Water users push back against mandatory meters

One irrigator at Tent Hill faces a cost for new meters amounting to $170,000.

Lockyer irrigators are prepared to push back against the state government’s ‘one size fits all’ approach to water management.

The Lockyer Water Users Forum (LWUF) met with irrigators for the fourth time on 19 March to present their draft submission plan in response to the proposed new Moreton water plan.

The submission challenges the government’s plan to progressively implement volumetric entitlements to all water plans in Queensland, especially as it is the irrigators who will need to foot the bill.

LWUF CEO Gordon Van der Est said more work needs to be done with the Department of Regional Development, Manufacturing and Water to find a better solution.

“We acknowledge it’s going to go through on surface water,” Mr Van der Est said.

“But there’s a lot more work and discussion to be had on overland flow and on blanket groundwater metering across the whole of the Lockyer and Somerset.”

Mr Van der Est said the cost to implement meters was unfeasible and unrealistic for many irrigators.

For example, it will cost one irrigator at Tenthill $170,000 to install meters over several bores on his property.

“That’s the magnitude of the money we’re talking,” Mr Van der Est said.

“Show us the benefit, prove there’s a risk, show us the science, and show us the data.

“Prove to us that we need to go this path and we will potentially accept it.

“But, at your cost.”

Mr Van der Est also pointed out the Federal Government is funding the Queensland Government Murray Darling metering and telemetry costs to the tune of more than $10 million, but local irrigators will have to fork out the funds themselves.

Lockyer irrigators have been self-managing water since 1921, Mr Van der Est said, and have done it responsibly.

“Irrigators know there is no point planting a crop if you cannot take it

through to harvest, so they don’t over-extract the groundwater aquifers, they manage them,” he said.

“This is exactly what the Central Lockyer went through for the last 30 years and now all the data’s in,” Mr Van der Est said.

“We’re not water pirates. The underground aquifers do recharge, so all of the

premise that underwrote the original plan for the last 30 years has now been proven to be unnecessary.

“Regulation just for the sake of regulation has no benefit, it is unproductive, and just adds another unnecessary cost.”