The government has pledged more than $30 million in funding for the repair of levees damaged in the 2022-23 River Murray flood, but many have labelled it a case of too little, too late.
Last week, the state and federal government announced $17.1m in funding for the repairs of government-owned levees between Mannum and Wellington, with another $14.2m for initial repairs for privately-owned levees in the lower Murray from the SA government.
Some have questioned why this funding is coming more than 12 months after the initial flood and seven months after the excess water was finally pumped out of the river flats.
SA Dairyfarmers' Association chief executive officer Andrew Curtis said while the funding was welcome, it was "frustrating" it had taken this long.
"This is only the interim works, and consultations and committees still need to happen for long-term works," he said.
"The $30m proposed isn't going to get everything back to even pre-flood levels, let alone satisfactory levels."
Mr Curtis said the lack of certainty for farmers made it harder for them to make plans and look ahead.
"There is a lot of opportunity in the dairy industry and people want to plan for and capture that opportunity, but it's hard to do that if you don't know the fate of critical infrastructure," he said.
South Australian Deputy Premier Susan Close said this funding would allow for the completion of immediate works while a longer-term strategy was developed to bolster resilience of the region's levee network - both government and privately owned.
It also follows some immediate remediation work, which began as early as March last year.
A spokesperson for Ms Close's office said there had been "considerable work" undertaken in the past 13 months, including emergency response repairs to damaged levees to allow dewatering and get people back on their land.
"While the state government undertook this work, it also negotiated a funding package with the federal government to ensure the integrity of the government levees until such time the longer-term remediation works can be completed," they said.
"Levees are designed to be effective up to their design height.
"Many of the levees overtopped and therefore they worked as they were intended."
Mypolonga, SA, dairy farmer David Smart said he was always aware the repairs would be happening in stages, but he had not expected it to take so long for stage two to be implemented.
"It's going to be nowhere near enough money to do the job properly," he said.
He wants to see the levees restored to the level pre-flood, but is concerned it may not happen quickly enough, particularly with the threat of wet weather along the eastern states, with Cyclone Kirrily, which could soon be coming down the Darling and Murray.
"That's where the water came from last time," he said.
He said with the levees in their existing state, any minor flood, or even a "high river" would likely result in overtopping again.
Mr Smart has been working to rebuild his dairy operation, after needing to dry off his cows for most of 2023, slowly bringing cows back and resuming milking again in September.
At the moment he is milking 160 cows - before the flood he was up to 640.
He was among a group of Lower River Murray Reclaimed Irrigation Area representatives meeting with government representatives on Wednesday to discuss the process going forward.
His main goal from that meeting was for the government to prioritise those most impacted.
"I think they've got to cut back on the bureaucracy and spend more money on contractors, otherwise half the money will be gone," he said.
"(The levees) don't need to be higher than what they were before but they do need to be maintained."
Opposition spokesperson on Water Resources and the River Murray Nicola Centofanti said while she was pleased a funding agreement has finally been reached, it should have been addressed immediately following the flood - not a year down the track.
"It's incredibly concerning that Labor's moving at a snail's pace when it comes to ongoing levee management, despite more than a year since the peak of the flood," she said.
"It is troubling that it's taken this long for them to work out a funding agreement and quite frankly, it is a kick in the guts to many landowners who have used their own money to do work the governments should have been doing 12 months ago."
Member for Hammond Adrian Pederick also questioned the delays.
"Over the past year, irrigators have been pleading with the SA government to provide assistance so they can repair their private levees but were told the state was waiting on federal government funds," Mr Pederick said.
"If the state government had funds available all along I fail to comprehend why they are only now just deciding to allocate it to these critical repair works."