Councillor raises concern with water change

Peel River
Peel River

STORING water is like cash in a bank, to paraphrase our federal MP, Barnaby Joyce.

For years, it seemed like business for bulk water users in the Peel Valley was drying up.

Struggling to stay afloat, the local irrigation industry argued vigorously against the skewed prices they paid in comparison to other valleys in NSW.

It appeared all avenues had been drained for the Peel Valley water users when they implored Tamworth Regional Council to endorse a move towards a 80:20 split for licence and usage fees.

Knocked back and seemingly down and out, irrigators said it could spell the end of the industry in the Peel Valley if they had to keep paying close to $60 a megalitre.

After years of trying and arguing, this week, there was a breakthrough: a reprieve, a drought-breaker.

The ratepayers’ association is even calling it a miracle.

The association said it was ecstatic for the water users in the outcome.

It’s not quite divine intervention, but it is a very welcome heaven-sent game-changer for the irrigation industry.

Now, Tamworth councillor Mark Rodda has raised an intriguing point about where the cost shifts to, with the changes handed down by the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART).

He said the move towards the 80:20 ratio means council would pay a higher licence fee, placing a burden on the city’s ratepayers.

“Ultimately, it could be good for the ratepayers, if they use more water,” he posed.

“But, if we say it’s a free-for-all, that flies in the face of our work over the last decade trying to control flippant water-use.”

Water is evidently a complicated business, but it’s a valid point Cr Rodda raises about responsible usage in our area.

Chaffey Dam defiantly climbed to its unprecedented capacity last year to the hubris of the region.

While the bank may be brimming with it’s liquid gold now, it’s easy to forget how low it was not that long ago.

Council has put a lot of effort and resources into making the region more sustainable with its water use in recent years.

From rolling out education programs, water saving rebates and restrictions, it has been a priority closely watched for many years.

While it’s a prosperous time, the time is always right to be sensible with water usage.