The Barwon-Darling River was identified by the Natural Resources Commission as suffering ecological collapse during recent intense drought conditions. The 2012 Barwon-Darling Water Sharing Plan attributed 16.5 GL (gigalitre = 1 billion litres) to FPH extraction. This volume was used in the development of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan. The proposed new entitlements are above this volume. Extraction from the Barwon-Darling has breached the Basin Plan Sustainable Diversion Limit in 2019 and 2020. The proposed management of FPH in the Barwon-Darling must not lock in individual property history of use.
Key Submission Points (use your own words & additional points)
VOLUME: The volume of FPH to be licensed is estimated to be 51.32 GL (or unit shares), as identified in the Community Assistance Report. This differs greatly from the figures used in the modelled scenarios. There is no confidence in the information provided for FPH assessment or proposed entitlement in the Barwon-Darling River.
Do not support that new FPH licenses will keep extraction below the Plan Limit
Do not support the rainfall runoff exemption – this is free water that must be accounted for
Do not support 500% carryover – will cause loss of key flood flows for downstream benefits to wetlands, cultural values, groundwater recharge, basic rights, and town water supply.
Support annual accounting with no carryover – there is no rationale for this causing larger entitlements other than faulty policy favoring history of use
Support that initial allocation is 1 ML unit share or less depending on antecedent conditions
Support that annual allocation is 1 ML unit share or less, as above
Do not support any trading of FPH entitlement – it is likely to cause environmental and cultural damage – this fails to meet the requirements of trading rules
No works in Floodplain Management Plan Zone A and D should be licensed to take FPH
No lagoons or natural drought refugia should be licensed to take FPH
No FPH works licenses should be granted until all unapproved and floodplain ‘hotspot’ works are removed or modified.
Support no access under resumption of flow rules – these must be stronger to protect higher end-of-system flows in Barwon-Darling tributaries: Border Rivers, Gwydir, Namoi, Macquarie
Strongly object to no FPH access target of below 195 GL in Menindee Lakes until forecast of at least 4,000 ML at Wilcannia. This offers no drought protection and will cause ecological damage. A target of 450 GL in Menindee is needed with higher forecast upstream flows.
PROTECTION OF ENVIRONMENTAL WATER: Rules must protect held environmental water inflows from Queensland and NSW northern tributaries.
AMENDMENTS: Support strong amendment provisions for all FPH management rules to enable rule changes without triggering compensation
The Annual General Meeting of the Inland Rivers Network will be held as a Zoom meeting on Friday 5th November 2021, beginning at 1 pm. Business will include the election of Committee members and the presentation of annual reports. The AGM will be followed by a monthly committee meeting.
The NSW Governments’ draft Namoi Regional Water Strategy includes a lot of potentially useful and sensible options for water security in the Namoi catchment as we face a drying, warming future. Inland Rivers Network is concerned that by presenting the controversial Dungowan dam proposal as a done deal, most of the good ideas could be filed away forever. “We have a once in a generation opportunity to invest in new technologies and reduce the demand on precious water supplies. “Yet the National Party are stubbornly clinging to an outdated notion that building dams somehow creates more water, when all they do is shift water from people in the lower catchment and damage the river in the process,” said Bev Smiles, President of Inland Rivers Network.
The Dungowan dam proposal was used as a case study showing flawed decision making by the Productivity Commission in their review of National Water Reform in February this year.1 “The promise that the expensive Dungowan dam could provide new water in a fully allocated system is an illusion. All this dam would do is deny the environment and water users downstream of their entitlements, and for those upstream send the price of water sky high.” Bev Smiles said. The review found the dam would provide water at a cost of over $60,000 a megalitre, while the current market price for one megalitre is $1,341. “Clearly the dam plan doesn’t make economic sense and the community deserves to see the business case before a funding decision is made,” said Ms Smiles Options in the strategy that Inland Rivers Network support include research into groundwater health, implementing the Native Fish Passage Strategy, and investment into purified recycled water treatments for major towns. Inland Rivers Network congratulates the NSW Government for their work alongside First Nations Groups, and supports options to create an Aboriginal River Ranger program and secure water for cultural sites. “We don’t want to see this opportunity for investment in positive outcomes lost because the Government is rusted on to last century thinking. Dams do not make water.” Media Contacts Bev Smiles 0428 817 282 email@example.com
Letter to the Editor, Northern Daily Leader: Phil Spark, Tamworth NSW.
“I agree with Barnaby the government does face annihilation, but not because it hasn’t built dams, rather because it hasn’t acknowledged the climate emergency and is out of touch with people who fear for the future of more frequent and extreme weather events.
People can see that building more dams would be a waste of money, and would only lead to increasing water use and more degradation of river ecosystems.
It is 1950’s thinking that building dams will solve our problems. It is that thinking that got us into this problem; more dams would only be digging us into a deeper hole.
The reason we have a water crisis is because water use is over allocated and there is less of it to go around because the weather is getting hotter and drier. There is not a single drop that is not already committed to providing for agriculture, towns and the environment.
Building dams is not going to make it rain anymore, just further degrade the already dying rivers that are predicted to have a fish armageddon this summer.
The weather we are experiencing is the result of 1 degree of global warming, by some miracle we might halt warming to 1.5 degrees but more likely 2 degrees. The point is this is no natural disaster and we are not going back to normal or average weather conditions for a long time if ever.
This is a new scenario requiring water plans based on the predictions of climate science not based on what is politically acceptable as was the case for Murray Darling plan. The current water crisis clearly demonstrates current use is unsustainable. It is the sign of the end of the era of limitless and unsustainable growth, and a new era requiring innovative ways to keep everyone in a job.
With diminishing water resources comes the potential for increasing conflict. No town or industry can be allowed to increase its water use at the expense of other users; all users will need to do more with less water and work cooperatively to share the limited resource.
The future is going to be very challenging; we need futuristic leaders who up to that challenge and not dinosaurs whose thinking is 50 years out of date, and out of touch with the people who are really worried about climate change.
If they don’t step up the government will face annihilation at the next election.
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.