On Monday 28 November the Murray Darling Basin Authority released a Draft Plan for winding back the over-allocation of water and restoring precious ecosystems so they can keep sustaining Australia. But the Draft Plan is a huge disappointment - it won't return enough water to save the system which means it risks wasting nearly $10 billion of public funds.
The 20-week community consultation process will go until April 2012.
You can have your say during the MDBA consultation.
It is crucial that the voice of the environment gets heard. There are no jobs on a dead river.
Tips for submissions
- Copy to us: If you are using the Authority's online form or emailing your submission, please CC it to our spokesperson Senator Sarah Hanson-Young at firstname.lastname@example.org. That way we'll know what you're thinking too.
- Include your personal stories: Let the MDBA know who you are and why it matters to you that the Basin system stays healthy. If you are one of the two million people who live within the Basin, let the Authority know that you're relying on it to get this right and that means bold reforms.
- Keep it simple and clear: You don't have to be an expert to make a meaningful contribution. Don't worry about numbers or lingo - just tell the Authority what issues matter to you. The Basin is Australia's food bowl and one of our national icons, so no matter where you live your voice is important.
Some points you might like to consider
- The Water Act and basic common sense require that the Plan should set out to achieve the crucial ecological targets and be based on the best available science. Concerned scientists and Basin advocates have been saying for months that the Authority is massaging its science into a more politically expedient shape. Now even the CSIRO report - who were tasked by the Authority to do a strategically limited peer-review - says that the Draft Plan won't achieve more than 55% of the environmental goals! If this does not fill you confidence you could demand that the science behind the Draft Plan must be subject to further independent review.
- The Guide to the Plan in 2010 modelled three different scenarios of water returns to the environment - 3000G, 3500G, and 4000GL. Scientists insist that 4000GL is the minimum amount that can save the Basin System. If it turns out the 2750GL settled on by the Authority is not enough to save the system, what will it mean to your community?
- The Plan must ensure that there is enough flow to flush the salt and pollutants through the Murray so the water is usable and the Murray Mouth is kept open at least 97% of the time. As the Draft Plan stands, the Mouth will only stay open for 90% or less of days, which means our world famous Coorong and Lowers Lakes will continue to die out.
- The Plan must halt the decline of waterbirds, fish, red gums, flora and fauna, reduce blue-green algae outbreaks and improve water quality. Tell the Authority about the ecosystems, communities and industries at risk in your area.
- The doubling of extraction from groundwater resources sounds like a blue-print for coal seam gas mining. Also, the Draft Plan does not take into account any changes to water run-off brought about through climate change.
- The Minister and the Authority are saying that there are certain physical constraints (like bridges or private property) that mean the volume of returned flow has to be kept low. But we have an allocation of $5.8 billion set aside for putting in infrastructure to address some of these problems. Do you have any local examples of how we can make changes to allow more water down the system?
- This process must give Australians value for money by finding a solution that works. It must restore key environmental assets which contribute billions of dollars each year to communities up and down the Basin. What you do you expect out of these public reforms?
Thank you for taking action!
This is one of the most important environmental issues facing Australia and your involvement will make a difference.
We will write back to you soon with updates on the community consultation process.
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