The four workshops convened by The Department for Water and the Environment and the SAMDB NRM Board across the region two weeks ago attracted roughly 400 irrigators. If there were any doubts about the need for more and more information about Water, look no further.
If there was such a thing as a worry-meter and if those attending had to rate their level of worry about a range of issues like finishing this season, likely opening allocations for next season, prices for temporary and permanent water now and in the near future, parking water, carry-over rules and the list goes on, the average worry-level, on a scale of nought to ten would have been much closer to 10 than 5.
The speakers were all well received. Besides the highly regarded Jarod Eaton and his colleagues Dan Jordan and Ashley Kingsborough, irrigators were interested to hear from Waterfind Director and local identity Tom Rooney and from Chris Olszak, an independent Director from AITHER Water Markets. Some of the Q and A sessions were lively and inevitably there was not enough time to answer all the questions. In the ‘time-on period, after the meetings it was pleasing to hear the comments from irrigators who had been prompted to think more innovatively and to seek further advice. Sheridan Alm urged those at the Loxton meeting, not to ‘self-assess’ but to ask questions and listen carefully to advice; one of the big lessons from the last drought period.
There was a strong show of support at the Loxton meeting from the irrigators and others present for further sessions to be convened in the coming year or two. The region has done it very successfully in the past through the Horticulture Reference Forum and the SA River Communities (SARC) during the MDBA deliberations.
Riverland Wine will convene and promote the ‘Water-Works’ information sessions with the first to take place in mid-May. Depending on the level of support from other regional groups with vested interests in irrigated horticulture, the sessions may or may not become a regular occurrence. Riverland Wine will convene, promote and run the first session at the Research Centre. Those attending the first meeting will influence future ‘Water-Works’ events in terms of guest speakers, venues, agendas and frequency of meetings. If there is not sufficient interest, that will be a signal that all’s well and there may not be a need for regular events.
Dan, Jarod, Ashley and Chris from AITHER have already agreed to attend the first session. In the past it was quite common to have the Water Minister in attendance, but time will tell if there is sufficient interest to warrant expanding the group.
The presentations from the recent information sessions are available on the Department for Environment Water website.