Hunter River irrigators facing significant cuts to water allocations for 2020-21

Hunter River irrigators are facing a significant cut to their water allocations for the period July 1 2020 to June 30 2021 with general security licence holders expected to receive just 20 per cent of their entitlements.

This year (2019-20) general security licence holders received 95 per cent of their entitlements.

Only a significant rain event in the catchment of the Glenbawn and Glennies Creek dams will reverse the current situation as each dam is currently holding below 40 per cent of their capacity.

The last time general security licence holders were in a similar positions was back in 2007 when they were told they would receive only 8 per cent of their entitlements due to the drought conditions and low dam levels prevailing at the time.

However, literally overnight that cutback was replaced by full allocation due to flooding rains arriving on June 7 an event best known for the beaching of the Pasha Bulker in Newcastle.

WaterNSW is expected to announce their final decision later this month having held an online meeting with water users last week.

High security water holders, that includes mostly mining companies as they own 83 per cent of these licences, will receive 85 per cent of their entitlements.

Any irrigator who has 25 per cent carry-over of this year's entitlements will, at this stage, be allowed to use that next year.

Hunter Valley Water Users Association secretary, Scott Wheatley said given the 20 per cent allocation and carry-over being made available the situation was not all doom and gloom for many general security licence holders.

"Look in the Hunter we are still better off than many other inland irrigators who for the last couple of years had zero allocation," he said.

He also wanted anyone who was not going to use their carry-over to seriously consider putting it on the temporary transfer market.

"These people only have a couple of weeks to offer that water to would-be buyers so please if you aren't planning on using the water then make it available to those keen to make the most of the water," he said.

Currently temporary transfer entitlements are trading for between $50-$100/megalitre.

"If you have those entitlements nows the time to act if you want to trade them on the temporary transfer market," he said.

"Trading that water is good for the holder and the buyer."

Inflows to the Hunter River from good rainfall in the Goulburn River catchment, so far this year, has been a bonus for all water users.

The rivers join near Denman and the Goulburn's water has meant less water has needed to be released from the two dams for irrigation and environmental flows.

One of the large general security water users is the Pokolbin Irrigation District (PID), whose operations manager Ken Bray said he was pleased WaterNSW had been keen to advise irrigators about their planning for future water allocations.

He said the PID had then been able to discuss what's happening with their users in Pokolbin and planning meant all on-farm dams were now full at the start of winter.

"We also advised grape growers to water their grapes this month so they would have a full moisture profile," he said.

"Good water management will be required this season based on the entitlements and thats what growers have to embrace as we head into spring and summer."