Authority releases revised MDB plan
A REVISED draft management plan for the Murray-Darling Basin proposes a lower minimum allocation for environmental flows.
At the same time it also proposes a mechanism that could provide more water for the environment than initially recommended.
The revised draft plan, released by the Murray-Darling Basin Authority yesterday (Monday), seeks to balance the competing demands of irrigators, state governments and the green groups.
The plan includes a mechanism to adjust the amount of water to be returned to the environment, if environmental outcomes can be achieved with less water, Sydney media report.
Under the adjustment mechanism, the annual target could range between 2400 and 3200 gigalitres.
The previous plan recommended a figure of 2750 gigalitres.
Victoria and New South Wales believe the target should be 2100 gigalitres, while South Australia wants the target lifted to 4000 gigalitres.
There also could be a small increase in the amount of groundwater extracted from the system.
Nationals senator Barnaby Joyce described the latest plan as vague.
“There is no limit to the amount of water buybacks that can occur,” he says in a statement.
The National Irrigators Council (NIC) wants more details.
“We are disappointed that so many questions have been left unanswered,” says NIC chief executive officer Tom Chesson.
“Much more work still needs to be completed.”
State governments have three weeks to respond to the latest version of the plan.
Federal Water Minister, Tony Burke, will then approve the plan or request further changes before it is presented to federal parliament later in the year.
Greens leader Christine Milne says the proposed plan will not save the river from extreme future drought.
South Australian Greens senator, Sarah Hanson-Young, says the plan is a dud and will not stand up to legal challenge.
“It fails the river, it fails South Australia, it fails the communities that rely upon it,” she told journalists in Melbourne.
“We don’t want to see $9 billion of taxpayers’ money wasted.
“This plan is a plan for only, only the good years; it’s not a plan for drought and that’s the biggest problem.”
Senator Hanson-Young says 4000 gigalitres is the minimum requirement to rescue the basin.
She’s urged Mr Burke to reject the plan and return to the negotiating table.