TJ Ryan Foundation board member, John Guiggin, and colleagues write in The Conversation (5.2.18) that the billions spent on water-efficient irrigation projects as part of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan have done little for the river system's health.
'More than five years after the Murray-Darling Basin Plan was implemented, it’s clear that it is not delivering on its key objectives.
'The Basin Plan, at its core, is about reducing the amount of water that can be extracted from its streams, rivers and aquifers. It includes an environmental water strategy to improve the conditions of the wetlands and rivers of the basin. The Productivity Commission will conduct a five-yearly inquiry into the effectiveness of the Basin Plan in 2018.
'It is high time to explain what is really going on in the Basin and water recovery. For this reason we have all signed the Murray-Darling Basin Declaration to explain what has gone wrong, to call for a freeze on funding for new irrigation projects until the outcomes of water recovery has been fully and independently audited, and to call for the establishment of an independent, expert body to deliver on the key goals of the Water Act (2007).
'... There is no time to waste for the Murray-Darling Basin, its rivers, environments, traditional owners, and communities. Our declaration makes it clear what must be done. The federal and state governments must be held to account and actually deliver what is needed for the basin, before the next big drought causes irreversible damage.'