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.

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.

80 participants in 8 hours shared both their fondest memories and deepest concerns. A common ground was found. All love the Murray and want it healthy now and forever. Watch our short film photo collage to share in their stories and hopes. More information on the project is found below.

 

If you are having trouble viewing the film click on the following link to see the short film photo collage on youtube...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H6jMeUwoblU

 

What the community said


It was a delight how many people wanted to stop and chat. Over two days eighty people had their photos taken but many more stopped and talked about the Murray. And everyone cared for the river.

The overwhelming message was that people in Albury love their river and want it looked after, for its environmental values and for the benefit of the whole community.

The most common theme was that people love the Murray for its recreational value: fishing, swimming, canoeing, walking and cycling were favourite pasttimes commonly mentioned.

Many people felt that economic values had too much precedence in the way the river is managed. Specifically, a number of residents were worried that the Murray-Darling Basin Authority had been intimidated by the irrigation lobby and that the Basin Plan would be weakened to the point that it would not protect the environment.

People were aware of the damage done by taking too much water over the years and managing the river merely as a giant irrigation channel. Examples of degradation included:

 

  • the decline in native fish like Murray Cod and Yellowbelly
  • Blue-green algal blooms preventing fishing, swimming and drinking from the river
  • stories of when the rivers and creeks used to run clear
  • thousands of dying red gums

 

It is time to look after the river

People remembered the last drought, the algal blooms, the dying red gums. All of this will be worse the next time around if don’t get the Basin Plan right because natural droughts are being exacerbated by the fact that we take too much water from the river.

The Murray-Darling Basin Plan is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reform how we use the Basin so that all members of the community and future generations have a healthy river to swim and fish in.

The best available science tells us that the river can’t cope with less than two-thirds of its natural flows. Taking more than a third of the river's flow for human use pushes ecosystems beyond their natural tolerance levels. In the drought just finished, millions of red gums died and lakes at the bottom of the river became hundreds of thousands of times more acidic than freshwater. Even when it broke, toxic blackwater killed thousands of native fish because a decade without environmental flows had allowed masses of leaf litter to pile up on the flooplain floor, sucking the oxygen out of the first floodwaters when they first arrived.

In August this year we expect to see a draft of the Basin Plan released for public comment before a final decision is made in early 2012. It is critical that the Plan restores our river to at least two thirds of it’s natural flow, because we can’t face many more droughts before the river becomes irreversibly sick.