Claims by the Victorian government that the Murray River can be restored to health by returning only 2100 GL are grossly exaggerated according to Environment Victoria.
Environment Victoria’s Healthy Rivers Campaigner Juliet Le Feuvre said today:
“The Victorian Government is working to undermine the national process to safeguard the future of the Murray Darling Basin. The proposed Plan is already inadequate and fails to meet many of the ecological targets set for the river system. Iconic red gum and black box forests on the floodplains of northern Victoria will not get the water they need to survive under the draft Plan, even at internationally recognised sites like Gunbower forest and Hattah lakes.”
“The last thing we need is for the Victorian government to cut back the volume of water for rivers even further. They are showing a callous disregard for the state of our precious river systems and ignoring the need for downstream flows to keep the Murray mouth open and flush salt from the system”
The Victorian government has undertaken hydrological modelling to compare the results of returning 2100 GL to river systems of the Murray- Darling Basin with the 2750 GL proposed in the draft Basin Plan. It claims that the ecological outcomes are just as good as under the draft Plan. In fact the report has some key deficiencies:
• The report proposes an inequitable sharing between states of water required to maintain the health of the Coorong and keep the Murray mouth open, with Victoria contributing proportionately less water than other states.
• The 2100 GL scenario allows for a significant increase in the number of days with maximum salinity threshold (130 g/litre) in the northern lagoon of the Coorong (72 instead of 56) and a doubling of the maximum number of days with salinity over the critical threshold of 50 g/litre (160 days instead of 75). The MDBA rejected lower water recovery scenarios on the basis of unacceptable salinity outcomes in both the north and south lagoons of the Coorong .
• The report only presents results for a select number of sites on the Murray system. It assumes outcomes for all tributaries (Darling, Murrumbidgee, Goulburn etc) are the same as under the draft Plan scenario.
• The results confirm the poor outcomes achieved by the 2750 GL scenario against the MDBA’s ecological objectives.
• The report uses a very select range of indicators – it compares the number of years with successful watering events, without considering the intervals between watering events that the environment actually ends. Differences in the number of years between successful events were a key reason the MDBA rejected lower volumes of water recovery in drafting the Basin Plan.
Ms Le Feuvre concluded:
“The Federal Government and other State’s should ignore the Victorian Government’s destructive negotiating position and focus on what’s actually required to restore the river system to health. We are heartened that the MDBA is modelling 3200 GL, but until 4000 GL scenarios are modelled we’ll never know what the river system really needs to safeguard its future.”
Juliet Le Feuvre 0428 770 019