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.
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...
River health threatened by grazing licence renewal says Environment Victoria
8 October 2014
Napthine government misused funds designed to protect Victoria’s rivers and creeks
18 September 2014
Environment Victoria has today demanded answers from the Napthine Government who have failed to spend a key environmental...more
Napthine Government goes to water on environmental levy
25 June 2014
The Napthine Government has failed to spend a dedicated environmental levy on its proper purpose of river protection and restoration, says a...more
New research finds Victoria’s future economic strength lies in protecting natural assets
19 June 2014
Victoria could create 225,000 new jobs and boost economic activity in key sectors by 22 per cent over the coming 15 years through protecting the state’s natural...more
Federal Budget takes the axe to climate and environment protection and Coalition’s environment credentials
13 May 2014
Environment Victoria has described this evening’s Federal Budget as permanently damaging, both to the environment, but also to the Coalition’...more
Environment protection and programs slashed in State Budget
6 May 2014
With massive cuts to environmental programs and a failure to honor its 2010 election commitments, Environment Victoria has described today’s State Budget as backwards looking and damaging for the state...more
Wimmera River health information online
26 February 2014
Matt Coughlan, Wimmera Mail-Times
A NEW online database released by Environment Victoria will provide information on the health of the Wimmera’s rivers.
The interactive maps, or ‘...more
Our Rivers, Our Lifeblood: New online atlas tracks the health of Victoria's rivers
25 February 2014
Environment Victoria is today launching Our Rivers, Our Lifeblood, a new web-based atlas and campaign which summarises the issues facing Victoria’s rivers catchment by...more
The Victorian Government refuses to delay the water plan as demanded by environmental groups
29 January 2014
Chris McLennan, Weekly Times
PUBLIC forums will start today on new state water laws after the Victorian Government refused demands from environmental...more
Our new Campaigns Director, Alex White, starts today. Here's what he has to say about why he came to Environment Victoria.
Back in 2012, I spent three months working on the Obama campaign in Boston and New Hampshire. The locals, as well as being bemused by my hard-to-understand...more
On 29 November Victorians will head to the polls to cast judgement on the Napthine Government. With just 100 days to go until polling day Environment Victoria CEO Mark Wakeham takes a looks at the hot environment issues this state election.
The Baillieu-led Coalition took office in...more
Victoria’s rivers are in trouble. We are taking too much water out, letting too much pollution in and degrading our riverbanks by allowing livestock unrestricted access.
These problems are well documented and have been long acknowledged by government.
Despite this, the...more
We owe so much to trees: the air we breathe, the food we eat, the paper you’re reading this on… Ok, got you with that one, but the list goes on!
The Commonwealth Water Act, which came into operation in 2008, is ground-breaking environmental legislation. For the first time it put environmental protection at the centre of water management in the Murray-Darling Basin, and a key objective is that water should be managed in the national...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 |