Dawson River water licences granted

09 March 2023

Strong demand for water from irrigators along the Dawson River has resulted in 13 temporary water licences for almost 70,000ML of unallocated water being granted.

The unallocated water was released on 1 September 2022 following a review by the Department of Regional Development, Manufacturing and Water which found that a similar release in May 2019 had provided local irrigators and communities with opportunities to develop agricultural enterprises and strengthen the local economy through jobs growth.

DRDMW Executive Director North Region Ingrid Fomiatti-Minnesma said that irrigators and interest groups had lobbied for a new unallocated water release in 2022 to make this water available again.

“We sought expressions of interest and the response confirmed that a new release would be supported.

“We were able to get this done very quickly, which is a great result for irrigators,” Ms Fomiatti-Minnesma said.

The granting of licences has enabled irrigators to explore potential development opportunities and make productivity gains.

“We know the value of these water licences – they mean increased access to water, greater cropping diversity and opportunities for farmers and that equals economic benefit for local communities,” she said.

Dawson Valley Cotton Growers’ Association president Andrew French said the licences were a welcome good-news story for irrigators.

“We’re very thankful to the department. This is just what irrigators need, and it’s great to see some progress being made in the valley with regards to improved access to water,” he said.

“It’s a fantastic policy from the department and we applaud the initiative.

“This water has gone a long way towards helping irrigators grow their cropping activity and it’s a real boost for the local economy,” Mr French said.

The water release is part of changes made to allow unallocated water reserved within a water plan that is associated with proposed future construction and operation of major water infrastructure, available for a temporary period up to a maximum of three years.

“While we have made the decision to release and grant water licences from this unallocated water reserve, it is not at the expense of the environment or existing entitlement holders – flows will remain to support the health of the river system and our irrigators,” Ms Fomiatti-Minnesma said.

“These licences allow for unsupplemented water to be taken by irrigators under certain flow conditions to ensure the environment and current water users are protected.”

Licences will expire on 30 September 2025 and the water will return to the unallocated water reserve within the Fitzroy Basin water plan. The Fitzroy Basin water plan is currently under review and will consider unallocated water reserves to meet current and future water needs.


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Last updated: 09 Mar 2023