The Western Australian Government’s push to cut the water allocation for the first stage of the Kimberley’s Ord Irrigation Scheme will be fought in the State Administrative Tribunal this week.
The WA Department of Water has moved to reduce the current water licence for Ord farmers from 335 gigalitres a year to around 225 gigalitres, claiming the water is not currently being used.
Ord Irrigation Cooperative (OIC) chairman David Menzel said the cuts threatened the region’s water security.
“It’s a shame it’s come to this,” he said.
“It’s consumed so much time and money over the last 12 months. And the problem is we’re arguing against the State, who have unlimited resources.
The new 10-year licence being pushed by the WA Government means that Ord farmers would be required to apply for a new licence or a licence amendment for water. The government claims growers could apply for extra water if needed.
However, Mr Menzel said it was a deal that could hurt the Ord’s future and does nothing to help the confidence of growers or investors.
“The state wants us to agree to reduce it [water allocation] now and then we can apply for more water when we need it,” he said.
“Land here is worth nothing without water, and we believe the licensed amount, which was agreed to about 20 years ago, that amount gives the landowner the capacity to grow whatever they like pretty much.