28 November, 2011

Murray Darling Basin Authority Draft Plan-November,2011

After a quick "skim" of the new Report I have prepared the following Questions for the Authority-

Guidelines For Questioners At MDBA Plan Meetings –November, 2011

·         What is the specific evidence on which you state the Basin is “unhealthy”, particularly after the recent wet years?
(The MDBA website states -“Our use of the water in the Basin has changed how the rivers flow.  These changes in volume and timing have led to increases in salinity, blue-green algal blooms and water quality degradation, while wetlands, red gum forests, native fish and water bird populations are decreasing (my emphasis).  All of these features are symptoms of overuse and they are what have led to the latest impetus for water reform.
What is the scientific basis for these claimed symptoms? They are inconsistent with the practical observations of many on-the-ground, knowledgeable, riparian dwellers.

·         Are you sure that you are not confusing the natural results of a typical (but extreme) Australian dry period with chronic “ill-health”?

·         Does the Authority accept that the ACF claim that the Murray Darling Basin is on the point of “eco-collapse” is nonsense?

·         Given that the Water Sharing Plan guided allocations saw a cut of over 4,000 GL  in extractions during the recent drought and given that critical human needs and assessed environmental needs have first priority; what is the point of the Government buying entitlements? Won’t this only prevent production when water is plentiful?

·         Does the Authority acknowledge the point made by Harvard Professor John Briscoe that Australia achieved a rare accomplishment in keeping the Murray River flowing when run-off was at all time (since European settlement) record lows? Does the Authority acknowledge that this was achieved by the existence of upstream storages, the Snowy River diversions and strict limits on irrigation extractions? Does this not call for additional storages to better spread the extreme variability of our river flows?

·         When, during the Millennium Drought, there was no water available for irrigation extractions or to maintain the Lower Lakes in there unnatural fresh water state, what was the logic for not allowing sea water to enter the Lower Lakes as it always did under such dry conditions before the Barrages were built?

·         Why does the report not examine the management of Snowy Scheme diversions, particularly the use of Eucumbene Dam, the largest storage feeding the Basin? Evidence suggests that Snowy Hydro are not required to give sufficient weight to water conservation and supply considerations, consistent with their hydro electricity generation objectives.

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