National Irrigators Council chairman, Jeremy Morton, has warned water owners to tread carefully when considering selling their assets to the federal government.
It as tenders for water buybacks open and Murray is eyed off as the primary source in NSW and the ACT, with hopes of acquiring 10 gigalitres from the region.
Mr Morton, who is also a Moulamein rice farmer, has criticised the move, suggesting such water recovery is unnecessary when there is 'already systematic under-use across the Murray-Darling Basin'.
"When you look at how much water is used, I don't think it's really required," Mr Morton said.
"From the National Irrigators perspective, there are plenty of better ways of achieving environmental outcomes with the water they already have rather than purchasing more.
Mr Morton says the volume the government is after actually depends on whether it is high security or not.
"If they were to buy general security water - which is what they would want as it is better value for money - that's more like 17 gigalitres. From a production point of view, that's not insignificant. That's the equivalent of 17 to 20,000 tones of rice which is a reasonable portion of domestic consumption," he said.
After combing through over 80 pages of the government's procurement guidelines for those considering selling, Mr Morton says the procedures are somewhat restrictive.
"It's not as simple as selling to another water user where you have a contractor and a settlement date. You'd know the price, and it could be all over in 30 days if you have an agreement and a contract," he said.
"But this is a situation where people could be sitting for 12 months unable to do anything with their water. That's because once they agreed, it would be tied up until the government decides whether to take it or not.
"Those thinking about selling probably need to consider what value they put on that part of the requirement. If you have an asset tied up, you'd probably want a premium on it that was less restrictive.
"I think anyone considering selling a capital asset like water should get legal advice before they do anything," he said.
The NSW Irrigators council believes buying back additional water from farmers is not needed to meet the Murray-Darling Basin plan's Sustainable Diversion Limits (SDLs).
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