The New South Wales government has given the green light to irrigation farmers in the north-west of the state to harvest the recent rainfall, pleasing some but causing anger in towns such as Menindee and Wilcannia and on the lower Darling where the river has not flowed for a year.
The lifting of the embargo for three days will be welcomed particularly by cotton farmers who have lobbied the NSW water minister, Melinda Pavey, warning that unless they are able to harvest the water their infrastructure will be damaged.
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.
“Rivers are the arteries of our planet; they are lifelines in the truest sense.”
~ Mark Angelo
What better day to get in a boat and clean the river, where we get our water from, than WORLD RIVERS DAY and CLEAN UP THE WORLD DAY.
World Rivers Day is a celebration of the world’s waterways. It highlights the many values of our rivers, strives to increase public awareness, and encourages the improved stewardship of all rivers around the world. Rivers in virtually every country face an array of threats, and only through our active involvement can we ensure their health in the years ahead.
Community groups in Dubbo NSW came together and took to the water, collecting 180kg of general rubbish, tyres, bikes and seven shopping trolleys from the Macquarie River, the source of 70% of the town’s drinking water.
“….Drive north of Warren towards the Ramsar-listed Macquarie Marshes, though, and it’s easy to see why a lot of rain will be needed to revive the land and its remaining native flora and fauna. The Ramsar Convention is an international agreement to protect wetlands, many of them hosting migratory birds, that are important to wildlife and broader ecosytem health. Australia has 66 such Ramsar sites.
“It’s going to take floods and floods and floods – just to fill up the dams,” says Mel Gray, a convenor of the Dubbo branch of environmental group Healthy Rivers as she points to a six-metre-high embankment built near the Marshes.”
This timely exhibition presented in collaboration with Broken Hill Regional Art Gallery, focuses on what is the most pressing environmental crisis of our time: the on-going devastation of the Murray-Darling Basin.
Art, by mysterious means, has a way of penetrating the hearts and minds of people prepared to pause and look. Led by Barkindji artists, the powerful revelations on display at the S.H. Ervin Gallery in September 2019, followed by Broken Hill Regional Art Gallery in May 2020, will re-enforce the need to act now and save our vital waterways.
The artists featured in River on the Brink include Badger Bates, Elisabeth Cummings, Nici Cumpston, Ruby Davies, Bonita Ely, Paul Harmon, Julie Harris, Eddie Harris, Kim Harris, Waddy Harris, Brian Harris, Amanda Penrose Hart, Martin King, Euan Macleod, Guy Maestri, Ian Marr, Justine Muller, Idris Murphy, N.O.T., Ben Quilty, Luke Sciberras, James Tylor, John R Walker, Melissa Williams-Brown.
“People are profiteering… It’s the biggest water grab in Australia’s history.” Grazier
In Australia’s most important river system, the water is so precious, it could be liquid gold.
“People want to get water in their hands because if you get water in your hands that’s big money.” Grazier
Stretching from Queensland to South Australia, billions of dollars in tax payers’ money has been poured into rescuing the rivers and streams of the Murray-Darling Basin to save it from environmental collapse.
But nearly five years on from a landmark agreement to restore the river, something is wrong.
Taxpayer dollars, secretive deals and the lucrative business of water.
“It’s a national scandal.” Water economist
Two years on from the Four Corners investigation into water theft in the Murray-Darling Basin that sparked a royal commission, the program returns to the river system to investigate new concerns about how the plan to rescue it is being carried out.
“How extravagant is this scheme?… I’d just call it a rort.” Lawyer
The Murray–Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) Chief Executive, Phillip Glyde, said that while some work had progressed over the past six months, concerted action in the second half of 2019 was needed to improve the outlook for six key elements of the Basin Plan.
“We have found the current level of progress varies. Good progress is being made in three areas: water recovery, managing compliance with the rules of water use and the delivery of water for the environment are maintaining a good pace.
“On the other hand, the adjustment to the sustainable diversion limit (SDL) is at risk, finalisation of some water resource plans has been extended because of delays and more work is required to implement initiatives in the Northern Basin.
“The Basin Plan arose from an urgent need to secure the future of our nation’s most important river system, and was forged in the spirit of cooperation and bipartisanship. It is a testament to the strength and importance of the Basin Plan that this bipartisanship has endured.
COMMUNITY STRATEGY TO RESTORE INTEGRITY IN THE MURRAY-DARLING BASIN PLAN
LifeBlood Alliance – 8th July 2019
The Murray Darling Basin Plan set out to save our rivers from environmental disaster. Since the $13 Billion Plan began in 2012, there has been major concerns raised with implementation, including allegations of corruption, maladministration and mismanagement.
Communities who depend on our rivers fear that if we don’t act now to bring the Plan back on track, our rivers will die and dependent communities will decline.
Here, we present a 7 point strategy to restore integrity to the Plan, so it can deliver on its key objectives – to keep the rivers and dependent communities alive and well.