Mel Gray, an Inland Rivers Network member based in Dubbo, was honoured with a Dubbo Day Award on Friday 22nd November. Mel has volunteered much of her time since she’s lived in Dubbo to improving the health of the Macquarie River and Marshes through her association with several community groups including Dubbo RiverCare, Western Paddlers NSW and Healthy Rivers Dubbo.
“Mel Gray: Mel has donated much of her time to unpaid work for various community organisations and it is a wonder she has any hours left to do her paid work. Mel is one of the driving forces behind Dubbo Bushcare, now Dubbo RiverCare Group, she has spent years working along local waterways to improve the riverine environment. Mel became a River Ambassador tasked with raising broader public awareness about the fragile nature of Macquarie River and the world heritage listed Macquarie Marshes the river feeds. She is a natural when it comes to forming partnerships with an innate understanding that there is so much to do in the environment yet so little state or federal funding and that groups and organisations need to network and work together, pooling limited resources to create a critical mass which has the power to get things done. A deserving recipient of this award”.
This week we saw yet another angry outburst from the Deputy Premier, John Barilaro, threatening to “walk away” from the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.
The basin plan is a compromise. It’s not going to be enough to achieve a healthy river, particularly as climate change imposes its footprint across the basin, but it is a fundamentally important first step towards the long-term health of the rivers and the long-term viability of irrigated agriculture.
It would be a tragedy for the long-term recovery of Australia’s largest river system that supports millions of job to be thrown away for the sake of short-sighted politics. Walking away from the plan might be perceived to benefit a few irrigators but it would cause untold damage to all communities throughout the basin.
NSW ignores responsibilities for wetlands, native fish and western communities. Inland Rivers Network has major concerns that the NSW Government is turning its back on native fish, waterbirds, wetlands and downstream communities by proposing new large dams with no impact assessment.
The problems of water mismanagement go back a long way, but one thing is sure, building dams then praying for rain is not a rational solution. According to Kamilaroi water scientist, Bradley Moggridge, Indigenous knowledge-holders should be “front and centre” in decision making around water.
The benefits of the state government’s $1 billion dam-building plan will likely be limited by existing rules that cap the amount of water than can be taken from catchments within the Murray-Darling Basin.
The Murray-Darling Basin Authority – the body responsible for ensuring planning decisions made in the interests of the overall basin – said the proposed upgrade of the Wyangala Dam and the new Dungowan Dam would need to operate within the state’s existing water entitlement rules.
“New or expanded dams don’t create water, but rather intercept and store large volumes of water which can then be managed as regulated releases,” Phillip Glyde, the authority’s chief executive, told the Herald.
“The MDBA is required to ensure that state governments are using no more than the long-term annual average limit of water that can be taken from individual catchments within the Basin,” he said.