The impact of SA Water mains water supply costs on livestock production in the Coorong District Council (CDC) is in the spotlight.
Hammond SA Best candidate Kelly Gladigau, Mawson SA Best candidate Hazel Wainwright and Federal Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie attended a water security tour around the council area, where they heard from several of the region’s farmers about initiatives they had implemented in adapting to rising water costs.
One farmer who spoke to the tour was Gerard Van Den Brink who had installed a desalination unit on one of his properties several years ago to combat the rising water costs.
“Basically, the biggest issue that we’re facing is that there’s not enough money in cattle to pay SA Water for the water we need,” he said.
“Even with high prices in cattle, most of us just couldn’t afford to pay the astrnomical costs for water.”
“The decision to install the unit was a basic economic and common-sense decision,” Mr Van Den Brink said. “The amount of money we would have needed to pay SA Water for the water we would used was unbelievable.”
The desalination unit he had installed used bore water and the final product was completely healthy for cattle consumption.
Mr Van Den Brink said he was thrilled with the decision, particularly when compared to water costs at another property he and his partners operate.
“The costs differences are huge – it’s really hard to believe how different they are,” he said.
Ms Gladigau said she was impressed by the resilience and innovation shown by the region’s farmers.
“It is refreshing to see a close knit group of landholders open to showcasing these water security projects, and being so willing to share ideas,” she said.
“I am really impressed with the water security innovations that have been put into place. It is disappointing that landholders have been put under such adverse water cost pressures.”
She said the SA Best team would look into whether grants and interest-free loans would be viable to support farmers in installing innovative water systems, and that a review of SA Water’s costings and systems needed to be considered.
CDC Chief Executive Officer Vincent Cammell said on-farm water security for landholders were being pursued, despite hopes to work with SA Water on a solution not coming to fruition.