Michele Groat - Murrumbidgee Long-Term Water Plan
The Murrumbidgee

The Murrumbidgee

Fast five with Michele Groat, Local Engagement Officer, CEWO

Michele Groat
Michele Groat, Local Engagement Officer for the Commonwealth Environmental Water Office.

1. Where do you work and what is your role?

I work for the Commonwealth Environmental Water Office as a Local Engagement Officer and am located in Griffith.


2. What made you decide to work in this field?

I was offered an opportunity to fill in for my colleague, Erin, while she was on maternity leave and I jumped at the chance. Erin’s now back but luckily, the CEWO has decided to keep me on for a bit.

 As an ex-rice farmer with my husband Mark, I am a very passionate advocate of the irrigation industry and was heavily involved in trying to negotiate a better deal for our community during the drafting of the Basin Plan.

I also worked on the on-farm efficiency program for the Ricegrowers Association of Australia, so it is really interesting to be now working with the water for the environment that has come about through those processes and to see the sort of outcomes from its use.


3. What do you love most about the work you do?

I love all the amazing places I get to visit and all the amazing critters I get to see. Watching a wetland that hasn’t had any water for a while respond when it gets some, is just amazing.

Until I worked with the CEWO I really didn’t give a lot of thought to how the natural Murrumbidgee environment was faring, but like everything, it needs water to thrive.

I also love all the passionate people I get to work with, whether they are farmers, scientists, other water managers or just interested members of the community. There’s nothing better than seeing the look of raw delight on a big burly farmer’s face as he tells me he’s seen some new species on his place, whether it be a pink-eared duck, a pair of brolgas or bitterns. It’s pretty cool.

I enjoy working together to try and get better outcomes for everyone – metropolitan media loves to pit irrigators against the environment, but that’s certainly not how most people I know that live and farm here feel. We all realise we have to find a balance where we can be profitable and have a healthy environment. Every farmer I know wants to leave a legacy for the next generations.


4. Is there something people are particularly surprised to hear about your job?

I think people probably are surprised at just how many amazing wetlands we have in the Murrumbidgee and that most of the CEWH’s water for the environment in the Murrumbidgee stays in the Murrumbidgee for the benefit of our local environment. 

I also think they are surprised to learn that in dry times there is limited environmental water available too and we only have enough to water critical refuges. We often get water to these using irrigation infrastructure because it’s usually a more efficient way of delivering water to a wetland.


5. What do you love most about living in the Murrumbidgee region?

I love the big open spaces, the people and the productivity and it’s a fantastic place to bring up kids.

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