Environment Victoria Healthy Rivers campaigner Tyler Rotche said:
“This report shows water recovered for the environment has cushioned the Murray-Darling Basin from the worst impacts of drought. It’s a clear reminder why we need the Basin Plan in the first place.”
“But the water returned to the river so far is not enough to guarantee its survival.
“Over the next four years we need to complete two key components of the Basin Plan – returning water to the river and ensuring that water can reach floodplains and wetlands. In other words, water recovery and constraints relaxation.
“For water recovery, we need open tender buybacks rather than untested and expensive efficiency projects. For nourishing the floodplain, we need to focus on constraints relaxation rather than dubious offset projects.
“What the Basin Plan evaluation makes clear is that we’re faced with a changing climate as well as the fast-paced restructuring of regional economies.
“This is a critical moment for talking about how we build resilient communities in the Basin, what those economies look like, and how we ensure that our unique freshwater ecosystems have the best chance of surviving and adapting to climate change.
“A drying climate is already forcing changes to regional economies. Instead of blaming water recovery through the Basin Plan, the task ahead is to re-think how to support regional towns in a drier future.”