Water bills to sting irrigators
THOUSANDS of Queensland's irrigators could face soaring water bills if the State Government decides to adopt a report outlining increases in water costs.
The Queensland Competition Authority has released its interim report into SunWater irrigation prices.
The report is now in the hands of the government who will decide what it does with prices proposed.
Queensland Farmers Federation CEO Dan Galligan said farmers would face water hikes of between 20 to 50%, including escalation for inflation, if the proposed prices come into place.
"While this would be a massive impost on irrigators, it would also eventually have flow-on effects to processing operations further along the supply chain," Mr Galligan said.
"This will be lead in the saddlebags for rural communities and regional economies."
He said the report spelled out particularly bad news for farmers in irrigation areas near Maryborough, Bundaberg and Theodore and that the authority had capped real price increases in these schemes at a maximum of $2/ML per year, as has been the government policy in the past.
However, according to Mr Galligan, for the irrigation schemes near Maryborough, Bundaberg, Mackay and Theodore, it will take many more years of $2/ML real price increases to reach QCA target prices.
"This will be a large and unsustainable hit to farm margins given that these increases will occur year after year while the returns farmers receive do not grow at the same pace," he said.
"For the longer term we need to find a pricing regime that is economically sustainable at the farm gate but also allows for irrigation schemes to invest in the modernisation that builds efficiencies and drives down costs."
Mr Galligan said the government needed to work with all irrigators and the sugarcane, horticulture and cotton industries to urgently look at options.
He urged irrigators to attend public meetings on the report and proposed prices, which will be held across Queensland irrigation regions in coming weeks.