SUNRAYSIA irrigators have been able to overdraw their water accounts during the Christmas period.
Lower Murray Water has allowed irrigators to go into deficit on their Allocation Bank Accounts.
General manager of customer service Owen Russell said usually irrigators were notified as soon as they went into deficit and had 28 days to make up the deficit or risk being charged an overuse fee of $1000 per megalitre.
However, Mr Russell said during the Christmas and New Year period the irrigators were not pursued for the overdrawn accounts because the LMW offices were closed and there is an announcement on spillwater due tomorrow.
He said LMW wanted to make sure customers knew of recent changes to carryover and spillwater policy when deciding whether to buy allocation.
Irrigators cannot access water in their spill accounts until there's a low risk of spill announcement on the Murray system.
"This was a one off situation and was only advised to customers who made contact with LMW and had concerns about going into deficit," Mr Russell said.
He said LMW had made it clear that once the outcome of tomorrow's spillwater announcement was made customers will once again start receiving overuse notifications if they are in deficit on their ABAs.
Red Cliffs irrigator Bill McClumpha said the practice was unfair as not all irrigators knew about it.
Goulburn Murray Water head of customer service Geoff Enever said G-MW customers must have allocation available and accessible in their allocation bank accounts before placing an order for water.
"G-MW does not approve usage in excess of a customers’ ABA balance pending the announcement of a declaration or determination announcement," Mr Enever said.
"If a customer uses more water than is available in their ABA, G-MW has an overuse policy which can result in the customer being charged an over use fee of $2000 a megalitre."
Mr Enever said G-MW had limited discretion to allow customers to take water in excess of the allocation in their ABA.
"This authority is generally only exercised in circumstances where, due to actions outside the customers control, a delay in transferring allocation has occurred and the management is aware that processes are in place to cover usage," he said.