Riverina irrigators are pinning their hopes on former Defence Force head Air Chief Marshal Sir Angus Houston, who has been appointed as the new chairman of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority.
Sir Angus will be the latest political "outsider" to scrutinise the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, following on from the appointment of former police commissioner Mick Keelty to the role of inspector-general.
The change in leadership has renewed hopes of reform among some farmers, however, Griffith irrigator Chint Quarisa said he remained sceptical whether a "new face" would make any difference.
Mr Quarisa said he had seen MDBA chairmen come and go over the decades, but had never seen any meaningful reform to the benefit of southern basin irrigators.
"Changing the chairman ain't going to make no difference - they have to disband the MDBA and start again. The whole process was flawed from the start," Mr Quarisa said.
"For me it's obvious that the concerns of irrigators and viability of irrigators in NSW are not being looked at, not being listened to, and it's very disappointing. A new chairman makes no difference whatsoever."
Mr Quarisa said he planned to soon retire from farming altogether, saying there was no future for the industry while the Murray Darling Basin Plan still exists.
Griffith mayor and irrigator John Dal Broi took a more optimistic view, saying that Sir Angus could provide the much-needed shake-up that irrigators were demanding.
"The former chair was an ex-politician, so one would hope that this new chair would look at the Murray-Darling Basin Plan in a new light," Councillor Dal Broi said.
"Not having any political baggage he might come up with some different views about the plan, how it's administered, and any changes going forward."
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Cr Dal Broi said he foresaw more water allocations in store for the Murrumbidgee, which until recently had gone two years without a single drop of general security water.
He said rice growers had been offering supply contracts in anticipation of wetter days ahead, and that all of them, to his knowledge, had found a buyer.
Speak Up Campaign chairwoman Shelley Scoullar said it was "imperative" that Sir Angus visit the Murray and Murrumbidgee regions to see the "damage" caused by the basin plan with his own eyes.
"Sir Angus has an opportunity to re-set the relationship with our communities and help us work on solutions that can improve this failing basin plan," Ms Scoullar said.
Wagga mayor Greg Conkey said he hoped the new chairman would take action on water trading, saying it has put undue pressure on basin communities.
"Water is such a precious commodity, and I'm concerned about water trading and the fact that people can buy water licences from overseas here in Australia," Cr Conkey said.
"The issue been around for quite some time and it needs to be addressed."