Farmers billed for water stored in own dams

Farmers believe they have been wrongly charged for water stored in their dams.

FLEURIEU Peninsula farmers have been hit with their first bills for water stored in their dams and believe they are being wrongfully charged for water for stock and household use.
The bills, issued by the Western Mount Lofty Ranges Natural Resource Management Board this week, range from $37 to $5000 depending on the storage capacity and water use on properties.

A growing group of outraged Fleurieu farmers has called for others to ignore the bills in protest against the move they say they were guaranteed would not happen.
The Department of Environment, Wildlife and Natural Resources has warned debt collectors would be sent if the bills were not paid within 90 days.

Back Valley dairy farmer Wayne Kirk said when the NRM board pushed for farm dams to be metered in 2011, farmers were told they would never be charged for stock water or household water.
In the first round of bills, farms with no irrigation or water use outside of stock and households, have been hit with water levy bills.

“This is the first time they have sent the levy out in this region,’’ Mr Kirk said.
“They have done it in other regions around the state and I think the Eyre Peninsula also is facing it now. We already pay a NRM levy which this financial year will raise $27.5 million … these bills are on top of that and for what?’’

Mr Kirk said there was a degree of acceptance of charges for using groundwater where farmers used bores for irrigation, but drawing from dams for stock and household water should not be billed.

“There’s some people out there who are going to get really big bills because they have quite a lot of storage. But they’re not using that water, they’re not stealing it, it is in the system,’’ Mr Kirk said.

“The NRM’s argument is that they are controlling water use. They know how big our dams are and how much water we use. If a farmer was to do the wrong thing then they can act.’’
A Department of Environment, Wildlife and Natural Resources spokesman confirmed invoices had been sent out to water licence holders across the Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges region, including the Western Mount Lofty Ranges.

“Water licence holders in the Barossa, McLaren Vale and Northern Adelaide Plains have been contributing to a water levy since the late 1990s/early 2000,’’ the spokesman said.
“Licence holders in the WMLR are now also contributing to the Water levy. This ensures equity with other licence holders In the AMLR region.

“There is no levy charged for water which is used for stock and domestic purposes.’’
The billing of farm general water licence holders in the Western Mount Lofty Ranges will generate approximately $696,000 and $1,200,000 from SA Water.

“These funds are used by the Board to support water management and planning,’’ the spokesman said.
“The board is responsible under the natural resources management act for ensuring the long term sustainable use of the region’s water resources. The board implements the act through the development and review of water allocation plans and monitoring of the resource.’’

140 Comments Add yours

  1. Craig C says:

    this is a disgrace, SA water can only charge people for supplying the water..NOT for supplying their own water in dams they paid to have built.. how long until they want to put meters on all our gutters and charge us for water that runs off our roof?


  2. Ellen Beatty says:



  3. Ellen Beatty says:



  4. Jano says:

    If farmers store water (which fell from the sky) in their own dams and this water is then deemed to be owned by the Govt…. then the farmers need to CHARGE the Govt. for storing so-called ‘Govt water’ on a private farming property!
    After all, the Govt obtained it for free (and even charged some farmers for storing it for them) then they charge others to use this water!
    If the Govt. thinks it owns the water that falls from the sky, then they are also responsible for droughts and floods and should be sued for insufficient or excess water supply and the damages that result!
    They can’t have it BOTH ways!!!! Even though they think they can!
    …. I wonder who owns the water that falls into the ocean? If there is a tsunami, should people sue the Govt????


  5. Charles Roberts says:

    WHAT ?????? Farmers have to pay for rain that falls from the sky ? Does the government pay the farmer if his dam runs dry ???


  6. Robyn says:

    Perhaps farmers can charge the government rent for use of the water storage facilities on the farm that are holding the water. After all the farmers usually paid to have the dams put in, and are losing pasture etc to the storing of the water on behalf of the government.


  7. Julie says:

    When do we find a government with a little common sense, before we loose the rest our industries.


  8. Sue Norton says:

    Bloody unaustralian


  9. Darren says:

    Its not the Governments water so have no rights to charge for it!!! Simple as that!!!


  10. Denise Farrell says:

    It is the FARMERS water !!!


    1. Absolute disgrace our farmers are the life blood of this once great country all people country and city should stand up and be counted before it is to late good luck and God Bless them all


  11. Bren O'Brien says:

    This is so wrong on so many levels. Australia the Lovely Country (at least the government) seems to be going mad.


