GWYDIR Valley’s irrigators are happy prayers for their thirsty crops might now be answered, not by rain, but by the potential to buy more water.
The federal government announced 10 gigalitres of short term water allocations were put up for sale on Tuesday.
Prices hit $300 a megalitre this week, which, according to Gwydir Valley Irrigators executive officer, Zara Lowein, was “well and truly above the $208 long-term average”.
“This season presented a fantastic opportunity to trade water,” Ms Lowien said.
With the tender process due to close today, it is the first time the Commonwealth’s Environmental Water Holder (CEWH) has traded environmental water since its inception in 2008.
Short term annual allocations, not permanent water entitlements, were sold.
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment, Simon Birmingham, said it is a “small trade, but symbolically important as it is the first trade taken”.
According to Senator Birmingham, the CEWH was reluctant to trade water under the previous Labor government.
“The environment water holder made clear they would only expect to trade a small amount of their holdings in any one year – but the dynamic management of water holdings does provide the opportunity to boost environmental and economic outcomes in future years,” he said.
NSW Irrigators supports the CEWH to trade short term allocations.
The association’s economic policy analyst Stefanie Schulte said trading could free up unused water.
However, Ms Schulte said the volume of allocations needed to be carefully considered season by season.
“If there is a lot of water sold on the temporary market there could be large price fluctuation.
“It is important to make the trading intentions very clear and well known to all market participants.”
CEWH’s David Papps said the Gwydir Wetlands required a drying phase after a number of consecutive wet years.
“By all accounts, conditions for a sale of temporary water allocations in the Gwydir are favourable, with strong demand for water and high prices paid for other recent sales,” Mr Papps said.
While in the Gwydir Valley they’re positive about the move, Ms Lowein urged the bureaucrats to move the process along.
“How long will it take to get the paper work through?
“If we are looking at getting this water available by mid-February, it will be too late.”
Tenders for the allocations close today.
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