Save the Murray
The Murray River's the lifeblood of our country - it supports our people, wildlife and economy – and it’s in serious trouble.
The mighty Murray - and the rivers that flow into it - have been teetering on the brink of collapse. For far too long, we've been taking too much water out of them. By the end of the last drought, 75 percent of wetlands in Victoria had disappeared, more in some areas, native fish numbers were down by 90 percent and red gum forests were dying. Something has to change if they're to survive future droughts.
Recent rains and floods have provided the Murray with some welcome relief. River Red Gums are drinking deeply, wetlands are glistening and cacophonies of waterbirds are raising clutches of chicks. We’d love to see it stay that way.
But nothing and no one can survive on one decent drink every twenty years. If the Murray is going to survive the next big dry it needs water put back into the system. 4000 billion litres, to be precise.
And now, after a decade of hard work, we finally have a national plan to put most of that water back into the Murray. The final version of the Basin Plan allows for 2750GL to be returned to the environment, out of the 4000GL recommended by scientists, with a provision for an additional 450GL to be returned in 2030.
So what does 2750GL mean for the environment? It doesn’t provide the protection needed for species in jeopardy. In many places we’ll have flooding for too short a time for birds to breed and native fish will still be stuck, unable to migrate or breed. Lower Lakes still have the potential to acidify, effectively becoming dead lakes and critical salinity thresholds in the Coorong will still be exceeded, wiping out local wildlife. Wetlands and floodplains will be threatened, with not enough water reaching black box woodlands. And a lack of flows is bad news for South Australia.
It’s clear then that this is not enough water, but it’s important to remember how far we’ve come. When we started campaigning for a Basin Plan, 500GL for the environment seemed like a distant goal. We’ve been up against a vigorous, self-interested campaign from some irrigator lobby groups, businesses and upstream states. So the fact that the water recovery target has increased at all is something to celebrate. There’s also the small matter that over 1500 GL has already been recovered for the environment (mainly through water purchase) and is being used right now to improve conditions for fish and birds.
The thing that has made these improvements to the Plan possible is community action – and that means all of you who signed petitions, made submissions, delivered flyers, came to meetings, called the radio station, alerted your Facebook friends, talked about the Murray at the dinner table and helped in a thousand different ways. So CONGRATULATIONS, your actions have made a difference – the amount of water to go back to the Murray is more than 5 times what it was 10 years ago – that’s a big change!
Of course it’s not the end of the story - it never is - and there’s plenty of work to be done before all that water gets back in the river. And more battles ahead to get the river what it really needs for the long term which is at least 4000 GL.
No more delays to Murray-Darling Basin Plan
Thursday 21 April 2016
A coalition of eighteen environment, Indigenous and community groups has called on State and Commonwealth governments to rule out delaying or weakening environmental...more
Senate inquiry misses the mark on Basin Plan
Thursday 17 March 2016
The Senate Select Committee on the Murray-Darling Basin Plan has degenerated into farce with dissenting reports and disputed recommendations, Environment Victoria said...more
Andrews Government river plan welcomed
Tuesday 15 December 2015
Today’s announcement of a new plan to improve the health of rivers and streams across Victoria by limiting livestock access to riverbanks...more
New water report identifies next steps for Andrews Government
Sunday 13 December 2015
Victoria needs a fresh approach if it is to become a leader in protecting its rivers and saving and reusing water, according...more
Buyback cap threatens rivers - and Howard's legacy
28 May 2015
The Abbott Government’s proposed legislation to cap water buybacks is a major threat to the Murray-Darling Basin Plan and trashes John Howard’s legacy, says Environment Victoria....more
Environment Victoria calls on all parties to get cows out of our rivers
26 November 2014
Environment Victoria will today inflate a giant cow in central Ballarat as part of its Cut the Crap campaign to highlight the issue of cows trampling and polluting the state’s rivers...more
Environment Victoria welcomes first step in getting cows out of our rivers
18 November 2014
Environment Victoria has welcomed the Napthine government announcement of an extra $20million for fencing livestock out of public land on river banks.
Cut the crap – Environment Victoria inflates a giant cow on the banks of the Barwon River in Geelong
11 November 2014
Environment Victoria will today inflate a giant cow on the banks of the Barwon River in Geelong as part of its...
Cut the crap – Environment Victoria calls on parties to get cows out of our rivers
31 October 2014
Environment Victoria will today inflate a giant cow on the banks of the Yarra to highlight the issue of cow trampling and polluting the state...
It's a public consultation trifecta! Right now, the state government and its agencies are seeking public feedback on three important things: managing our water and rivers, protecting biodiversity and looking after our River Red Gum National Parks. Here's how to have your say,...more
A whopping 440 billion litres of storm water is available for re-use every year, even under dry conditions – more than the City’s current consumption of around 400 billion litres. Add to that the more than 400...more
While the word ‘inquiry’ might conjure up images of people sitting in a stuffy room speaking legalese, the revelations of the inquiry into coal mine rehabilitation have been anything but boring. In my role as Safe Climate Campaign Manager, I have been representing Environment Victoria at the...more
The Murray-Darling Basin Plan is really quite simple – it’s a $13billion investment in river health and sustainable water use. Yet it is subject to a constant barrage of criticism from user groups and political attempts to undermine its environmental outcomes.
Environmentalists and farmers are sometimes in opposing camps, but not when it comes to fencing off river banks.
The Victorian Farmers Federation recently suggested the Victorian Government should make greater use of the environmental levy on water bills to pay for riverbank restoration...more
- Victoria: green and growing |
- Water Security, Healthy Rivers: Our Vision for Melbourne |
- An Audit of Seven Environmental Bulk Entitlements – Recommended, Planned, and Actual Release of Environmental Water to Victoria’s Stressed Rivers |
- Submission to 2009 Biennial Assessment of progress in Implementation of the National Water Initiative |
- Environment Victoria’s submission to the draft Northern Region Sustainable Water Strategy |
- Inquiry into Melbourne's Future Water Supply |
- Environment Victoria submission to Environment Effects Statement for the Victorian Desalination Project |
- Submission to the EPBC investigation of the Sugarloaf Pipeline |
- Environment Victoria submission to Project Impact Assessment of the Sugarloaf Pipeline Proposal |
- Submission to Northern Region Sustainable Water Strategy Discussion Paper |