News

Water rebate

By Southern Riverina News

Murray Irrigation Limited customers received an early Christmas present in the form of a rebate.

The NSW Government’s Fixed Fee Rebate announced four months ago was made available to customers on December 21.

Fixed charges are fees that are levied irrespective of the volume of water delivered, which landholders have been required to pay through drought conditions and zero access to general security water entitlements.

Murray Irrigation chairman Phil Snowden said between the rebate and the company’s efficiency allocation earlier this year, which he said ‘‘was worth what MIL’s bill was’’, shareholders are in a better position than they otherwise would be.

‘‘The rebate was part of a drought relief package announced by WaterNSW in August and it had taken a long time to work out how it would do it,’’ Mr Snowden said.

‘‘It is a small bit of relief for our shareholders from the New South Wales Government, in what has been a disastrous season.

‘‘The fact we are still on a zero allocation (of general security water) is still not acceptable.

‘‘The company is continuing to pursue every avenue to generate a general security water allocation for customers in the network.

‘‘Let’s hope next year is better.’’

The last allocation update was provided on December 17, and another will not be released until January 15.

In its December statement, the Department of Industry – Water said there had been a small improvement in NSW Murray regulated river resources which has met the shortfall to River Murray Increased Flows (RMIF).

The remainder has been set aside for high priority commitments on July 1 2019.

‘‘Although rainfall in the upper Murray catchment for November has been around average, the high initial loss as rainfall soaks into the ground has suppressed runoff,’’ the statement read.

‘‘November system inflows have tracked well below average, in the lowest 11 per cent of historical record.

‘‘System inflows over the last five months of this water year (July to November) have been tracking in the lowest nine per cent of historical record. However, the New South Wales share of system inflows has been much less than Victoria’s, meaning that the New South Wales resource has tracked drier than overall system inflows over this period.

‘‘At this time of year, resource improvements must be used to ensure next year’s (2019/20) high priority commitments before further allocating to general security users. Therefore, the small remaining improvement has been set aside for this purpose.’’

The rebates cover government fixed fee charges from April 1, 2018 through to March 30, 2019.

They will be capped at a maximum of $1000 per landholding for every quarterly billing period, or $4000 for the entire period.

The first rebate — for April 1 to September 30 this year — was credited to shareholder accounts last week. Anyone whose payment constituted a credit on their account could apply to get the credit in cash.

The second rebate for October 1 to December 30 will be credited to January accounts, with the final payment to March 30, 2019 to be credited to April accounts.