Ian Cole from Barwon-Darling Water is asking why the pumping embargo is still in place Photo TWH
Businesses will continue to close, jobs will be lost, and more people will leave the Bourke Shire unless the State government agrees to lift the embargo on water coming down the river, according to spokesman for Barwon Darling Water, Ian Cole.
Mr Cole said the government was ‘sitting on its hands’ while communities suffered and unless it moved quickly to allow access to the water for productive use, towns like Bourke would ‘dry up and blow away’.
He called on Water Minister Melinda Pavey, the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment and local councils to consider the economic impact of prolonging the embargo.
“The government needs to get off its hands, remove the embargo and let some of this water be used for productive purposes,” he said.
“If it doesn’t, we’ll see more businesses close, petrol stations close, supermarkets closing, and we’ll have less teachers, nurses and doctors, and less services.
“This downward trend has been evident at Bourke and other river towns since the big cuts to water licences in 2007, and the recent long-term drought.
“I’ve been saying this for a long time and back then people sneered at the prediction but look at what’s happened in Collarenebri and look at Bourke and you’ll see the population has dropped 30 per cent since 2000.
“We need to have jobs and some sort of economic prosperity and it’s water that brings jobs. “
“In the early 2000s there were 700 full time jobs in the irrigation industry - there wouldn’t be ten per cent of that now, due to the drought as well as water reform decisions by government.
Read more in the printed edition of the Western Herald.