THE maligned 6250 megalitre environmental water release from Chaffey Dam has been doused, following concerns raised by the region’s irrigation industry.
Member for New England Barnaby Joyce announced the proposed release had been reduced to, at least, 3870 megalitres and had petitioned Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg to wipe the full Commonwealth allocation of 1250 megalitres.
The water release made a splash earlier this week when irrigators said the proposal equated to a year’s worth of water and would hurt the industry locally.
Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson shifted responsibility of the release to the federal government.
“While the Commonwealth has made this decision, as the local MP it is important that local water needs are not put at risk because of any release from Chaffey,” Mr Anderson said on Monday.
“I urge concerned irrigators to contact their local federal MP to highlight their anxieties over the proposed Commonwealth water release.”
The federal MP shot this claim down and said the majority of the initially proposed release volume resided with the state.
“The Commonwealth section of that is 1250, the remainder is the state,” Mr Joyce said.
“The Commonwealth environmental water holder is the smaller fraction of the environmental flows.
“We must remember that the larger section actually resides with the state government.”
Mr Joyce, a former federal water minster, the situation could have been a much bigger issue.
“If we didn’t have the greater storage capacity that we got in Chaffey, this would be more of a concern,” he said.
“I need it to be reviewed and I’ve said quite clearly the drought we are in at the moment, we are lucky we’ve got water stored in Chaffey Dam.”
NEW England MP Barnaby Joyce has played down the environment benefit of releasing thousands of megalitres from Chaffey Dam downstream.
Mr Joyce said there was already flow in the Peel River and called for the federal government forego its environmental release from Chaffey.
“When we release more water, we’re just adding to what we’re already doing, we’ve already a flowing river here,” Mr Joyce said.
It was initially proposed to release 6257 megalitres from the dam before the end of June. Irrigators said the release would peak at 750 megalitres for two consecutive days, which is considered a minor flood level.
“What I’ve conveyed to Josh Frydenberg is, in a drought such as we’re having at the moment, the river in its natural state with no dam upstream from it, there’d be pools, but no flow in the river,” Mr Joyce said.
“We still get a flow in the river because the regulation capacity in Chaffey Dam.”
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