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Irrigators donate millions of litres of their own water to communities that have run out of water

Mollie Gorman and Cara Jeffery, Wednesday October 23, 2019 - 18:19 EDT
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Grape grower Peter Cremasco is one of 11 farmers in NSW who's agreed to donate his water to those in need. - ABC

A group of southern New South Wales irrigators are willing to give millions of litres of their water to towns and farmers running dry, but they need help to deliver it.



Griffith grape grower Peter Cremasco said he and 11 other farmers had pledged to donate one megalitre, but they need assistance to truck the 12 million litres to where it's needed most.

"Just last Thursday Tony 'Tank' Sergi called me and asked about the getting together a bank of growers to donate a megalitre of water towards stock and domestic and household usage," Mr Cremasco said.

"We want to give our water to people that don't have water to bathe their children and have stock dying from a lack of water."

Mr Cremasco was on board with Mr Sergi's idea straight away, with 10 others signing on within a day of receiving the call.

Mr Sergi was also able get delivery company Murrumbidgee Irrigation to waive any charges for the transfer of the water.

"It's really taken off," Mr Cremasco said.

"We have been inundated with calls from people offering huge amounts of water, which we haven't been able to accept because of the logistical issue of getting the water to the people that need it."



Calls to bring in the troops

The growers are calling for bipartisan support of their idea and for red tape to removed so that water could be delivered from the closest point to where it was needed.

"We are hoping that the army may be able to help deliver some of the water," Mr Cremasco said.

"A road train will hold about 60,000 litres of water, so you can see why the freight component for carting millions of litres of water is going to be a problem."

Mr Cremasco said they had no preference as to where the water goes — they just want it delivered to people in need.



"We don't have borders for who is eligible for this water, it's for people who are suffering, people whose stock are suffering, for people that this drought is mentally draining for," he said.

"I had a phone call today from a woman in Warren who has 50,000 acres and no water for her stock, she was asking how she could receive the water."

Mr Cremasco said he was very proud his fellow growers were helping out.

"It's fantastic that while we are suffering in this area, paying $600 to $1,000 a megalitre for temporary transfer of water, that our local farmers are still willing to help others and pay it forward," he said.

"We want people to know they are not alone and other are willing to help them out where they can in a small way, and this is the small way we can help."

Defence waiting for a request

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said it was comforting to see communities banding together to support each other during these tough times.

"I have been informed Defence has not received a request to provide transport support to farms and towns in need of water in New South Wales."

The closest army base to Griffith is located at Wagga Wagga.

"The Government will also consider the recommendations of the National Farmers' Federation alongside the report provided by National Drought Coordinator Major-General Stephen Day and will provide a response to both reports in the coming weeks," he said.


- ABC

© ABC 2019

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