Is the Murray-Darling Basin Plan on track to deliver its outcomes? Yes, the Basin Plan has been signed as an overall framework, but the devil is in the detail as it is gradually implemented on the ground! Questions are being raised about whether the process of implementing the Plan has the potential to compromise the effectiveness of its outcomes. Genuine concerns are coming from many directions, from groups and individuals with long connections with the Basin, great knowledge and experience, and objective evidence to back their concerns.
Recently, the Chair of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority wrote an article dismissing these concerns as ‘opportunistic partisan antics’ and ‘political grandstanding’. However, concerns raised include the very slow rate of action to deal with serious compliance issues and water theft, the failure to challenge NSW regulations which allow irrigators to take unsustainable volumes from the Upper Darling, and the lack of measures put in place to ensure environmental flows reach their targets. These are real and important concerns raised by qualified people concerned about continuing compromise of environmental health in the Plan and they deserve more attention than being dismissed as ‘antics’ and ‘grandstanding’.
In the Murray-Darling Declaration of 5 February, twelve nationally-eminent scientists and economists called for a temporary halt and an audit of investments before further implementation actions. Shortly after, legislation to amend the Basin Plan and reduce water recovery in the Northern Basin by 70 GL was blocked in the Senate.
Another piece of legislation currently before the Federal Parliament proposes reducing water recovery in the Southern Basin by 605 GL. The Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists has raised serious documented concerns about the projects designed to deliver these savings. The Senate vote is due on 8 May and Senators will be subject to even heavier lobbying to block this change until the projects have been improved.
Do we need a temporary halt and audit of progress to date? These issues will be discussed at two public meetings in Adelaide in advance of the Senate vote. Details of time, location and booking are in the flyers attached (see hyperlinks below).
Everyone interested is welcome to attend, to hear the background to the concerns being raised and opportunities to influence the decision-making process.
5 April 2018 Hydrological Society of SA Forum
Tracking Progress on the Murray-Darling Basin Plan
19 April 2018 Conservation Council of SA Forum
Implementing the Murray-Darling Basin Plan
HELP KEEP THE BASIN PLAN ON TRACK!!