Environment Victoria says that the Murray Darling Basin (MDB) Plan needs to secure at least 4,000 billion litres (GL) of water to give the environment a fighting chance under climate change, and the Victorian Government should advocate for the plan to be strengthened, not watered down.
A Guide to the MDB Plan was released by the MDB Authority last Friday, and will be open for public consultation over the next few months. It puts forward three scenarios for increased environmental water allocations of 3,000 GL, 3,500 GL or 4,000 GL.
Environment Victoria CEO, Kelly O’Shanassy said “much of the recent criticism by irrigators ignores that fact that the plan is already a compromise. The Authority acknowledges rivers may require up to 7,600 billion litres of extra water to return to health and yet they recommend only 3,000 to 4,000 billion litres be returned to the environment.”
Ms O’Shanassy said that the Victorian Government should be looking to strengthen, not weaken the national plan. “We were disappointed by suggestions from Victorian Water Minister Tim Holding that there are better ways to address the over-allocation of water in the Murray Darling Basin than buying back water from irrigators.”
“We’d all like the Murray Darling Basin to be a magic pudding that we can keep taking from, but it’s that sort of wishful thinking that got us into this mess in the first place. We simply must return water to our rivers”.
Environment Victoria is also concerned about the unrealistic assumptions made by the Authority on the impacts of climate change.
“The Guide factors in only a three percent reduction in average flows from climate change over the next ten years, while CSIRO predictions show that in most parts of Victoria the drop is more likely to be 20 to 30 percent by 2030” said Ms O’Shanassy.
“We’re concerned that the plan seriously underestimates the impact of climate change, which won’t do the rivers or the farmers any favours as climate change bites over the next decade. It’s critical that at least 4,000 billion litres of water is returned to the Basin’s rivers to give them a fighting chance in a drier future.”
As the recent drought has shown, it’s the dry years when the environment suffers the most so it’s essential that the MDBA’s recommendations correctly factor in climate change impacts and ensure our rivers are protected under all climate change scenarios”.
For interviews contact:
Kelly O’Shanassy, CEO Environment Victoria on 0421 054 402
for Media assistance contact:
Louise Matthiesson on 0417 017 844