This year there has been a lot of controversy surrounding the Murray-Darling Basin Authority’s (MDBA) scientific modeling, culminating with a walk-out by the Wentworth Group in May. Environmental groups including Friends of the Earth have been demanding an independent peer review of the Basin Plan’s methodology and results for months (http://melbourne.foe.org.au/?q=bmc/news/23May11), so the MDBA finally commissioned an independent body to form a report on the Basin Plan, which will be released at the end of September.
However, this review can only investigate and report according to very specific and limiting terms of reference; it will not question critical assumptions made that underpin the scientific modeling. For example, only 18 out of 2442 key ecological sites have been used to indicate the health and water needs of the whole system – a risky assumption which needs to be properly examined, but is not being questioned by the CSIRO. Fundamentally, we doubt whether the review will answer the key question of whether the MDBA has used the best available science, as required by the Water Act 2007. We will continue to call on the MDBA to pay heed to the large body of existing scientific work which shows thatanything less than 4,000GL of environmental flows will not save the river.