Media Release – CEWH’s Likely 1st Southern Trade of 20GL Water = MDB Inquiry, Scrutiny Working


Family First Senator Bob Day says a recent announcement by the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder (CEWH) that it intends a historic first southern water sale shows that the Senate inquiry he deputy-chairs is already having the desired effect.

The CEWH October to December portfolio management update says CEWH will likely sell 20 gigalitres of temporary water in the Goulburn catchment. Water users in the Southern Connected System can bid. Water experts Waterfind claim this is a historic first time CEWH will sell water in the Southern Connected System. This contrasts with previous trades in the Northern Connected System of 10.34GL in the Gwydir and Peel catchments yielding $3.25m.

“The principle is far more important than the amount of water involved,” Senator Day said, “Inquiry submissions call for the CEWH not to hoard its water but to trade it back into agricultural and horticultural use where it belongs. While there’s no additional water supply, market forces mean the CEWH – as an ever-growing participant in the demand pool – drives up temporary water prices. There’s been huge outcry and public protests about rising temporary water prices. Inquiry Chair Senator David Leyonhjelm, Senator John Madigan and I attended the 1,000 strong protest meeting at Barham, NSW that was the trigger for this Inquiry. It is no coincidence that the Senate spotlight is on the management of the Basin, and now the CEWH is open to selling water in the very region where protests are loudest.”

The CEWH holds a growing 2,372 GL of water entitlements, worth an effective long term average annual yield of 1,646 GL across 19 catchments. It has a Special Account of $30m and annual budget of $9.2m with 63 employees (per Inquiry submission).

The Senate recently capped irrigator buyback at 1,500GL, which Senator Day supported.

The inquiry holds its second meeting in the Basin tomorrow in St George in Southern Queensland. The first meeting occurred earlier in the month in Canberra, and will meet in Broken Hill (26 Oct), Griffith (27 Oct), Echuca (5 Nov), Goolwa (8 Dec) and Renmark (9 Dec).

Image: Wakool River at Kyalite, Mattinbgn