Broken River entitlements questioned

By Simon Ruppert

Irrigators across Benalla and the Victoria's north-east are calling for a review of water entitlements on the Broken River system.

Member for Euroa, and Shadow Water Minister, Steph Ryan has backed the calls for a review.

In parliament last week Ms Ryan called on the water minister to visit Broken system irrigators, hear their concerns first-hand and order a system review.

“Broken river irrigators have suffered poor reliability and low allocations since Labor decommissioned Lake Mokoan,” Ms Ryan said.

“The reconfiguration of the Broken irrigation system following the decommissioning has not seen the Victorian Government honour its commitments to maintain security of supply to the irrigators of the Broken.”

Lake Mokoan and Lake Nillahcootie were commissioned for Broken River water storage in the early 1960s.

Under pressure from the Victorian and federal governments to deliver the water savings recommended in the 2006 Living Murray Initiatives, Lake Mokoan was removed.

Plenty of people in Benalla protested against the decommissioning of Lake Mokoan.

``Broken irrigators feel the system is now an opportunist irrigation system of annual supply, whereas in the past there were always two years of stored supply as per the Goulburn and Murray systems,” Ms Ryan said. 

“Lake Nillahcootie, as the only storage left on the system, does not capture water from significant tributaries like the Holland’s Creek, and does not have enough capacity to hold sustainable amounts of water to meet the commitments of the Broken system.

"Goulburn-Murray Water recently provided irrigators with a season update highlighting potential supply issues moving forward, despite good flows from streams below Nillahcootie.

Lake Mokoan in 2006 prior to being decommissioned.

“Broken river irrigators are serviced by a failing system of compromised security that has lost much of its reliability, even though there is high unregulated water flowing into the system below the storage.

“Irrigation entitlement is only 17Gl in a system that has significant flows, but they are unable to access this for their entitlements because of storage changes post-Lake Mokoan.

“The government should review and reassess the Broken system to investigate opportunities for the future environmental and economic sustainability of irrigated agriculture in the system,” Ms Ryan said.