Murray-Darling Basin Plan – what’s it all about?
The release of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority’s Guide to the proposed Basin Plan is a momentous event.
For the first time, serious proposals are being put forward to return significant amounts of water to the rivers of the Basin to achieve two things – a big improvement in ecological health AND a sustainable future for agricultural communities across the basin. It envisages real action to rescue our rivers and we’ve warmly welcomed it.
This is how the MDBA puts the problem that the Plan is intended to resolve:
‘Unless action is taken now, the basin and its communities do not have a long-term future and consequently face irreversible decline in the environmental health and, in turn, the economic strength of the basin. It is vital to change the balance between water for the environment and water for economic benefit in order to restore the environmental health of the Basin and preserve and enhance its long term productivity.’
Now for the nuts and bolts of what’s in the Guide to the proposed Basin Plan. You can download a copy here. The Guide was released on Friday, 8 October 2010, and is the first step in several months of public consultation leading to the development of the final Basin Plan in 2011. It puts forward three scenarios for increased environmental water allocations of 3,000 billion litres (GL), 3,500 GL or 4,000 GL.
We’ve pulled together a quick analysis of the Plan and what it means for Victoria’s northern rivers, our native fish and our beautiful ancient river red gums. Check out our snap shot here.
We think it’s a great start and it’s the first time in a long time that governments are talking about really rescuing our rivers. It could be the landmark change we have all been waiting for. But there are also problems. The Authority has already made a compromise on the environment. They conclude that the Basin needs up to 7,600 billion litres of water returned to river systems to be sure of returning them to health. But they are proposing to return only between 3,000 – 4,000 billion litres because they fear that the socio-economic impacts of returning more will be too great. On top of that, we’re concerned that the Authority has seriously under-estimated the impacts of climate change. Only the 4,000 GL scenario offers some possibility of resilience to future climate impacts. Check out our media release here.
This is a critical time for you to make your voice heard. The Plan is under attack from irrigation communities who fear for their future. Please go along to public meetings and consultation sessions run by the Authority and have your say – tell them that we need a healthy basin in order for regional communities to have a sustainable future. You can join the MDBA’s online forum here and provide feedback here. Or let the federal Water Minister Tony Burke know what you think by emailing him at Tony.Burke.MP@aph.gov.au. We’re also encouraging the Victorian government to support the Plan - so let them know what you think too by emailling Victorian Water Minister Peter Walsh and Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu.
This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to get water to our northern rivers and our beautiful River Red Gum parks. Please stick up for our rivers at this critical time.
We’ve pulled together a quick analysis of the Plan and what it means for Victoria’s northern rivers, our native fish and our beautiful ancient river red gums. Check out our snap shot here
Our submission to the Senate Inquiry into the Provisions of the Water Act 2007. Get it while it's hot
Our submission to the Murray-Darling Basin Authority’s Guide to the proposed Basin Plan. Get it here
Our submission to the Standing Committee on Regional Australia. Take a peek
Our media release... Murray Darling Basin Plan already a gamble for Victoria’s environment. Have a squizz
Please lend your support to our rivers at this critical time by reading and signing our online petition here