Recent media reports claiming negligible water has been recovered for the environment under the Murray-Darling Basin Plan are just plain wrong.
“While the new minister may well be shocked only two gigalitres of the extra 450 gigalitres promised to South Australia has been recovered, that is far from the whole story,” said NSW Irrigators’ Council CEO Claire Miller.
“More than 2100 gigalitres has already been recovered from irrigators under the Basin Plan for the environment, the equivalent of more than four Sydney Harbours.”
“Along with 607 gigalitres held by the States from pre-Basin Plan programs, the environment now holds 27 per cent of water entitlements.”
“That’s in addition to the annual average 16,500 gigalitres of undiverted water flowing through these river systems.”
Ms Miller said the Minister herself in her State of the Environment speech yesterday credited the Basin Plan with saving the river system in 2019 during the most severe drought on record.
“The CEWH says the environmental entitlements enabled it to build up ecosystem resilience during the drought, so that the rivers and wetlands were primed to bounce back immediately when it turned wet again.”
“The result is outstanding bird, fish breeding and native vegetation recovery .”
“Targets have not only been met, but exceeded, and Sustainable Diversion Limits (SDLs) are in place, with irrigation usage tracking well below those limits.”
“The Basin Plan is delivering what was intended: sustainable diversion limits and resilience to climate extremes.”
“The 450GL was a last-minute add-on that from the start was clearly going to be difficult to deliver in practice on several fronts.”
“Using slow progress on the 450GL to pretend the environment has gained almost no extra water is just plain wrong.”