Environment Victoria has expressed alarm at leaked figures suggesting the amount of water returned to rivers under the Murray Darling Basin Plan could be as low as 2400 GL.
“According to all the scientific advice we have, this will not be enough to reverse decades of degradation and restore the Murray-Darling Basin or Victoria’s northern rivers to health,” said Environment Victoria’s Healthy Rivers campaigner Juliet Le Feuvre.
“Such a low target would be a risky gamble with the future of our rivers and the communities that rely on them.
“Such a paltry amount of water for the environment isn’t enough to look after the entire river system, and will mean that some parts of the Basin will miss out. Such a low water recovery target is bad news for Victoria’s northern rivers.
“We find it extraordinary that some irrigator groups continue to complain so loudly about these new figures given the huge government investment in modernising irrigation infrastructure and the popularity among irrigators of water buyback programs.
Here in Victoria existing water-recovery programs will deliver three-quarters of what’s needed to meet Victoria’s share of this new low target with only around 300 GL more to be found.
“We also know that voluntary water buy-backs are hugely successful and popular with irrigators. In recent buyback rounds they have been lining up to sell their water.
“If the Murray Darling Basin Authority settles on such a low target for returning water to rivers, this historic opportunity to save the Murray once and for all will slip through our fingers and be just another expensive missed opportunity,” she said.
Juliet Le Feuvre, Healthy Rivers Campaigner 0428 770 019