Ten major environment groups from all four Basin States this afternoon emerged from a Murray-Darling Basin Authority briefing and condemned the proposal to return only 2,800GL of water to the environment.
“On the basis of today’s briefing it’s clear the MDBA are walking away from their obligation to produce a Basin Plan using the best available science,” said Jonathan La Nauze from Friends of the Earth.
“The ecological outcomes of 2,800GL are frightening: the entire South Australian floodplain has been written off and there is a very low chance that the red gums of the Goulburn, Murray and Murrumbidgee would survive,” said Mr La Nauze.
“We completely reject the Authority’s proposed 2,800GL of environmental flows as it will condemn the river system to continual decline and possible collapse,” said Chris Daley from The Wilderness Society.
“It is now urgent that Minister Burke intervene and order a fully independent peer review of the approach taken by the Authority,” said Nigel Parratt from the Queensland Conservation Council.
“Two decades of scientific research has shown nothing less than 4,000GL will prevent the demise of Red Gum forests, migratory bird populations and the basin’s 30,000 wetlands,” said Bev Smiles of the Nature Conservation Council of NSW.
“The most recent comprehensive science review conduced by CSIRO showed anything less than 4,000GL will fail the Coorong, Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth,” said Professor Diane Bell from the River, Lakes and Coorong Action Group.
“It’s now clear that irrigators efforts to weaken the plan have been successful and the MDBA have no intention of returning our ailing rivers to health,” said Juliet le Feuvre from Environment Victoria. “Unless the Federal Government intervenes we will be wasting $10 billion and a once on a life-time opportunity to put the system on a sustainable footing which will protect Basin communities for the long-term.”
“Non-extractive agriculture will be the forgotten loser in this plan,” said Mark Etheridge of the Australian Floodplain Association. “Floodplain grazing and opportunity cropping are significant contributors to the economy and they rely on natural healthy river systems to survive.”
“If the MDBA’s current approach continues it will leave future generations a legacy of salinity, acidification and species extinction, ” said Jonathan La Nauze from Friends of the Earth
The ten leading Environmental organisations said it would be impossible for them to support the current approach of the MDBA.
Jonathan La Nauze, Friends of the Earth 0402 904 251
Chris Daley, The Wilderness Society 0451 007 915
Bev Smiles, Nature Conservation Council of NSW 0428 817 282
Nigel Parratt, Queensland Conservation Council 0407 962 652
Professor Diane Bell, River, Lakes and Coorong Action Group 0427 554 194
Juliet le Feuvre, Environment Victoria 0428 770 019