IRRIGATORS are backing a special political deal between NSW and South Australia which will see extra floodwaters head to the parched Lower Lakes.
While the NSW Government insisted last week it would not be sending more water to South Australia than it was entitled to, agreement was reached yesterday to allow 100 gigalitres of water which would otherwise have evaporated in Menindee keep flowing to South Australia.
On top of that, 48 gigalitres already earmarked for the Lakes in the Living Murray Agreement will also make its way South.
Plus Federal Water Minister Penny Wong has announced this morning a further 20GL of environmental water will flow down the Lower Lakes, following a decision by the independent Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder.
Irrigators in NSW say the deal is a sensible one.
NSW Irrigators Council chief executive officer, Andrew Gregson, said had that water not been released, it would need to be stored in Lake’s Menindee or Cawndilla, which would result in very significant evaporation losses, "which is clearly not in the interest of any State", Mr Gregson said.
The agreement technically takes place outside the water sharing arrangements which kick in after Menindee Lakes reach 640 gigalitres, but is no more than what would have been made available had that agreement kicked in.
Mr Gregson said whilst irrigators in NSW never like to see their water flow past them, they recognise that responsibility for the health of the entire Murray-Darling Basin system lies with everyone.
"The deal that has been announced is a sensible sharing of limited resources. Officials from both States are to be congratulated for having come to a mutually satisfactory conclusion," he said.
Senator Wong said the Commonwealth expected the additional water to start flowing into the Lower Lakes from March, providing welcome relief to the ailing Lower Lakes.