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.
Unknown wonders: Barmah-Millewa forest
14 May 2013
Susan Lawler, The Conversation
Transport a winner, but others are not so happy
8 May 2013
Budget abandons outstanding environment election promises
7 May 2013
Merger puts 'fox in hen house'
11 April 2013
Peter Collins, Warrnambool Standard
DSE merger signals risk antiquated approach to environment will continue
Tuesday, 9 April 2013
Today Premier Naphine announced the merger of the Department of Sustainability and Environment and the Department of Primary Industry, as...more
Record demand for Basin water
3 April 2013
Lisa Kingsberry, ABC
Demand for water from the Murray-Darling Basin is the highest it has ever been at this time of year.
Phil Grahame, a water trader in Victoria's north-...more
Report details murky
1 April 2013
Louis Nelson, Latrobe Valley Express
THE "lack of analysis" in a scientific report used to bolster Yallourn power station's application to increase water discharge from its open cut...more
Water use soars after heatwave
14 March 2013
Jason Dowling, The Age
The water use records keep tumbling this year, with Melbourne recording another record in the past week.
With temperatures well into the...more
Change of leadership offers chance to turn over new leaf on environment
Thursday, 7 March 2013
Environment Victoria is calling on Premier Denis Napthine to rethink the Baillieu government’s ‘scorched earth’...more
Could this mean the end of the line for the plastic water bottle?
3 March 2013
David Sygall, The Age
Bottled water producers are facing increasing pressure as the product falls from favour among the industry's most loyal buyers....more
How you invest and manage your money can have a big impact on our environment. So why not take the Ethical Money Challenge, to ensure that your money is used to create the future you want?
So you’ve tried green cleaning, riding to work and eating green. You’re a real green...more
For better or worse, the Murray-Darling Basin Plan became law in November 2012. After the many trials and tribulations that went into the plan’s creation, we are now in a different phase – ...more
The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Significance is an international treaty that provides for the conservation and ‘wise use’ of wetlands and their resources. Its mission is "the...more
We all know it’s been hot this summer. Records have been dropping like flies. But we may not have noticed that it has also been dry, and this is having a dramatic impact on flows in rivers across Victoria.
One of the first things I did for a Healthy Rivers campaign was to stand on the banks of the Yarra and hand out leaflets to commuters asking them to support their politicians in returning 500 gigalitres of water to the Murray River.
That was almost 10 years ago in 2003. Last week, at...more
- 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 |
- Environment Victoria's letter to Minister Madden requesting an EES for the Sugarloaf Pipeline |
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