Michael Dawson said 1000 acres of his property, “Broadwater”, located 80km west of Moree on the Gwydir Wetlands had been inundated with water controlled under the local Water Sharing Plan.
The water causing the flooding is Three Tributaries flow (or 3T) water.
3T water is natural flow from three upstream tributaries; the Horton, the Myall and Hall’s Creek. The water flows down the Gingham watercourse and Lower Gwydir River. Under the Water Act the first 500ML is protected from diversion.
Mr Dawson said the problems with water inundation began with the purchase of the property “Old Dromana” by the NSW and Australian Governments in 2010.
Prior to this, his property had only been inundated with water during times of flood.
After it had been purchased, Old Dromana was made into a wetland and reserved as the Gwydir Wetlands State Conservation Area.
Mr Dawson believes earthwork structures completed on the property to make it a wetland have contributed to the flooding of his property, in particular the blocking of the Gwydir River.
He believes these were completed either by the government or the previous owner. He said the Gwydir River had been blocked off since 2001.
The Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) manages the environmental water which flows on to the wetlands. An OEH spokeswoman said there had been no alterations made to the watercourse since the government had purchased the property.
The water sharing plan has only been in place since 2004, and has not been tested in a particularly wet season until now.
With the wetlands already saturated, the 500ML flow of 3T water has spread out across properties up to 15km away.
“If (the inundation) occurs in a flood event, we cop that on the chin,” Mr Dawson said.
“It’s not that water we have a problem with – what we have a problem with is this flow of 3T water across our country for the past eight weeks.”
While Mr Dawson’s crop sits in a foot of water, 200m away the Gwydir River – which he claims has been blocked off – is bone dry.
“If the Gwydir River hadn’t been blocked off I wouldn’t be getting this 3T water,” he said.
He and fellow farmers Charles Brett and Rosemary Shepherd are asking for the water to be diverted to allow the land to dry out.
“We need the water on Old Dromana to be regulated so they don’t drown the rest of us.”
If this happens very soon, Mr Dawson says he may be able to salvage up to 50 per cent of his drowned crop.
The NSW Office of Water has confirmed the water could be diverted, however they are reluctant to do it.
“There is a provision to divert the 3T water, however it is complex and must consider the impact on the wetlands, other potential third party impacts such as flooding other property, and the impact on the receiving rivers,” a spokeswoman for the Department said.
The spokeswoman said the landowners had “made a business decision to crop on a floodplain while being aware of the rules in the Water Sharing Plan”, and that this decision came with the risk of inundation.
However, Mr Dawson said the type of flooding occurring on his property was not part of normal flooding.
The Office of Water will host a meeting with relevant stakeholders in August to establish whether the water will be diverted.
But by that time Mr Dawson says it will be too late, and the 100 acres of wheat, plus another 1000 acres at risk, will be lost.