‘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.’