« Back to Publications

We need more than just extra water to save the Murray-Darling Basin

Max Finlayson and Lee Baumgartner write in The Conversation (30.6.17) about a recent report arguing that more water is needed to resurrect the health of the Murray-Darling Basin system. The authors point out, though, that simply increasing river flow alone could actually harm the Basin.

‘After a long and contentious public debate, in 2012 Australia embarked on a significant and expensive water recovery program to restore the Murray-Darling Basin’s ecosystems.

‘Despite general agreement that a certain amount of water should be reserved to restore the flagging river system, the argument continues as to whether this should be 2,750 or 3,200 gigalitres (GL) a year, and how these savings can be achieved.

‘A recent report by the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists argues that there is no conclusive evidence, after five years, that the plan is effective. The report’s authors believe that an extra 450GL of water a year needs to be recovered to save the basin.

‘There is no doubt in our minds that the Murray-Darling river system is in crisis, and the Basin Plan was vitally needed. But while we broadly agree with the Wentworth Group’s report, it’s a mistake to focus on water volume alone.

‘Without giving equal attention to improving water quality and building critical ecological infrastructure, it’s possible that increasing river flows could actually harm the Basin.’

Deal on Murray Darling Basin Plan could make history for Indigenous water rights

Sue Jackson writes in The Conversation (10.5.18) about how Indigenous water rights have been overlooked in Australia for a very long time. The author suggests a bipartisan agreement on the Murray-Darling Basin Plan might change that.

‘On Monday night the Labor Party agreed to a federal government policy package intended to ensure the survival of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.

‘The proposed amendments to the plan, and the complex technical details of water allocation, have been heavily scrutinised as a politically intriguing development in the long-standing contest between allocating water for the environment or for irrigation.

‘What is less appreciated is that, if implemented, the bipartisan commitment may do more to advance the water rights of Aboriginal peoples in the Murray-Darling Basin than any other government initiative in the history of the region.

‘… These social justice measures are long overdue. Aboriginal rights are a blind spot in the country’s water governance arrangements and in its broader relationship with Indigenous peoples.’

The TJRyan Foundation does not guarantee the accuracy, currency or completeness of any information or material available on this website. The TJRyan Foundation reserves the right to change information or material on this website at any time without notice. Links from this site to external, non-TJRyan Foundation websites should not be construed as implying any relationship with and/or endorsement of the external site or its content by the TJR Foundation, nor any commercial relationship with the owners of any external site. Should any TJRyan research project be funded by an individual or organisation the source of funding will be stated beside the research report. In all other cases contributions are provided on a pro bono basis.
Receive the latest news

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Get notified about new articles

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.