NO RELIEF: Nanango member Deb Frecklington and Chairman of the Irrigator Advisory Comittee Stuart Nicholson are concerned about the low levels at Bjelke Petersen Dam.
NO RELIEF: Nanango member Deb Frecklington and Chairman of the Irrigator Advisory Comittee Stuart Nicholson are concerned about the low levels at Bjelke Petersen Dam. Jessica McGrath

'Just an expense': No water access or relief for farmers

DROPPING dam levels is only part of the worry for South Burnett irrigators.

Irrigator Advisory Committee chairman Stuart Nicholson said many farmers and irrigators were cut off from access to reliable water.

Mr Nicholson is one of more than 160 property owners along the Barker Barambah Scheme whose water allocation was dropped to 0 per cent on July 1, 2019.

"We're completely cut off from the scheme," he said.

"Only those with bores, private dams and tanks have water, and they are the very few."

These farmers fall under medium priority for the water scheme which allocated 100 per cent of water to high priority users, those in the towns.

With the Bjelke-Petersen Dam sitting at 5.7 per cent capacity, it is too low to release water into the creeks and weirs which run into the Barker Barambah water scheme.

Despite the 0 per cent water allocation, these property owners are still required to pay the Part A water fees to Sunwater, which covers maintenance costs.

"While there's water it's no problem because they're getting a return on it, but when there's no water it's just an expense," Mr Nicholson said.

"That's why we're looking for relief during those times of severe drought when we have no water."

Member for Nanango Deb Frecklington has asked Natural Resources Minister Anthony Lynham to consider the Part A water fees to be waived.

"It's deeply disappointing, I'm shocked that the minister refuses to listen to the plight of these landholders," she said.

"They're not receiving a drop of water."

Ms Frecklington said previous governments had given relief in similar drought conditions.

She said the water situation in the drought-declared South Burnett was dire.

"This region is an agricultural region and without water it's very difficult to sustain, but to see Bjelke Petersen at 5 per cent is dire," she said.

She said these were professional farmers who used modern technology and were smart with water.

"We're used to tough times," Ms Frecklington said.

"To see the water levels and how dry it is is really quite distressing which is why we're asking for relief."

Ms Frecklington said it was a fairly reasonable request for the Palaszczuk government to waiver the water fees.

"They've got their priorities wrong," she said.

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