Victoria and New South Wales have released new criteria prioritising economic outcomes for water recovery projects under the Murray Darling Basin Plan
We all know the network of rivers in the Basin is invaluable to communities and indigenous culture. The Basin Plan was developed to restore the health of our river ecosystems after a century of over extraction brought them to the brink of collapse.
The environment was to come first because we can't survive if we kill the river.
The question begs, are water ministers acting to support all life in the Basin?
In May this the Federal Government lowered the volume of water that will be recovered for our wetlands, lakes and floodplains under the Basin Plan. This change, known as the Sustainable diversion Limit (SDL) adjustment mechanism, locked in plans to build levee banks and pumps in our State, Regional and National Parks at the same time stripping them of real water.
Tied to this motion was a plan to recover additional water from people who use it.
Since then, the Victorian Government has been pushing for funding for controversial forest infrastructure, and developing the following criteria for economic interests in Victorian irrigation districts.
The majority of the criteria relate directly to economic outcomes, which are secondary to protecting environmental values under the Basin Plan.
• Identifies potential impacts on the district and explains any benefits
• Does not directly increase the price of water
• Contributes to the current and future financial viability of irrigation districts
• Supports regional economies by not impacting on irrigation jobs now and in the future
• Does not have negative third-party impacts on the irrigation system, water market or communities
The remaining criteria focus on social, cultural and environmental values. All projects built under the SDL adjustment should meet the the following criteria.
• Is supported by the community
• Identifies and improves social and environmental outcomes and does not negatively impact them
• Identifies, protects and improves Aboriginal values.
Right now the government is seeking funding for projects to be built in our forests that do not fulfil these requirements.
Water ministers must apply the same level scrutiny to projects built in red gum forests, which are loaded with cultural history and sacred sites. Without any legislated safeguards in place, SDL adjustment projects could unearth burial grounds, middens and cultural artefacts. Trees would be removed for the construction of roads and natural hydrology of landscapes altered forever.
The Basin Plan was an agreement to use less water, to make it available to flood river landscapes like red gum forests and floodplains because we all part of mother nature, we need clean water and healthy ecosystems to survive.
Have your say!
Community consultation sessions are being held this week.
Mildura - 10 am Monday 22nd October
Swan Hill - 10 am Tuesday, 23rd October
Kerang - 6 pm Tuesday, 23rd October
Echuca - 10 am Wednesday 24th October
Shepparton - 6 pm Wednesday 24th October
Register you interest at this link for location information