PEEL Valley Water Users claim the future of the local irrigation industry would be at stake if council starts using more water from Chaffey Dam.
Tamworth Regional Council has vowed to talk with stakeholders, including the irrigators, as it looks to shore-up a plan for future water security with Chaffey Dam charges set to be hiked-up from July 1.
From next month, council will pay $680,000 to Water NSW whether it uses any of its allocated water from Chaffey Dam or not.
Currently, council holds a Local Water Utility License from Chaffey Dam of 16,400 megalitres.
But it only uses 4715 megalites from Chaffey per year, making-up 56 per cent of water used, with the rest of the local supply coming out of Dungowan Dam.
A report to council recommended council maximise “the amount of water sourced from Chaffey Dam in the future and investigate ways to reduce, or prevent, water being lost at Dungowan Dam through the sluice gate”.
However, irrigators have claimed this change could have “detrimental impacts” on the local industry and could deprive their access to water in the future.
“We can't have an industry reliant on water when we don’t know what the allocation will be from year to year,” irrigator Ildu Monticone said.
“The irrigation industry is at stake.”
Irrigators in the Peel Valley are entitled 6100 megalitres of water a year, if a 100 per cent allocation is determined at the start of the financial year.
In a letter to councillors, obtained by The Leader, The Peel Valley Water Users said the change is a “direct consequence of the recent IPART water pricing determination”.
“Whilst pricing that determination clearly increased TRC’s water charges, it is inappropriate for TRC to now endeavour to introduce an amendment to the Peel Water Sharing Plan that will clearly have detrimental impacts on a long established local industry,” the letter said.
Council has resolved to talk with key stakeholders before diving-in to a new water arrangement and altering any water sharing plans.