Friday, 10 June 2016
MORE than half a million dollars will be invested in a feasibility study into a new dam on the Mole River, two months after local State MP Adam Marshall led a delegation to meet with Federal Water Minister Barnaby Joyce to raise awareness of the issue.
Mr Joyce today announced that $550,000 will be put toward assessing the feasibility of damming the Mole, potentially delivering greater water security to irrigators in the Border Rivers catchment.
The funds are a direct outcome of local representation.
Mr Marshall first met with Border River irrigators in late 2015 to discuss the advantages of a dam on the Mole River to level out some of the boom-bust flows of the system. The idea was first considered 30 years ago, but has never gained traction.
In May, Mr Marshall led a delegation of irrigators to seek Mr Joyce’s assistance in fleshing out the idea.
Mr Joyce advised Mr Marshall to lobby his State counterparts to seek Commonwealth funding for a feasibility study. Mr Marshall did so, and the NSW Government applied to the Commonwealth’s National Water Infrastructure Development Fund.
Today’s announcement is the successful result of that process.
The Mole rises near Tenterfield and flows into Dumaresq River, which for part of its length defines the NSW-Queensland border and is an important source of water for irrigators in the Border Rivers catchment.
Mr Marshall said that irrigation water security is the basis of economic security for communities across the Western Slopes and Plains, but that security has been eroded in recent years.
“Farms across the region have lost about $20 million in productivity because of the Murray Darling Basin Plan’s water buyback program, and that in turn has cut economic activity across towns like Goondiwindi and Moree by about $40 to $60 million,” he said.
“A dam on the Mole River, should it prove feasible, will enhance water security by ensuring the downstream irrigators are not solely dependent on storing water from high river flows in their own dams.
“Irrigated agriculture is a huge source of revenue and food security for this country, but irrigators are under increasing climatic and regulatory pressure.”
“Governments need to think boldly and strategically about how we ensure the longevity and productivity of some of our nation’s most important primary industries.”
“Partnerships between the NSW and Commonwealth Governments through initiatives such as the National Water Infrastructure Development Fund are crucial to ensuring our state continues to grow by supporting our rural and regional communities.”