Quality drinking water for 3.4 million Australians only an “aspiration"

Last Thursday Friends of the Earth attended a pre-briefing on the soon-to-be-released Proposed Basin Plan. Amongst many disappointments in the document was this shocking bit of back-pedaling: water quality and salinity targets, critical to ensuring the waters of the Murray-Darling are safe to swim and drink, will now be merely “aspirational.”

Last Thursday Friends of the Earth attended a pre-briefing on the soon-to-be-released Proposed Basin Plan. Amongst many disappointments in the document was this shocking bit of back-pedaling: water quality and salinity targets, critical to ensuring the waters of the Murray-Darling are safe to swim and drink, will now be merely “aspirational.”

Yet again, it turns out that upstream states are behind this weakening of the plan. As we revealed in the weekend’s AustralianAge and SydneyMorning Herald, the governments of NSW and Victoria wrote to the MDBA earlier in the year complaining about stringent water quality targets proposed by the Authority. As a result, requirements such as ensuring that salt washed off farms is diluted with adequate flows, or that conditions stimulating blue-green algal blooms are avoided, will now be non-mandatory. Cold comfort for the 3.4 million Australians who rely on the Basin’s rivers for their drinking water.

With the revelation that NSW had already achieved a weakening of groundwater limits on behalf of the mining industry, an alarming pattern is emerging in which upstream states are successfully lobbying the MDBA on behalf of local vested interests, to the detriment of rivers and communities. This undermines the very intent of the Water Act 2007, which was supposed to finally fix the parochial squabbling of state governments that pushed the basin to the brink in the first place, by establishing an independent Murray-Darling Basin Authority. The MDBA is going to have to grow a backbone before the final Basin Plan is locked in next year if we stand any chance of restoring our darling Murray to health. 

TAKE ACTION!

Outraged at the weakening of water quality targets for the Murray-Darling Basin Plan? The news is fresh and you can help make more of a stir in the papers by writing  a letter to the editor.

There’s some great tips on writing letters to the editor here on the Sydney Morning Herald website

Email addresses
The Australian – letters@theaustralian.com.au
Sydney Morning Herald - letters@smh.com.au
The Age - letters@theage.com.au