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SA irrigators dissatisfied with Government announcement about water allocations -

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MARK COLVIN: South Australian irrigators say a Government announcement about this year's water allocations is not enough to plan properly for their businesses.

After months of pressure and frustration, the Government has promised to give information about minimum water allocations by the end of this month.

Farmers and local irrigation bodies in South Australia's Riverland have welcomed the announcement.

Growers have taken a difference stance, saying that it's still not as clear as the forecasts farmers in other states get.

Dijana Damjanovic reports.

DIJANA DAMJANOVIC: Riverland citrus grower, David Arnold is desperate for information about how much water he'll be able to use next financial year.

DAVID ARNOLD: We have some more information. I wouldn't say it's enough information, no.

DIJANA DAMJANOVIC: He's been closely monitoring the allocation plans which are determined by South Australia's water department.

Most recently, the state's Water Minister, Ian Hunter, confirmed that he'd make an announcement on the minimum opening water allocation for farmers by the end of this month.

He's also stated eligible private irrigators will be able to carry over their unused water into the new year, and retain water purchased from interstate.

It's been welcomed as an improvement in communication with irrigators, who have been asking for more certainty from the water department for months.

David Arnold says the announcement hasn't told him anything he as a grower didn't already know.

DAVID ARNOLD: We already knew there'd be carryover water; there'd be an announcement at the end of April. So we still know that's sort of the same and we're going to know that.

DIJANA DAMJANOVIC: He's says he's still in the dark about how to plan for next year.

DAVID ARNOLD: Still, I suppose, there's nothing sort of concrete to make any direction where you going to head and things like that.

DIJANA DAMJANOVIC: Peter Duggin is from the Renmark Irrigation Trust, a non-profit cooperative responsible for pumping water out of the River Murray and administering it to growers like David Arnold.

They're in close contact with Riverland growers and South Australia's water department.

He points out that from an irrigator's perspective, information about carryovers and buybacks need to be given sooner rather than later.

PETER DUGGIN: From the Minister's point of view, I guess the later it is, the easier it is for him to have more accurate and up-to-date information.

But of course the window closes for the irrigation community for their forward planning and their ability to put aside water.

DIJANA DAMJANOVIC: Tim Goodes is the state Environment Department's deputy chief executive.

He says the water department is working to improve their communication with irrigators.

TIM GOODES: So last year the first announcement was very late in June, and this year, the first announcement will be at the end of April. And at the beginning of April the Minster has in effect laid out the parameters that will be involved in the decision.

So we've managed to improve the timeliness already and we aim to improve it even further.

DIJANA DAMJANOVIC: Greg McCarron is from the Central Irrigation Trust and works with landholders in the southern parts of the Riverland.

He wants the South Australian allocation system to be up to the same standard as other Murray-Darling Basin states.

GREG MCCARRON: We'd continue to encourage to the Minster to make that information available as early as possible, and particularly align with the eastern states.

DIJANA DAMJANOVIC: Citrus grower David Arnold says he wants to see a more consistent system similar to that which irrigators in the eastern states enjoy.

DAVID ARNOLD: They're not giving us the evidence. Now my understanding is that New South Wales, Victoria have indications or they do probabilities and accurate guidelines and they know what they're going to do with carryover and things like that.

So people just need to start making decisions ahead of time; we can't just suddenly get information in the middle of June and say, "Righto, July 1 this is what we know is going to happen." We can't be that reactive.

DIJANA DAMJANOVIC: Last year, South Australia's Water Minister, Ian Hunter, did not make an announcement until the June 26, just five days before the allocations took effect.

MARK COLVIN: Dijana Damjanovic.