Murray-Darling Basin Plan

Murray-Darling Basin Plan

Everybody needs to have healthy rivers. No-one wins when our rivers die. And what’s been happening
for a long time now is we’ve pulled so much water
out of the rivers that they’re living
as though it’s drought, ages before the drought itself
actually arrives. NARRATOR: Australia’s great
river system, the Murray-Darling, is vital to the health of the driest
inhabited continent on earth. The Murray-Darling Basin Authority was
established by the Australian Government to set the minimum requirement
of environmental water needed to keep the system sustainable. Following extensive consultations
with key groups throughout the Basin and over many years,
the Authority proposed a target of environmental flows
to restore the river to health. What you get for communities,
out of a Basin-wide plan, is for the first time enough water
held back for environmental purposes to make sure that the rivers themselves
and the wetlands around them remain healthy. NARRATOR: The target provides for the equivalent of 2,750 gigalitres
of surface water to be returned to the environment
to benefit such important sites as the Lower Lakes and Coorong, Hattah Lakes and Yanga National Park, the Macquarie Marshes, Basin rivers, and other important habitats. I think we all understand that
in any system, in any walk of life, a balanced approach
makes a lot of sense, and that’s the way it is too
with rivers. We know that over many, many years,
we got the balance a bit out of whack, and there’s been good effort
in repairing that balance and rectifying it
over the last 20 or so years, but we know
there’s a bit more to be done. NARRATOR: The Government wanted to
achieve better environmental outcomes through increased environmental flows. Recently it announced $1.7 billion
to remove key constraints and recover an additional
450GL of water for the environment by 2024
through infrastructure projects. Put simply, it means more water. And more water means better
environmental outcomes. TONY BURKE: The Murray-Darling Basin is the largest integrated
production asset from a farming perspective
in the nation. There’s nothing like it. It spans all the way – Queensland,
New South Wales, the ACT, Victoria and then through to South Australia. NARRATOR: Over the years,
we’ve changed how the rivers run. We’ve built dams, we’ve changed the
seasonal flows to meet irrigation needs. More water now stays in the channel, less gets through to the lower reaches
and out to sea. We’ve changed the natural relationship
between our rivers and the floodplains. In a dry, arid continent like ours,
water is everything and getting water policy right in a way that’s sustainable
for the long term is exactly what a continent like ours
needs. NARRATOR: The Murray-Darling Basin contains some of the country’s
most diverse and rich natural environments. It is home to some two million people and is a critical cultural feature
of many Aboriginal communities. It provides habitat for 95 threatened
species of animals and fish that are dependent on its water and is critical to Australia’s economy and food production. TOM HATTON: The best climate science
that we have on offer suggests that it is quite likely that in the next 20 to 30 years
the Basin could be, on average, roughly 10 or 11% drier which is quite significant in a Basin
where the flows of the rivers are already somewhat compromised. NARRATOR: The volume of water that flows
through the Basin’s rivers is much lower and more variable than other great
river systems around the world. More water flows through the Amazon River in just one day than travels through the River Murray in a year. Because of the millennium drought, vast amounts of salt
could not be flushed out to sea and acidity threatened some areas. TONY BURKE: The key to being able
to get better outcomes on salinity is to be able to get the extra volume
down the river. Salt discharge is a critical issue here and it’s often not appreciated upstream that there is a massive
environmental service that the extra water for the environment
provides in terms of getting the salinity
out of their part of the river and ultimately sending it out to sea. There’s ongoing pressure in the river
from salinity. As the rivers dry up through extended
droughts and withdrawal of water, that also creates an acidity problem. And in the past ten years,
we’ve seen the emergence of some very serious acidification
of parts of the river. LYNDAL CURTIS: Here is the Minister,
Tony Burke. (Applause) The game changer came in 1991. It should have been 1981 when the mouth
of the Murray closed for the first time but that once again only impacted
on one State. But it was in 1991
when the game changer arrived and a new player turned up
to the negotiating table. In 1991, the new player arrived
with a blue-green algae outbreak that went for a thousand kilometres and the environment turned up
to the negotiating table and proved to be more ruthless
and less compromising than any of the States. The environment turned up to the
