Environmentalists have condemned the new Murray Darling Basin Plan following a meeting on Tuesday with the Murray Darling Basin Authority.
Coorong, Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth Action Group (CLLMMAG) chair Diane Bell was among 10 environmental group representatives to receive a briefing from the Authority on the content of the new Basin Plan, which is now widely expected to return about 2800 gigalitres of water to the river system.
The controversial Guide to the Murray Darling Basin Plan, released last year, recommended between 3000GL and 4000GL of increased flows were needed to return the system to health.
According to Professor Bell, the new plan will not save the lower reaches of the basin.
“The most recent comprehensive science review conducted by CSIRO showed anything less than 4000GL will fail the Coorong, Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth,” she said.
Other groups at the briefing also slammed the new plan.
The Wilderness Society of South Australia declared the plan a death sentence for the River Murray, Environment Victoria said the newest version of the plan showed irrigators had successfully weakened the plan to a point where it would no longer improve the system’s health, while the Australian Floodplain Association said non-extractive agriculture would also suffer under the plan.
South Australian River Murray, Water and Environment Minister Paul Caica said yesterday he was yet to see the plan but, if the 2800GL figure was accurate, it was worrying for South Australia.
“In essence we’re concerned that 2800GL will not result in fulfilling the requirements of the Water Act,” Mr Caica said.
Mr Caica said the State Government was eagerly awaiting the release of the Draft Murray Darling Basin Plan in coming weeks and, regardless of its content, it would be subject to rigorous analysis.
“That figure is speculative, we need to do an analysis … we want to make sure that it is underpinned by the best science.”