Concerns raised over MDBA decision to increase groundwater limits

The Murray Darling Basin Authority is charged with regulating groundwater acquifers as well as surface water. But in new leaks it appears they are looking to more than double extraction - "That's a huge amount of water to be pumping out of these aquifers, with untold risks for the future of those aquifers and also for potential pollution of surface water streams." says Friends of the Earth Murray-Darling Campaigner, Jonathon La Nauze.

It's also a radical revisal that has no basis in science and potentially opens the door for Coal Seam Gas and other mining in the Basin to large amounts of water.

Read the full story here or listen to the audio.

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Murray-Darling Rivers doomed by Authority's plan

The Barmah-Millewa Collective joined more than a dozen peak environmental groups recently for a special briefing by the Murray-Darling Basin Authority. What we heard was what we were expecting from the recent leaks about the draft Basin Plan. The Authority has bowed to pressure by the irrigation lobby and is planning on returning a measly 2800 gigalitres of water to the environment. This is roughly half of what the best available scientific modelling has consistently shown is needed to restore the rivers to health.

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Scientific Review Commissioned... But Flawed

This year there has been a lot of controversy surrounding the Murray-Darling Basin Authority’s (MDBA) scientific modeling, culminating with a walk-out by the Wentworth Group in May. Environmental groups including Friends of the Earth have been demanding an independent peer review of the Basin Plan’s methodology and results for months (http://melbourne.foe.org.au/?q=bmc/news/23May11), so the MDBA finally commissioned an independent body to form a report on the Basin Plan, which will be released at the end of September.

However, this review can only investigate and report according to very specific and limiting terms of reference; it will not question critical assumptions made that underpin the scientific modeling. For example, only 18 out of 2442 key ecological sites have been used to indicate the health and water needs of the whole system – a risky assumption which needs to be properly examined, but is not being questioned by the CSIRO. Fundamentally, we doubt whether the review will answer the key question of whether the MDBA has used the best available science, as required by the Water Act 2007. We will continue to call on the MDBA to pay heed to the large body of existing scientific work which shows thatanything less than 4,000GL of environmental flows will not save the river.

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Murray-Darling Basin Plan DELAYED

There has been a major development in our campaign for healthy environmental flows in the Murray-Darling Basin: the draft Basin Plan’s release has been postponed from August to early November. This means that the consultation period (during which the public can respond to the Plan) will be for 20 weeks from November until March. This is the time when you are more able than ever to exercise your democratic right to shape policy. Read more
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Why we want a strong Basin Plan: "I love.. / We Can.." Photo Collage Short Film

On 7th and 8th of July a dozen volunteers from Friends of the Earth and the Students of Sustainability Conference took to the main street of Albury armed with blank chalkboards and time to chat.

We asked people 'What do you love about the Murray? What we can do to look after it?' and if they would like to send their answer to Murray-Darling Basin Authority Chair Craig Knowles and Water Minister Tony Burke.

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CSG THREAT TO MURRAY-DARLING: 12.7 MILLION HECTARES AND COUNTING

Seven environment groups last week provided a detailed submission to the Federal Senate Inquiry into coal seam gas and the Murray-Darling, arguing that the industry represents one of the gravest new threats that has ever been seen to the Basin.

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Put science ahead of politics!

Over the weekend, news broke that the Wentworth Group had withdrawn its involvement with the Murray-Darling Basin Authority because of concerns over political interference in the development of a scientifically credible environmental flow regime.

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