Water, water, water

As the grape and wine industry plunges into the 2019 harvest following the most blistering growing season in recent memory the water worries for the current year and for future years are causing many to lose sleep and to search for better ways of managing the water risk.

Knowing what to do, to have best effect is challenging. Almost every enterprise views the water challenge from a different perspective depending on circumstances.

With temporary water prices seemingly locked in at more than $500/ML and permanent prices hovering around $5,500/ML many members are confused about the best risk management strategy. Trust irrigators must ensure accounts are reconciled at the end of each quarter. Thankfully water use efficiency standards across the region are generally of a very high level. Nevertheless with uncertainty around carryover rules, site use allowance and asset values the worry about what to do next keep many irrigators distracted well into sleep time. Some have observed the value of the water asset is substantially more than their vineyard is worth. Nevertheless, planning the best course of action at the enterprise level and being mindful of environmental and community welfare is difficult. The absence of an overarching water register makes it impossible to know the status of all available water; whether it available for consumptive use, held for environmental purposes or held by speculators.

The management committee of Riverland has proposed that the region association should consult with other irrigation groups to gauge the level of interest in establishing a forum to consult regularly with the Department of Environment and Water, the MDB Authority and even irrigator groups across the border.

The Riverland Wine position regarding the Murray-Darling Basin Plan continues to be that having a plan is much better than not having a plan. It is imperative that the Plan continues to be rolled out and that the consultation process between stakeholders throughout the Basin is transparent and constructive.

If you support the idea of such a forum being established please contact Riverland Wine.


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