IN just a couple weeks, the Australian Parliament will debate a critical amendment to the Murray-Darling Basin Plan to change the water recovery settings in the southern Basin.
At the heart of these amendments is a package of projects aimed at improving how water recovered for the environment is used, so we are getting the best possible environmental outcomes from it.
There is a damaging misconception in some quarters that the amendments will diminish the environmental benefits of the plan.
This could not be further from the truth. In fact, the projects tied to the amendment will improve our ability to achieve the basin plan’s intended environmental outcomes.
This is because water alone is not enough to achieve environmental change of the magnitude needed to secure the future health of the basin system.
We are talking about a river system with infrastructure and management practices that have been developed over the course of 100 years, with the aim of delivering water for consumptive use.
To achieve the basin plan’s goals, we now need this system to be able to deliver for the environment – as well as for communities and
industries. That is why we need projects to reform water management and build new infrastructure to allow us to use the water we have recovered for the environment when, where and how it’s needed.
If we do not stay the course with the basin plan, we not only risk the hard-won progress we have made to date, but also the future of our nation’s most iconic river system, consigning it once again to uncertainty and instability.
I urge all parties to remain unified behind the common goals of the basin plan – a healthy future for the river system and the communities and industries that depend upon it.
MDBA chief executive