

6) the barrages preventing both flow of freshwater out to sea, and flow of seawater into Lake Alexandrina.

7) the estuarine quality of all other rivers throughout the world as they interchange with the sea.

And consequently, recognizes that Lakes Alexandrina and Albert are naturally of varying estuarine (marine and freshwater) quality and recognizes that these Lakes are currently being maintained in an unnatural permanent freshwater quality.


8) the natural water supply of the Coorong are the swamps to its north and east, and the previously manufactured redirection of drainage (known as the South-Eastern and South-Western Drainage Systems) of these swamps away from the Coorong to form arable land has removed this natural supply.

9) the historical and natural flow of water in the Coorong is from the south-east toward the north-west, and into Lake Alexandrina, and that due to this and the Coorong’s dead-end nature, there is minimal water flow from Lake Alexandrina into the Coorong.

10) the Coorong is becoming increasingly saline due to a) its loss of natural swamp water inflow, b) the gradual intrusion of sea water through the nearby Murray Mouth, c) evaporation of the existing pool of water leaving a more concentrated salt content.

11) that the water flow and salinity of the Coorong is only minimally affected by Lake Alexandrina.

12) the barrages prevent flow of water from Lake Alexandrina from approaching the Coorong.

And consequently, recognizes that the Coorong is only minimally affected by Murray River water being flowed into Lake Alexandrina.


13) the historical record of Charles Sturt’s 1829 journal recording Lake Alexandrina being closed to the sea by sand shoals.

14) the action of Southern Ocean continually depositing sand at the Murray Mouth and naturally closing it.

15) that all oceans throughout the world deposit sand along coastlines, constructing sand bars of varying quantity at the mouths of all rivers, and closing entirely those rivers with insufficient flow to carry this sand away.

16) that large quantities of water are regularly released from Lake Alexandra (originally supplied by the Murray River) to remove ocean sand deposits blocking the Murray Mouth.

17) the regular mechanical dredging away of sand from the Murray Mouth.

And consequently, recognizes that the Murray Mouth is naturally only occasionally open to the sea and does not naturally have a permanent or regular stream of water flowing through it.


18) that approximately 1,000 GL p.a.is evaporated from Lakes Alexandrina and Albert, which is currently replaced by fresh water from the Murray River.

19) that a very large quantity of fresh water is used maintaining Lakes Alexandrina and Albert at an unnatural permanent freshwater level and quality.

And consequent to the above listed points, The Riverina State Group recognizes that the natural qualities of Lakes Alexandrina and Albert, the Coorong, and the Murray River Mouth can, should and will be maintained much more efficiently by methods other than flowing large quantities of freshwater (and consequently removing great wealth creation and many jobs) from the Murray Darling River Catchment.

Liaison with South Australia

The Group will liaison with people and organizations in the irrigation areas of South Australia, with the objective of establishing professional irrigation relationships beneficial to all parties.

Recognizing the often hostile attitude of the South Australian urban media, and consequent hostile political and public attitude, toward management of Lakes Alexandrina and Albert, the Coorong and the Murray Mouth; the Group will liaison with various South Australian authorities to ensure that the natural characteristics of these landmarks are maintained satisfactorily, while ensuring the flourishing of food and fibre production, and the flourishing of native flora and fauna, throughout the catchment.

Possible South Australian management projects include:

1) an extended permanent concrete channel at the Murray Mouth, elevated above the descending sea bed on the ocean side, to prevent the deposit of sand by the ocean, and to consequently ensure the Murray Mouth is permanently open to the sea.

2) the use of the barrages to maintain water depth in Lake Alexandrina at approximately sea level, but not to prevent the natural flow of sea water.

3) the construction of another lock or other regulator in the Murray River upstream of Lake Alexandrina to regulate fresh-water flow into lake Alexandrina, while preventing estuarine water entry into the Murray River.

4) the construction of fresh-water delivery infrastructure to farmers at the perimeter of Lake Alexandrina.

5) the redirection of previously constructed swamp water diversion systems back into the Coorong to renew its natural flow and water quality.

Additional Water Supply

The Riverina State group appreciates the possible increase in water availability by the redirection of water from other catchments into the various irrigation areas. The Group supports the investigation, and possible construction, of redirection schemes such as those known as The Clarence River Diversion and The Bradfield Scheme.

 Additional infrastructure

The Riverina State Group supports the investigation of further beneficial storage and channel infrastructure, and possible construction of these.

 Additional Irrigation Areas

The Riverina State Group supports the creation of additional irrigation areas. These areas shall not diminish the characteristics of any existing irrigation area.

 Policy subject to improvement.

This policy will be improved as opportunities to enhance the flourishing of the people in The Riverina arise.


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