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10, October 2010

The Murray Darling Basin Authority Guide to the Basin Plan released on Friday was slammed as an audacious grab for water with little benefit to the environment while condemning communities in the basin to a bleak future.

“The plan to take a minimum of 3000 gigalitres extra for the environment will see 2000 gigalitres consigned to the Lower Lakes propping up a man-made artificial environment” said Max Rheese, executive director of the Australian Environment Foundation.

“The barrages should be opened to return the lakes to a natural environment.

“Ignoring the history of the lower lakes while putting Living Murray Icon sites upstream such as the Barmah-Millewa forests at risk through choosing between the two, as suggested by MDBA CEO Rob Freeman on Friday, is a poor environmental outcome” said Mr Rheese.

Barrages between the Lower Lakes and the Coorong have maintained an artificial level of fresh water that local communities have utilised, but with decreased Murray River flows the ecology of the lakes has changed.  

The Australian Environment Foundation pointed to last week’s breaching of the barrages in the Lower Lakes, because of increased natural flow events, as evidence of the natural variability of Basin Rivers.

“In an ideal world more water at the Murray mouth would be applauded by all” said Mr Rheese “but depriving the Macquarie Marshes, the Barmah forest and wetlands along the Murrumbidgee of environmental flows is not the right choice to make.

“If current inflows are accepted as the benchmark for the future then flows to the Lower Lakes should be prioritised below sustaining upstream communities, food production and natural environment sites.

“The present government were happy to accept expert advice that the Murray River required 1500 gigalitres of extra water and many saw that as achievable with some reform.  This new Basin Plan is simply not reasonably achievable” concluded Mr Rheese.
- ENDS –

The Murray: A fresh perspective         Media Contact: Max Rheese 0428 621320

The Australian Environment Foundation (AEF) is a not-for-profit, membership-based environment organisation having no political affiliation.  The AEF is a different kind of environment group, caring for both Australia & Australians.  Many of our members are practical environmentalists – people who actively use and also care for the environment.  We accept that environmental protection and sustainable resource use are generally compatible. For more information about the AEF visit www.aefweb.info


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