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.

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.

The official draft Plan hasn't been released yet, but if the final numbers are this low the Authority will be condemning the Murray-Darling Rivers to probable irreversible decline: 

 

  • Red Gum Forests will not get the water they need to survive
  • Extremely reduced migratory bird and fish populations will not be able to recover
  • The Basin's unique wetlands (over 30,000 of them!) will be at risk of drying out
  • The Murray mouth will not open often enough to flush out the millions of tonnes of salt that is released by agriculture into the rivers
  • The Coorong and Lower Lakes in SA will be at risk of becoming hypersaline and acidic
  • The $10 billion of tax payers money the government has committed to saving the Basin's rivers will be wasted

Ten of the peak environmental groups put out a media release in response to this devastating news which you can read here.

“If the MDBA’s current approach continues it will leave future generations a legacy of salinity, acidification and species extinction, " said Jonathan La Nauze from Friends of the Earth.

Our campaigners hit the media with the news, and many national radio and paper outlets reported our rejection of the proposed draft plan.

Environmentalists reject Murray proposal: The Sydney Morning
Herald , Oct 4

Environment groups have formally rejected the Murray Darling Basin Authority's (MDBA) proposal to return 2800 gigalitres of water to the environment. The groups are calling on federal Environment Minister Tony Burke to order an independent peer review of the approach taken by the MDBA.Read the full story here

Green groups reject river plans: The Age, Oct 5

Jonathan LavNauze, from Friends of the Earth, said ''the ecological outcomes of 2800 gigalitres are frightening, the entire South Australian floodplain has been written off and there is a very low chance that the red gums of the Goulburn, Murray and Murrumbidgee would survive''. Read the full story here

Environmental Groups Outraged by Murray-Darling draft plan: ABC PM, Oct 4

JONATHAN LA NAUZE:"And it's very clear that the modelling's been done to meet a political imperative. It does not provide any guarantees for the environment aside from a very clear
decline and death of river red gum forests along the whole length of the Murray."Read/Listen to the full story here