negotiating table in 1991 and said, ‘If you’re going to manage the river
this way, then none of you can have the water.’ Effectively,
the rivers decided collectively that if we were going
to manage the water as though it stopped
at State boundaries, then the water was willing to stop. Up until now, we’ve never taken
a step back and said, ‘OK, for the health of the whole Basin,
where do we need to get to, what are the volumes required, what are the methods of management
that are required?’ So up until now, communities have been
asked to do a little bit more and then we come back a few years later and we ask them to do
a little bit more again. This is the first time we’ve had
the experts take a step back and say, ‘Basin-wide, what’s required?’ That gives communities a certainty
that they need, but also then means
we can get about knowing that we have a sustainability benchmark that can see us through
for the years ahead. NARRATOR: The Commonwealth’s
Water Act 2007 was followed by an agreement between
the Australian Government and the Basin states
to fix the imbalance between water taken for the environment
and water taken for human use. I’ll never forget,
I’d been in the portfolio I reckon for about a fortnight, when meetings that were being called
for the purposes of sharing information looked on the TV
as though they were closer to riots. And the passion and anger
that was coming out of communities for a document that, you know,
had come out independently was a really, really strong level
of concern. Look, I think at the heart of it, there were some people
who were opposed to the reform, but by and large I think the anger
within those communities was because people were saying, ‘If you’re going to fix
the health of the river, there are other ways of doing it
that don’t destroy our town.’ DONNA STEWART:
The first guide was, you know, ‘This is it, this is what
we’re giving you and you do it,’ and we were talked at, didn’t have
the opportunity to have input when the Authority first came around. This is an entirely different approach and that’s why it’s getting
the reception that it is up here. Anybody who says
that the objective of the reform is somehow to return the Murray-Darling
back to its natural state is talking a different language to me. We have a working Basin,
we will always have a working Basin, and what I want to make sure
is that that working Basin is as healthy as it can possibly be. Without a plan, we will fail. Let’s agree and accept it now –
no plan takes us nowhere. NARRATOR: Farmers and rural communities felt productive capacity
was being threatened, which would endanger livelihoods and have adverse consequences for
businesses, jobs and house prices. Australia’s ability to grow the food
it needs to feed itself was also seen as being put at risk. TONY BURKE: I listened to the messages, and I tried to use that anger that
communities were feeling to say, ‘Well, how can we find a way of still
achieving the benchmark of the reform that works with communities?’ and I do believe
that’s where we’ve landed. The water doesn’t respect boundaries as it goes from one State to another, so we need to run the Murray-Darling
Basin as a Basin-wide system. And what that means is you look across
the needs of the whole Basin and you say, ‘How much water do we need
to reserve for environmental purposes to be able to keep the system healthy
Basin-wide?’ And only a national plan can do that. NARRATOR: The aim is to restore
our rivers to health and ensure strong regional communities
and sustainable food production by striking the right balance
between water for the environment and water for people. TOM HATTON: From an ecological
point of view, a healthy Basin is one where
the floodplains get watered every few years, at least, where the natural cycling of nutrients
and salt is in a good balance, where feral animals and weeds
don’t greatly distort the ecological balance
in the river system itself. From a social point of view, those values are very important,
culturally, aesthetically, spiritually. So is making money. And getting that balance
is also important. NARRATOR: The plan balances water
for the environment and for people to drink and to use
for agriculture and for other purposes. The equivalent of 2,750 gigalitres
per annum of surface water will be returned to the environment
by 2019. The Plan also means
that within the next 12 months, a constraints management strategy
will be put in place. Removing the capacity constraints
then allows us to use the extra 450 gig
for large environmental events, which means we can reach
some higher wetlands, which means we can get
some better inundations into those environmental sites. CRAIG KNOWLES: We know
that there are opportunities to look at some of the constraints in the system as they’re called, assume they can be fixed, removed, altered
to use less water for example, to achieve the same environmental
outcomes. And so, you can do that
