Dire water situation needs urgent action

Cubbie Station, which has been allowed to cut into the riverbank and divert water into a man-made dam adjacent to the Culgoa River, is one of the great water heists of our time.

Mismanagement, disinterest, or perhaps vested interest in foreign-owned properties further north along the Darling and catchment areas which grossly misuse and, indeed, plunder water supplies for unsustainable farming practices have created this looming disaster.

 

That the NSW and federal governments are complicit through abetting or at the very least, turning a blind eye, puts us all at risk. 

GRAEME O’Neill’s article “Town on brink of disaster” (Sunraysia Daily, January 2) highlights the fulcrum upon which all future government policy must be based.

Without consistent water supply, entire regional centres will disappear, along with the industry, agriculture and lifestyle which remains the backbone of our country.

Mismanagement, disinterest, or perhaps vested interest in foreign-owned properties further north along the Darling and catchment areas which grossly misuse and, indeed, plunder water supplies for unsustainable farming practices have created this looming disaster.

And at no time has NSW Water Minister, Kevin Humphries (or indeed any predecessor) proposed a comprehensive plan to address the situation.

That Cubbie Station, for example, which has been allowed to cut into the riverbank and divert water into a man-made dam adjacent to the Culgoa River, is one of the great water heists of our time.

That the NSW and federal governments are complicit through abetting or at the very least, turning a blind eye, puts us all at risk.
It is inconceivable that any government should merely proclaim, through its website, that “without drought-relieving rains, land-holders on the lower Darling [should] expect to run out of water some time in autumn”

The reported plan to build bunds to assist with supply for stock and domestic use is yet another insult to the farming families who have grown, raised stock and settled the great inland of NSW for generations.

While drought has historically been a main reason for unstable water flows along the Darling, the Government must accept some responsibility for the insupportable upstream extraction and work quickly and transparently to rectify the situation.

The Greens support the NSW Government seeking to purchase Cubbie Station and transitioning it away from unsustainable cotton, with water licences being used to return water to the Darling River, ensuring flows down the length of the river system.

On average, Cubbie Station uses 200 gigalitres of water per year and can use up to 500 gigalitres per year.

As well as diverting flows from the Culgoa, it also uses flood diversion works to procure flows from rain events along the catchment area into its dams.

The $1 billion the premier has reportedly “earmarked for projects to improve water security of cities and towns around NSW”, could be better used to finally listen to the needs of Wilcannia locals, and build a new weir downstream of that town.

This would ensure its water supply and provide the opportunity for expansion and local, small-scale horticultural irrigation.
More local involvement and consultation in the management of the Menindee Lakes system would ensure both Menindee and Broken Hill survive well into the future.
Raising the height of Weir 32, improving the connection between Lake Pamamaroo and Copi Hollo, and a feasibility study into extending the current anabranch pipeline to Weir 32 are long overdue works which the locals support, but sadly have fallen on deaf ears.
Implementing bore water and the associated desalination infrastructure would give governments another reason to ignore the vital Menindee Lakes System, and once again drop the Murray-Darling Basin “hot potato”.

Taking yet more water from the Murray by pipeline to Broken Hill shows the lack of interest or understanding the NSW Water Minister has of the situation and of the river systems as they stand.

http://www.sunraysiadaily.com.au/story/2796319/dire-water-situation-needs-urgent-action/

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s