  12. J. Cook says:

    I agree with The Farmer’s, Australia wide. It is not just in South Australia, that the Farmer’s are billed for their dam’s. The Farmer’s had to pay to put dam’s in, and most dam’s are filled when it rains! !!!! Am sick of ALL THESE TAXES, that the Government keeping making up to get more out of hard, long working Good honest People!!!


  13. Carmel says:

    Unbelievable. How can they charge you for what nature provides??? I’m wondering, do they give you a rebate, on the water you have to buy, when you have a drought?? Hmmmm.


  14. Chris says:

    Our government is an utter disgrace. Whoever heard of charging farmers for water stored on their farms !


  15. Jenni Kimpton says:

    Can you say Nanny state next they will be charging us to breath air absolutely ridiculas. The sooner people remember we pay the government so they don’t get to rule over us they are nothing more than care takers and we are the boss time to let them know and bring them down a few pegs There are more of us than there is them.


  16. Marylou says:

    I am sick to my stomach with the money grabbing antics of this Government, how much lower will they go. Taking pensions from Seniors, who already live below the poverty, to now taxing farmers for water they use to produce food for Australia. It beggars belief.!!!


  17. Charmaine Chaplin says:

    How bloody ridiculous,,the water comes from the sky last I saw it falling, so we break up our dams and live on What? Politicians have really lost the plot,,when the farmers can no longer produce meat, vegies or wheat what will the politicians do then,, get real and go live on property and try to are doing it tough enough now whith out the stress of this stupid proposal,,


  18. Trevor Weinert says:

    SA,VIC &,NSW Governments should help QLD bye pumping all of Brisbanes effluent water up to the table land and to the start of the Murray Darling Basin , If this was to happen the Basin and the thousands of farmers that rely on it might just be saved. Remember all these States could help fund the water transfer construction and it from my calculations will work and work well . I’m a GreenKeeper and have been managing water for over 30 years, the last 16 with effluent so I know this sort of water management can work and potentially save inland Australia and the Marray Darling Basin


    1. John Huntley says:

      A Far better option is a modified Bradfield scheme Pump water out of the Burdekin river into the head waters of the Culgoa river and it then flows all the way down the MD system. Not only is there plenty of water in the Burdekin pumping it from near the mouth would help save the reef from the nutriments which it contains. And if our successive stupid Governments would allow Thorium Molten salt reactors in this country the power to pump it would be almost free and most instigators would reduce their power bill by around 80%


  19. Paul Wags says:

    Wrong! Wrong! Wrong! Nobody owns the water until it’s collected. If it falls on your land and you collect it, it’s your water. Water is a sovereign right like air. Government can right off.


    1. leekayetj says:

      Hello there
      Can someone supply me with the farmers names and a contact number
      I have a plan to put an end to this

      Liked by 1 person

  20. Sam says:

    I’m sure a good lawyer could make a class action case out of this using comments below. I agree – no one can be charged for what Mother Nature provides. Next thing there will be bills for air and sunshine usage. Is Nestle involved somewhere here?!


  21. Robyn Little says:

    Maybe the government should be paying the farmers, as having their own dams means they are not drawing from other sources like bores or rivers. And it costs a lot to build a dam on your property


  22. Diane Gilbert says:

    Who paid to put the dam in in the first place? I bet the government didn’t!
    Who pays for the upkeep? I bet the government doesn’t!


  23. This is a disgrace. Time to get it sorted and soon


  24. It is a disgrace come on pollies get it sorted and soon


  25. George Parastatidis says:

    The same issue took place here in Victoria many years ago with farmer’s being hit up for collecting rain water in dams on their properties. One farmer was smart enough to ask why and the reply he got was because the rain water belongs to the Government so he simply replied with “so the next time my farm land gets flooded by your rain/water l can sue you for damages” The then government body did a quick about face and forgot all about it. Maybe farmers in W.A. should take the same approach? Fruit for thought.


  26. LINDA PATRICIA says:

    Water is gold. It’s the people’s gold it’s the natural gold produced by nature for survival of the planet. How can any Government own it!


  27. LINDA PATRICIA says:

    Water is gold. It’s the people’s gold it’s the natural gold produced by nature for survival of the planet. How can any Government own it!


  28. Stephen Chara says:

    I’m a yabby farmer in Victoria and I’m told that I need to have a “take and use” license. I have argued that I don’t take any water from the dams for my operation. They counter argued that evaporation of water is my take component.


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