Water wash worries

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Water wash worries

Easily done: Mt Eccles farmer Ian Campbell, is not pleased about farmers having to pay for dam water to wash their dairy sheds.

By Jane Ross
DAIRY farmers continue to fight having to pay for water from their own dams.
Because many of them use it to wash down their dairy sheds and equipment, it’s designated “commercial water” and therefore subject to a licence.
And the licences cost money.
Some farmers have called for a Parliamentary inquiry, while their representative body the UDV has written to State Water Minister Tim Holding. He is yet to respond.
Farmers have been given until February 26 to make sure their dairy shed water licences are in order.
The licences were mandated in 2002, covering dam, river, creek and bore water.
Farmers say they understand the need to licence creek and bore water, but not that from dams which, more often than not, they have paid to construct.
The Department of Sustainability and Environment has discovered that some dairy farmers don’t have the required licence, while others have been using more water than their licences allow.
Ian Campbell of Mt Eccles, who has been a dairy farmer for nearly 60 years said, “It’s a big rip off to get at farmers.”
He’s not happy about the licences in the first place, but he’s particularly worried about water quality.
Now that farmers’ dairy equipment washing water is designated “commercial”, he believes it should be tested by the authority that issues the licences.
Local farmers on town water are using liquid that is “tested all the time” by South Gippsland Water.
Those using dam, river, creek or bore water to wash down their dairy sheds are not accorded the same privilege.
Mr Campbell does not think that is right.
He said all water corporations carry out tests for e-coli on the water they sell.
“It’s a breach of the Water Resources Act 1946 for failing to test water used for domestic and food preparation.”
He’s been caught out himself and wants to warn other farmers.
“A small amount of water trapped in the milking plant can find its way into the milk vat via the milk pump, plate cooler and milk lines and may contain e-coli,” he said.
“During the hot summer months some farmers are getting a high microbiological count. This results in a penalty at the (milk) factory.”
He said farm water storages in the open that are subject to sun, wind, birds, vermin, weeds, algae, manure and soil pollution are a risk.
Southern Rural Water is responsible for issuing the dairy shed water licences but does no testing. A spokesperson said a private company called SGS could do that. But there would be a cost.
Mr Campbell has had some problems with his dam, but when it is back in working order, he will have the water tested because he does not want to be caught out again.
Farmers who didn’t take out the licences will have to meet a $701 application fee, pay an annual due of $275, plus an amount for each megalitre of water they use. Southern Rural Water sets this at $3 a megalitre for bore water and $9.35 for bore water.
The Department of Primary Industries has been running information sessions to help farmers work out how much water they are using to sluice down their sheds and milking equipment.

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Posted by SiteAdmin on Jan 28 2010. Filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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