Irrigators need support, not rebuffs, if they are to quickly adapt to the many demands being placed on them, according to the Professor of Irrigation at Charles Sturt University.
Professor Graeme Batten was responding to a media report this week in which the NSW Premier stated that all of the State's rivers would become saline streams unless water reforms are carried out.
"Irrigators are facing environmental and political changes that threaten their survival," Professor Batten said.
"Irrigators, like other rural producers, appreciate that they are the custodians of the land they occupy.
"They need support to respond to the new demands and emerge with viable, water efficient farms which underpin regional employment and contribute several billion dollars to the economy," he said.
Professor Batten said active partnerships have been formed between irrigators and conservationists to address river health and biodiversity concerns.
"The Premier's comments fly in the face of those who have worked hard but patiently to improve the lot of producers while protecting the environment," he added.