Patyah farmer Trevor Domaschenz fears Water Bill 2014 will dam his livelihood

CONCERNED: Patyah yabby farmer Trevor Domaschenz is worried changes to the Water Bill 2014 could mean farmers who use their dams commercially will be forced to pay for that water. Picture: SAMANTHA CAMARRI

CONCERNED: Patyah yabby farmer Trevor Domaschenz is worried changes to the Water Bill 2014 could mean farmers who use their dams commercially will be forced to pay for that water. Picture: SAMANTHA CAMARRI

A PATYAH farmer believes he could lose his right to farm because of changes to the water act.

Yabby farmer Trevor Domaschenz said changes in the Water Bill 2014 could force farmers who used their dams for commercial reasons to pay for that water.

Mr Domaschenz has been battling government regulations for many years, after seafood regulator PrimeSafe changed licensing regulations, making it difficult for him to sell yabbies after 20 years in the industry.

After taking the seafood regulator to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, a court order against PrimeSafe cleared the way for him to sell yabbies again.

Mr Domaschenz informed West Wimmera Shire Council of his new struggle at a meeting on Thursday night.

"If two farms are side by side and use the same water, but one has sheep and the other grows yabbies, the farmer with livestock would not be charged for water, but the yabby farmer would be," he said.

Mr Domaschenz said Member for Lowan Hugh Delahunty and GWMWater told him it was just an administrative change and he had nothing to worry about.

"I've been told that with other acts in the past," he said.

Mr Domaschenz said page 680 of the bill specifically excluded yabby farmers from stock and domestic water use.

He said the issue was about a farmer's right to farm.

"It's my water. Why should I have to pay to grow yabbies in my water?" he said.

Mr Domaschenz said the bill was now before the lower house.

"We want to hold the bill up until we know what it means," he said.

West Wimmera chief executive Mark Crouch said council would consider writing a letter of support for Mr Domaschenz.

Cr Richard Wait said the idea farmers would have to pay for their own water was irritating.

"If farmers are paying for water but only get 10 inches of rain for the year, is the government going to make sure their dams are filled?" he said.

Victorian Farmers Federation vice-president and Murra Warra farmer David Jochinke said he had similar concerns about the act.

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