Thursday, 19 January 2012

Wentworth Group calls revised Murray-Darling Basin Plan 'disgraceful'

The Draft Murray-Darling Basin Plan should be withdrawn because it does not provide the information required to make an informed decision on the future of the river system.
(Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists, STATEMENT ON THE 2011 DRAFT MURRAY-DARLING BASIN PLAN, January 2012) 

The science used to establish the evidence for the 2,750 GL reduction is not only absent from the documentation, but even more disgraceful is that the science for the 2,750 GL reduction is not accorded the scientific scrutiny of transparent independent review.
It is impossible to assess the ecological outcomes from a reduction to extractions of 2,750 GL from the information in these tables. Subsequently it is impossible to assess the ecological implications for Ramsar sites, wetlands listed on the Directory of Important Wetlands of Australia as well as Commonwealth, State or Territory listed threatened species and/or ecological communities. Without the information to assess this, it is impossible to determine whether the draft Basin Plan complies with the Water Act.
There has been a significant investment of tax-payers money in the science of water management - both within the Murray-Darling Basin Authority and other institutions such as CSIRO, the e-Water CRC and the Murray-Darling Freshwater Research Centre. This scientific effort is more than sufficient to produce a high quality plan.
The Authority has either refused to take this information into account in setting the reduction targets or has chosen not to publish these results. If a commercial operation tried this sort of trick on the community in an Environmental Impact Statement it would be thrown out well before it saw the light of day.
In the absence of this critical information on the volumes of water needed to restore the health of the basin, it is impossible for the community, science or Parliament to understand its implications or have confidence it has any prospect of delivering a healthy working river.
The Australian community and our Parliamentary representatives have a right to this information and this statutory Authority has a responsibility to use this science when it develops a plan for restoring the long- term health of the Murray-Darling Basin. (STATEMENT ON THE 2011 DRAFT MURRAY-DARLING BASIN PLAN, page10)

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