by investing in engineering solutions, which you see up and down the Basin. TONY BURKE: The Authority
have delivered a plan which has the figure 2,750
as the number in the plan. That is the number
for environmentally held water once they’ve done the calculations,
under current constraints of what they believe should be the environmentally sustainable
level of take. Now, I’ve always said that I thought
the environmental outcomes of 2,750 fell short of what this reform
should be able to achieve, and there’s a mechanism that allows me
to improve on that, but I’ll get to that in a moment. In fairness to the Authority, there is a reason why 2,750 is the
number they have recommended, and that is that
once you go beyond 2,750 with the constraints
that are currently in the system, for extra gigalitres of water,
you don’t get a significant environmental improvement. Those constraints
are things like river rules that prevent you from releasing
dam water beyond certain levels, channels where if you try
to put more water than the capacity of a channel allows, instead of the water going down
the system, it just goes out. These capacity constraints
create a challenge in using higher volumes of water, and therefore the Authority, having to look at the system
as it currently stands, quite rightly said,
‘Within those current constraints, 2,750 is the number that we arrive at, and that has a series
of social, economic and environmental consequences.’ If we work on the basis that you take,
for example, there are 18 different targets
of river flow within the Murray – the flow targets. Current status quo, before we had
any environmental water, none of the 18 were being met. At 2,750, 11 of the 18 get met. But if we are able to release those
capacity constraints that I described, and put the extra volume in
that I’ll refer to in a moment, we go to 17 out of 18 of those
flow level targets being reached. So, the mechanism that’s in the plan
says this – at 2,750, there are environmental,
social and economic consequences. If governments can interact
with the plan and improve any of those without sacrificing the other outcomes,
then they’re allowed to do that. That means
there will be State governments that look at the 2,750 figure and the mechanism within it and say, ‘How can we achieve
the environmental outcomes without requiring so much buy-back?’ NARRATOR: Some bridge heights
may need to be raised, outlets from water storages enlarged, and flood easements
purchased from landowners. CRAIG KNOWLES: What’s left to be done
will be done by sensibly using water, investing in infrastructure, looking at the opportunity to strive
for efficiencies, making sure environmental water is used
as effectively as it can be. TOM HATTON: It is so important now
that we have a chance to restore
some of the flows in the river, that we drought-proof
that river a little bit more than we have in the last decades,
that we restore some flow, particularly to get ready
for those years when the droughts will come back. NARRATOR: An adjustment mechanism
built into the Plan will enable
the sustainable diversion limit to be changed in ways
that provide benefits to the environment and communities. The Plan allows the States to come up
with projects to achieve the desired
environmental benefits but use up to 650 gigalitres less water. My view is if a farmer’s smart enough to be able to manage the resources
up and down over time depending on what’s happening, we should be able to as communities
and governments as well, and that’s what our plan reflects. NARRATOR: Between now and 2016, projects that deliver equivalent
environmental outcomes with less water can be identified and fully considered. In 2016, a final decision will be made
about any change to the SDL that will be allowed
as the result of these projects. By 2019, the 2,750-gigalitre benchmark
should have been achieved. By 2024, the additional 450GL
will have been recovered and all the new environmental benefits
from the additional water will have been met without any
disadvantage to irrigation communities. TONY BURKE:
We talk about infrastructure upgrades and all the different language we use, but effectively what we’re saying is,
the Government helps pay for better equipment
than what people currently have. TOM HATTON: With the Basin Plan building
on recent changes in entitlements, putting more water in the river, we are going to be in much better shape
for the next drought. This is one of those
once-in-a-generation opportunities that you have where the moment is there
that you either say, ‘We’re going to run this
as a Basin-wide system’ or, ‘We’re going to play the game of
throwing it into the too-hard basket just like generations have before us.’ I’m really proud that this is the time that Australians, people living in the
Basin and across the Parliament, seem to be willing to grab the moment
that’s in front of us and say, ‘No, we’ll be different
to the previous generations. We will get a plan in place
to run the Murray-Darling Basin as an integrated Basin-wide system.’

