A price hike of more than 300 per cent over the past 10 years has led to the Coorong Water Security Action Group asking state and national political leaders and the public to put an end to the most expensive water in the nation.
The CWSAG has handed down a policy paper about on-farm independence for livestock watering, which shows water pricing has been a barrier for expansion, intensive production and industry in the Coorong district.
The policy is proposing $1 million in grants to be invested in on-farm water infrastructure which would include leak detection units, water shut-off devices, and upgraded water infrastructure including pipes, troughs and tanks.
There is also a call for no interest loans of up to $150,000 for registered livestock production businesses for large-scale water infrastructure such as desalination units, piping projects, and lined catchments which would be paid back over a ten-year period.
Coorong council chief executive officer Vincent Cammell said the investments would produce about $50 million per annum into the economy and would increase export capabilities of the region.
“The local livestock industry is a vital part of our region,” he said.
“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 said by gaining independence from the SA Water system, livestock producers could save water from the Murray Darling Basin, secure property values and region’s strengthen the overall viability.
“We also estimate that growth in this sector has the capability to provide up to 350 new jobs in the greater Coorong region,” he said.
The CWSAG has no intention of aligning itself with one political party, but members continue to meet with leaders to progress the issue, aiming to gain independence from the SA Water system.
This week, members of the group – Adam Merry, Jason Schulz and John Tilley - met with Australian Conservative Party’s (ACP) Robert Brokenshire MLC at a local farm, just south of Meningie, to discuss the issue.
CWSAG members have met with leaders from the current Labour government, Liberal and SA Best parties.
State ACP candidates will be announced shortly, as will a state water policy.
“High livestock prices are masking the true impact of high water prices. Improvements in the cost of mains water would provide a huge economic stimulus to our state,” said Mr Brokenshire.
- More information: www.coorong.sa.gov.au/cwts.