Emerald irrigators to manage locally
OUR irrigators voted for the Emerald irrigation channels to be locally managed and have been waiting eagerly for the final party, the State Government, to hit the ballot.
Water Supply Minister Mark McArdle announced the State Government would support the move and the Emerald interim board chair Netty Smith has welcomed the news.
"This is an opportunity for irrigators to create and develop their own plans for the scheme and the opportunity to manage costs to deliver better outcomes and ensure the long-term viability of the scheme," Ms Smith said.
"Each of the eight interim boards need to be congratulated for the leadership and work that has gone into the process, which has allowed for the decision for the schemes to transition to local management."
With the particulars of the change yet to be known, Ms Smith said she anticipated the process to take at least 12 months.
"No doubt the next stage will be more intense however Emerald has the skill base for a strong board with sound leadership skills required," she said.
Minister McArdle echoed her sentiments and said the move was about "giving water users more opportunity to manage their supply schemes will make them both more efficient and more responsive to customer demands."
Queensland Farmers' Federation water policy officer Ian Johnson said the move was a positive one.
"It will provide the opportunity to have the scheme run to suit local needs and run more efficiently not just in the short term," Mr Johnson said.
"Attention must also focus on planning for the future of the scheme to ensure that it remains efficient."
"A lot of work has to be done now to set up local management including establishment of a board, the transfer of assets, staffing issues and business plan implementation."