13 thoughts on “Murray-Darling Basin Plan

  1. How about this clown confesses that the problem is our population has grown by 8million people since we last built a dam or a water tower.

    It's a simple concept. You build dams both sides of the mountains and bore aqueducts between them. The get starved for a few years while the dams fill and then you can run environmental flows.

  2. People should make a major cut back on water. The rivers and environment will prosper. Then people can find figure out how much they can take without stalling salinity flush and without causing harm to the ecosystem.

  3. I'm a kiwi, I've travelled to outback Australia, more than most Aussies. I have camped on the Darling, been to the Diamantina etc.
    The problem is the 'love of money', it's commercial cotton growers versus traditional grazers. Cotton/ wheat makes big "ching ching" for Australian govnerments by way of taxes.
    Cattle farmers are not getting floods needed to irrigate their flood plains because the up stream cotton /wheat farmers are channelling annual surcharge flood waters into holding lakes.
    It's perfectly legal, because the governments of Queensland and NSW are allowing corporate farmers to take flood water, although this clip is from 2012 it's still happening in 2019.
    What's needed is to allow flooding, farmers take less water, take measured amounts from rivers, flood plains need to be swailled and gabioned to retain and hold back small amounts of flood water to allow it to soak into the black soil flood plain.

    In places like Loith, the floods could last 3 months, now they occur less often.
    I noticed cash crop farmers use a border dyke or syphon flood system to irrigate their cotton and wheat, this appears to be inefficient, maybe they're better off to have huge walking spray irrigators or drip line irrigation.
    The other issue with flood syphon irrigating paddocks is it can over cool the soil so there is slower plant growth. However the flooding system does help remove soil salt build up, and I'm told farmers do try and recycle their water.
    I'm sure everyone involved is working hard to solve their water problems, hopefully all involved realise more can be done with water harvesting, conservation and storage methods. They should look at Israel for more technology in this area.

  4. Every house and property in these areas must have swales and terracing styles of landscapes to captures water,installs solar power water condenser to collects water from the air,frequently uses cloud seeding technologies to brings rain ,Don’t wait for heaven,this is a dry country,punishment for farms and industry discharging fertilisers and waste into the river systems.

  5. "The outlook for the Murray-Darling Basin is bleak if it doesn't rain."

    Quotes: “The environmental perspectives in the Murray-Darling Basin, especially in the north, are extremely complex, and there will be little opportunity for environmental flows if there is no rain until the end of 2018-19,” the Murray-Darling Basin Authority warned.

    “Next year, the focus will be on“ securing drought shelters and preventing irreversible species loss ”.

    I will restore the water level in the Murray-Darling basin due to the production of fresh water guaranteed for 7 years – 15% per year. It doesn't matter if it rains or not. The level of replenishment of rivers will be measured by 15-dimensional rulers, placed along the entire length of the rivers.

    In order to determine the amount of work, and the cost of a ton of water produced, and create the number of working teams to work in Australia – a preliminary meeting is needed. I am waiting for experts from Australia at the Khmelnitsky NPP.

    Sincerely, environmental programs developer, Victor Rodin. Ukraine. Khmelnitsky NPP. Tel. Kiev Star: 961336344. Mail: [email protected], [email protected]

    — — —

    «Перспективы бассейна Мюррея-Дарлинга мрачны, если не пойдет дождь».

    Цитаты: «Перспективы окружающей среды в бассейне Муррей-Дарлинг, особенно на севере, чрезвычайно сложны, и до конца 2018-19 года не будет практически никаких возможностей для экологических потоков, если не будет дождя», Управление бассейна Мюррей-Дарлинг предупредил.

