Communities in the electorate of Farrer are being washed out to sea to the tune of more than $4 billion, the chair of Southern Riverina Irrigators has warned ahead of a Murray-Darling Basin public forum at Albury.
Grain farmer and water campaigner Chris Brooks urged all members of the community - not just farmers - to have their say on the future of water in the region as part of an inquiry into management of Murray-Darling Basin water resources.
The Interim Inspector-General of Murray-Darling Basin Water Resources Mick Keelty is running "town hall sessions" across NSW, Victoria and South Australia to gauge the views of stakeholders across the Basin.
He will be in Shepparton on Thursday before the session at the Albury Entertainment Centre Theatrette from 9.45am this Friday.
Speak Up campaigner and former Deniliquin rice farmer Shelley Scoullar echoed Mr Brooks' calls, commenting that the management of "our most important resource" affected us all.
"Lake Hume is a critical water source for everyone in Albury, and it is up to all those who have concerns about current water management to let Mr Keelty know that we want better for our region," Ms Scoullar said.
"The Lower Lakes in South Australia (which were once estuarine) are 91 per cent full of fresh water while Hume Dam is at 17 per cent.
"On average the Lower Lakes evaporate the equivalent of a quarter of Lake Hume, and last year alone the equivalent two-thirds of Sydney Harbour was let out to sea over the barrages.
"On top of this, when there is no water coming down the Darling all the water for South Australia is guaranteed by Hume and Dartmouth, which is one of the reasons the Murray has being running so high."
The passionate water advocate will be in Sydney today to hear debate on a petition to the NSW government calling for its support to address the "current mess water management is in".
Mr Brooks said Farrer MP Sussan Ley was "taking water" from local farmers under the pretext it was for the environment when that was not the case.
"The average person is being told it's big hungry farmers here taking all the water - it's such a lie," he said.
"The volume of water they are taking off us ... is doing damage to the environment.
"Look at the Barmah-Millewa forest where everything has stayed under water - the wildlife has gone and those majestic red gums can't live in a swamp.
"Meanwhile they are wasting water out to sea in South Australia. It's the most ridiculous thing I've heard of."
Mr Brooks said the economic hit to the Murray Irrigation district, which spans 750,000 hectares, was close to $7 billion while "1.5 per cent of our GDP goes out to the ocean".