THERE is growing frustration among River Murray irrigators following the recent announcement that water allocations would be capped at 67 per cent because of the inclusion of carryover water in the overall entitlement for South Australia.
SA irrigators carried-over 228 gigalitres from the last water season and were under the assumption that would not be included in the State's water allocation, which has since hit a 650GL cap.
However Water Minister Paul Caica said carryover volumes had always been included in the 650GL available to licence holders, since the initiative was introduced as a specific drought measure in 2007.
"We are not sure where the assumption has come from as carryover has always had to be included in the 650GL annual allocation limit for water licence holders," he said.
"However this is the first year since carryover was introduced that the total volume allocated as carryover from the previous year plus water available for allocation to entitlement holders for the current year has reached the 650GL limit."
Member for Hammond Adrian Pederick said the "dodgy" 650GL deal made by the former government of Premier Mike Rann and Water Minister Karlene Maywald with the eastern states was again dudding SA irrigators.
"The government should have never allowed carryover water to be included in any future allocation upgrades," he said.
"Carryover is water allocated the previous year and if irrigators knew that it would be included this year, they would have traded their carryover in when they saw the season improving.
"Maybe then all irrigators would now be on 100pc, and not losing a third of their entitlement.
"The government is lucky that irrigators have been operating in drought mode the past four years and that 67pc is a more positive number than 18pc."
Liberal Member for Chaffey Tim Whetstone agreed, saying water bought and carried over from last year should not be included in this year's allocation.
"Each year is a different bucket of water," he said.
"The current legislation is flawed and it doesn't allow irrigators to operate on a level playing field.
"Some people are at an advantage for carrying over their water, while those people who couldn't afford to carryover have been left out in the cold at 67pc.
"Why can't the State Government put our carryover component into storage, and give all SA irrigators 100pc allocation?"
Mr Whetstone has lodged a Freedom of Information request to access documents on the carryover rules. He hopes to meet with Mr Caica within the week.
* Full report in Stock Journal, November 11 issue.