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NSW green light to irrigators to harvest rainfall angers downstream residents

 

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.

NSW Government opens the floodgates for irrigators to profit

Conservation groups are outraged at the NSW Government’s decision to allow big irrigators to take millions of litres of flood water from the Barwon-Darling river system.

The government on Monday (February 10) temporarily overturned a restriction it placed on the capture of floodwaters just three days before on Friday (February 7).

The move could divert millions of litres of water from towns and the environment into the storages of large irrigators in the north of the basin.

“After such a prolonged drought, the priority for these vital first flows through the Barwon-Darling system must be to replenish town water supplies and revive fish stock and river ecosystems,”

Nature Conservation Council CEO Chris Gambian said. “Over-extraction by big irrigators, aided and abetted by the NSW Government, has made the impact of this drought much worse than it should have been. The drought is not yet over, and the government is at it again.

“The NSW Government’s management of the recent flows has been chaotic and poorly communicated, with three contradictory directions issued over the past week.

“On Friday, it simultaneously imposed a restriction on floodplain harvesting in the northern basin while also authorising landholders use of illegal levies and dams to capture and store overland flows. Then on Monday it announced a three-day free-for-all allowing irrigators to take as much water from the floodplain as they can pump.

“Once again the government appears to be pandering to the interests of big irrigators ahead of communities and the environment.”

Inland Rivers Network spokesperson Bev Smiles said: “These flows are the first ray of hope for the Darling River for years and should be allowed to flow through the system to Menindee Lakes and the Lower Darling.

“They are an important opportunity to reverse the extreme stress suffered by the Darling River and its dependent communities and wildlife.

“Now the government has authorised irrigators to harvest the best part of the flows in Namoi, Gwydir and Barwon rivers. The ad hoc approach to water management in western NSW has caused significant trauma to people, native fish and the riverine environment along the Darling River.

“This opportunity to revive the river system has been squandered at the behest of the powerful upstream irrigation lobby.”

MEDIA CONTACT: James Tremain, 0419 272 254

200212-MR – NSW Government opens the floodgates for irrigators to profit

IRN member honoured with Dubbo Day Award for volunteer efforts

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”.

Short-sighted politics threatens untold damage to NSW communities

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.

The Age Short sighted politics threatens untold damage to NSW communities

Water and Indigenous people: “I’m tired of being an afterthought”

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.

https://www.thefifthestate.com.au/urbanism/environment/water-and-indigenous-people-im-tired-of-being-an-afterthought/

Catchment curb could cap benefit of ‘outrageously expensive’ dam plan

By Peter Hannam

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.

https://www.smh.com.au/environment/conservation/catchment-curb-could-cap-benefit-of-outrageously-expensive-dam-plan-20191014-p530l7.html

National Party MPs call for more dams as states invest in other solutions to Australia’s water crisis

ABC News 13/10/19 – Lucy Barbour

Dams have long been a part of the National Party psyche and its members believe they’re what their constituents want, expect and demand.

But dams are a tricky business. They are ecologically controversial and can take years to reach the building phase because of lengthy environmental approvals, land purchases and business cases.

And more often than not, dams in regional Australia do not provide value for money because they are designed to benefit agriculture.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-10-13/dams-and-other-solutions-to-drought-water-crisis-nationals-mps/11593394

World Rivers Day 22nd September 2019

“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.