By Growcom CEO David Thomson

Burnett growers lives have been unnecessarily turned upside down following last week’s announcement the Paradise Dam would be lowered by five metres.

Local irrigators were shocked to receive an impromptu email from SunWater advising that releases from the dam were about to commence.

Unexpected announcements like these, especially when they concern one of the most important inputs to businesses, are not just unwelcome. They’re unwise and beg further questions of administrators.

Like why are irrigators only being told of these plans now at the brink of the wet season and not six months ago? They have been left without any time to put a crop in the ground or turn it around during just 10 weeks of water releases.

The suggestion that the free water being released is going to benefit growers doesn’t account for the realities of horticulture production.

So Growcom welcomes the announcement by Minister Lynham of an independent review of the dam management, which must in part address the lack of consultation with local irrigators and the community. No doubt there’ll be much to be learned.

This latest episode highlights the need for a better consultation and cohesive strategy for water management across agencies.

That’s why Growcom has only recently established a Water Reference Group, to inform our advocacy on behalf of Queensland horticulture.

The Group will be a forum where a diversity of views can be expressed, convening around important issues. An initial focus will be on the Queensland Competition Authority review of irrigation pricing and Queensland Government proposals for new water measurement and metering requirements.

The Group will also take an interest in proposals for new water storages and schemes, the management of existing storages, groundwater access, and water markets and trading.

Through Growcom, the Water Reference Group will have a line to Ministers and administrators making decisions about water, and ultimately the future profitability and sustainability of our industry.

Growers who are current financial members of Growcom are encouraged to register their interest in joining the Group by confirming their details here: https://bit.ly/2mdMKNu