ONE of the region’s farming representative bodies has criticised a public water metering consultation session as inflexible and a "letdown".
The meeting was hosted by the NSW Department of Industry- Water in Gunnedah earlier this month and surrounded an upcoming change in water metering policy.
However, Namoi Water executive officer Jon Maree Baker believes the meeting missed the mark with locals.
“There was a quite a lot of disappointment from our clients regarding the formatting of the meeting,” Ms Baker said.
“I think most who attended the meeting expected an open forum, question and answer style session.
“Realistically that is what we expected but unfortunately not what we got.
“The session was more video and fact sheets based and I think most of the locals who attended probably felt they could have found the same information online.”
Ms Baker said it was disappointing the meeting didn’t include an open forum.
“Concerns were raised prior to and during the meeting,” she said.
“We wrote to the minister (Niall Blair) to raise these concerns and I think the minister assumed the same outcome we did.
“Or main concern from the meeting was that we had people who had come from as far as two hours away to attend the meeting and they felt let down.”
A Department of Industry-Water spokesperson said the Gunnedah meeting followed the same format as meetings across the state.
“This presentation was to allow for a formal presentation to be available to those stakeholders who wanted a broad overview of the policy,” the spokesperson said.
“Experts from within the department were made available at the session to talk to individual water users.
“This format was decided so that people who attended could understand how the policy applies to their own individual situation and raise any anomalies the Minister may need to consider prior to finalising the broader policy.”
The Gunnedah meeting was one of of five regional meetings across the state so far.
“The consultation in Gunnedah was the second of two consultations made available to Namoi Valley water users,” the spokesperson said.
“The department had previously consulted with the customer advisory group for the Namoi Valley.
“Conversations are on going with Namoi Water around the proposed policy settings.”
Ms Baker said Namoi Water will urge any of its concerned clients to make a submission regarding the new policy.
“This is not just an issue for our region but our state as a whole,” she said.
“We would urge the department to be open to flexibilty for any future meetings because a style of meeting that may work for one community may not work for another.
“In the mean time Namoi Water will be hosting a meeting on September 20 for our stakeholders regarding the new policy.
“The new policy is going to affect everyone so I urge everyone to go onto the DPI-Water website and take a good look.”
The changes will see irrigators across the state install a mandatory meter to monitor water usage of each irrigation licence holder.
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