Macquarie Valley cotton growers are in limbo as they wait for advice on the security of carryover water from Burrendong Dam.
Without significant inflows into the dam this winter and spring, only 75 per cent of carryover water is guaranteed. Currently, they have “zero” general security allocations for 2018/2019 and are dependent on water still owed to them from the previous water year.
Macquarie River Food and Fibre executive officer Grant Tranter says record low inflows into the dam have led to the chance of carryover suspension for only the second time since the start of the Water Sharing Plan in 2004.
But with growers needing to prepare for planting in September, he is keen for the NSW Department of Industry (Water) to make a decision about how the resource will be managed.
“Growers just want a bit of certainty,” he said.
“They can say’ I’ve got this much water and I can grow this much at a minimum’.
Mr Tranter anticipates that the 2018/2019 cotton crop will be about half the size of its predecessor.
Cotton covered about 38,000 hectares of the Macquarie Valley in 2017/2018 because of excellent growing conditions and sufficient water.
“We had 38 per cent allocation...and carryover from the flood in 2016,” Mr Tranter said.
He said 2018/2019 was “very different” and a significant drop in production would impact the hundreds of cotton gin workers in the valley and economies of communities such as Narromine and Trangie.
“Every dollar they earn at the gate, there’s two spent in town,” Mr Tranter said.