Murray Irrigators turn off the tap

But he said inflows into water storages along the Murray were the worst on record.

"They’re actually a lot worse, they’re like 30 or 40 per cent worse than the worst ever inflows ever recorded,” he said today.

"We’ve had a run of dry and very dry seasons over the last four or five years and these massive storages which have served us so well are now at the point where they’re running out of water too.”
Murray Irrigation takes water from dams along the Murray and stores it in a network of canals, from where it is fed to irrigators and towns such as Finley and Berrigan.

"We simply can’t afford to maintain those levels of water supply right through the summer because we haven’t got enough water,” Mr Warne said.

"Even our modest losses of 10 or 15 per cent are too high to warrant running an irrigation scheme for the whole summer.

"Water for human consumption and water for livestock is by far our highest priority.

"That’s been the real challenge – to try and maintain stock and domestic (supply) in the town, and a farm station water supply, but at the same time recognise that we are cutting the throats of so many irrigators across the region. It’s been tough.”

Mr Warne said Murray Irrigation would probably be able to only deliver water to large customers this summer.

"It will be a grossly truncated system in an attempt to keep those high-value businesses that are in a good spot and have dairy cattle … or have been very large customers, particularly those that employ a lot of people, to try and keep them going through the summer,” he said.

"By keeping one area vibrant and alive we hope to maintain a very vibrant water market to enable those farmers to sell any surplus water they might have.”

Mr Warne said about two-thirds of Murray Irrigation customers in southern NSW already had no water.

"It’s been such a rotten season, they’ve been allocated nothing, so unless they’ve bought water or they’ve carried it in from the previous season, they’ve got no water anyway,” he said.

"So really it’s important for us to provide them with stock and domestic (water), but they have very low expectations about an irrigation supply.”

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