Yesterday the MDBA revealed that key water engineering projects are unlikely to be finished on time, leading to a shortfall of between 190 and 315 gigalitres (GL) in the 605 GL adjustment of the Basin Plan’s sustainable diversion limit. Environment Victoria CEO Jono La Nauze said in response:
“Let’s call these what they are – dubious offset projects put forward by state governments to shirk responsibility for returning more water to rivers.”
“As MDBA Chief Executive Andrew McConville points out, the irrigation sector was credited with this extra 605GL offset five years ago and have had the benefit of this water ever since. Meanwhile, the river is still waiting for its side of the bargain
“Given there’s been so little progress so far, you have to ask yourself if the whole idea was cooked up as a delaying tactic to avoid delivering what our rivers really need – more water for fish, birds and native plants to survive future droughts.
“Scientists and conservation groups have been saying for years that these projects are based on dodgy science and will never be delivered on time, if at all – now it seems we’ve been proven right.
“This delay in either recovering or offsetting water means that the environmental impacts of the last drought were more severe than they would otherwise have been, and the same will happen again with the next drought if Tanya Plibersek caves in to Victoria and NSW and allows even further delays beyond the 2024 deadline.
“The federal government needs to draw a line in the sand and say if these projects do not deliver their supposed water savings by the agreed deadline, then the water should come from a method that does actually work – buying it back from willing sellers.”
On the tenth anniversary of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, peak conservation groups covering every basin state are also calling on governments to revive Australia’s biggest river system by following a new five point vision.
Greg Foyster, Media and Content Manager