Scientists slam draft Basin Plan

When a group of highly respected scientists call for the draft Basin Plan to be thrown out completely, its time to start taking seriously the flaws in the process to restore our most important river system. Most significantly, the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists found there is no data in the draft on the amount of water actually needed to ensure the river's health – the whole point of the Basin Plan! This was just one of 5 key failings they outlined in their detailed and carefully considered analysis.

Unsurprisingly the Basin Authority’s response to their statement was underwhelming to say the least, relegating these experts to just another opinion. However, Water Minister Tony Burke still has an opportunity to show some real leadership before he finds he has a plan that blows $10 billion without saving the river, and is supported by no one except a handful of irrigation lobbyists.

But time is running out: the Australian community only has until April to contribute to the public consultation process on the draft. We can choose to support the river and the experts that know what needs to be done to restore it; or we can allow a pre-determined political outcome in favour of business as usual to deliver a hopelessly flawed Basin Plan. It’s easy to add your voice! We’ve got a submission/letter writing help page here.

Or you can read the full statement of the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists (Attached below). They outline 5 key failings:

  1. The Plan specifies a volume of water but it does not identify the volume of water required to deliver a healthy working river, as required by the Commonwealth Water Act;
  2. The Plan cites river management infrastructure as the limiting factor however there is no assessment of the feasibility or cost of redesigning river management infrastructure (such as periodically flooding paddocks or raising the height of a bridge) so that a healthy working river can be delivered;
  3. The Plan does not incorporate in the modelling the impact that increasing groundwater extractions by over 2,600GL will have on surface water flows, many of the groundwater systems in the Basin are linked to river systems;
  4. The Plan sets long term diversion limits on the assumption that there is no risk to river health from climate change; and
  5. There is no information presented on the effectiveness of the Plan to cope with long dry periods such as that experienced throughout the Basin during most of the last decade, or deliver the volumes of water required keep the Murray mouth open as a functioning (Ramsar listed) estuary and export the 2,000,000 tonnes of salt accumulating in the river system each year.

Read the story in the news:

The Age: Scientists Reject Plan to Save Murray Darling

http://www.theage.com.au/environment/water-issues/scientists-reject-plan-to-save-murraydarling-20120118-1q6ot.html

ABC: Scientists want manipulated Basin Plan scrapped

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-01-18/scientists-want-manipulated-basin-plan-scrapped/3781476

 

Attachment Size
Wentworth Group Statement on the 2011 Draft Murray-Darling Basin Plan.pdf 1.28 MB