    «В будущем году основное внимание будет уделено «обеспечению убежищ от засухи и предотвращению необратимой утраты видов».

    Я восстановлю уровень воды в бассейне Мюррея-Дарлинга за счёт производства пресной воды гарантированно за 7 лет – по 15% в год. Неважно, будет дожди, или нет. Уровень пополнения рек будет измеряться 15-ю мерными линейками, расставленными по всей длине рек.

    Для того, чтобы определиться с объёмом работ, и стоимостью тонны произведённой воды, и создания количества рабочих бригад для работы в Австралии – нужна предварительная встреча. Я жду специалистов из Австралии на Хмельницкой АЭС.

  6. Once upon a time it was 3,750 kilometres(2,330 miles) long!My Hmmhmmm!See,This longest once river of Australia!!Now! All almost end up!! What does it teaches us!! Do you know that!! I am telling You! Please,dont take anything Personal!!This is My original,practical experiences,of life!! Its Called placement!!What placement!!in details!! Someone,In this world!! Says most of the times!! He married,The mostest beautiful woman on Earth! And,You,everyone might notice ,He doesn't care,Any other one's opinion,statement,to prove His words! Why! Because,its His! And He thinks,believes so like that!! Now,Think,if The Girl is married to any other Man in the Whole world,except that person who is currently her husband!! What might happen!! She might not considered or said or care such words,believes or any thing like that!! So,This is called PLACEMENT,Only the perfect placement makes You feel ,who you are,yes!! Think minutely!! So,always choose Wise,To live only,or To live a Life!!! Suppose!! You are!!Your treatment ,is very like different!! Towards every women in the Whole world!! And THERE'S TOO!!!Its very difficult,to understand,but decision can make You place as Husband no 1 or the most beautiful woman in the Whole world!!! Do you understand,what I want to say!! Just like that!! Its nothing,If you are Mr.Universe or Miss World!! Only the placement is,Such as,If One Rickshaw Pullar gets his wife a Miss World! What is the Value of that Miss World,who can't wear 100 rs.saree,or cook,or Such things which a R.P.s wife can do Best for Him!!! Yes,this is called placement!!And If One person,Famous,Rich or such like that gets a wife like Rickshaw Pullar!! What might comes or arrives in their life! Total devastation,is not it!! So again the placement is important!! Exactly!! It is!! You are My Life!! I call you,believe that! But Not perhaps anyone's if You give solitaire diamond or call princess or White dresses! Or Seaside vacations!! That doesn't matter at all!! Such like me! Also!! I might be called,Cutie no 1! Sweetest! The innocent,cuddly! Very this or that!! Which I hear almost everyone,everyday!! But still,I believe,Theres no one in the Whole world,who can love Me like You☺️! This is called placement!!! Hope,wish You understand!! Allures are everywhere,sometimes almost undeniable!! But can resist!! Yes!! I am!!!☺️, Good Night!! Sleep sound! And the Best of Your dreams!!🐦With My no chirrrrrps chirrrrrps today! Because I am not able today! For that I need not any compliment as a Princess!!☺️ without any compliment!! Or anything I mentioned! Above,I belong! Remain the Same!! As I Ever!!Now,do YOU understand,why I need not,to be Anyone 's name,shadow!! Or hide!! No-one's like Me! Can't be!! I guarantee You!! Now hope You understand,Why I can define,myself being The Most,EVERYTHING! From Someone 's Millions,billions Of FANS!!!Or Theirs!!The Most different,including My Hands!! You are The Best person to realise that!! I believe!!! Now,am I right or Right!! Always been and will be!!🙏Never Bye bye☺️… Please,Who 's going to read this,Ought not to try! Not a good idea!! At all,As I am not sooooooo aware of the Renovation of Murray darling river! Go watch the video!! Thank You🙏

  7. This whole concept of environmental flows is flawed .
    Environmentalist mumbo jumbo to interfere with good sound engineering , planning and action .
    Build the Dams .

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