A decade of dramatic water price increases has forced the Coorong Water Security Action Group to demand attention from the State’s public and political leaders, as it hands down a policy paper which supports on-farm independence for livestock watering.
A 300 per cent price hike over the past 10 years has made South Australia’s water the most expensive in the nation. For many of the Coorong’s farmers – and the Statewide livestock sector in general – this has become a barrier for expansion, intensive production and light industry.
The CWSAG policy paper proposes $1 million worth of grants will be invested in on farm water infrastructure including; leak detection units, water shut off devices, and upgraded water infrastructure including pipes, troughs and tanks.
The policy also outlines no interest loans up to $150,000 per registered livestock production businesses for large scale water infrastructure such as desalination units, piping projects, and lined catchments. These loans would be paid back over 10-year period.
Coorong District Council Chief Executive Officer Vincent Cammell says investing in on farm water security would inject an additional $50 million per annum into the local and SA economy, and will further increase the export capabilities of this region.
“The local livestock industry is a vital part of our region. While we often focus on the bigger picture, what people often forget is that on the ground, it supports local families, small business, communities, schools, sports clubs and sustainable land-management practices,” Mr Cammell says.
“We’re partnering with Livestock SA and local farmers to ensure State and Federal government leaders pay attention to the issue.
“By gaining independence from the SA Water system, our livestock producers can save water from the Murray Darling Basin, secure property values and strengthen the overall viability of our region.
“We also estimate that growth in this sector has the capability to provide up to 350 new jobs in the greater Coorong region.”
The CWSAG has no intention of aligning itself with one particular political party, however members continue to meet with leaders to progress the issue, with a firm focus on gaining independence from the SA Water system.
This week, members of the group including Adam Merry, Jason Schulz and Henry Angas – met at Meningie to discuss the issue with SA Best Candidate for MacKillop Tracy Hill. In recent months, CWSAG members have also met with leaders from the SA Liberal and Australian Conservatives parties, plus the State’s current Labour government.