We have campaigned for increased flows in northern Victoria’s rivers for more than 15 years and have been following the development and implementation of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan since 2007. Environment Victoria holds the position that the Plan should be implemented as agreed on time and in full, with the recovery of the full volume of environmental water, that is 3,200 GL by 2024.
However water recovery is currently stalled at 2,047 GL, just under two thirds of the total, which is itself the minimum required to restore Australia’s greatest rivers to health. The draft determination to increase the overall SDL by 605 GL will prevent any further water recovery and halt the Plan in its tracks. We are deeply concerned that this determination will cause the Plan to fail to meet its objectives for the environment and for water-dependent communities of all types, from fish to farmers.
When the SDL adjustment process was incorporated into the Basin Plan, its Objective anticipated a package of supply, efficiency and constraints measures, and that the inclusion of efficiency and constraints measures would provide enhanced environmental outcomes. The reality has turned out to be very different. The MDBA has based its draft determination on a package of supply projects with little publicly available information on their operation, likelihood of success or environmental outcomes. The notified constraints projects are lacking in support from their proponents and the efficiency measures are a shopping list of potential projects without any serious intent to deliver. The enhanced environmental outcomes are entirely missing from consideration.
Environment Victoria requests that the MDBA withdraws its draft determination and reconsiders its approach to better reflect the Objective of the SDL adjustment and maintain an ecologically sustainable level of take.