The Murray-Darling Basin Authority Draft Plan, released yesterday, includes a reduction in water use of 2,750 gigalitres per year, compared to 2009 baseline diversions. So there will now be extra 2,750 GL/y in environmental flows. Does this give the right balance?
The candidates for the biggest loser are (1) the irrigators, (2) the Basin communities and (3) the environment.
The extra environmental flow is estimated to lead to a reduction in irrigated agricultural production of about 11%. But the irrigators won’t be the big losers because they will be compensated by the water buyback scheme.
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While the majority of urban Australians get back to work after a rejuvenating holiday, Queenslanders begin the new decade trying to escape the rising floodwaters. The social and economic impacts from the floods are likely to be felt for some time.
The floods in the Murray-Darling Basin have affected lives and livelihoods, crops have been damaged, though for many it has also brought much needed water and rejuvenated pastures.
All of this water may lead many people to assume that the environmental problems in the Murray-Darling Basin have been solved, but this is far from the truth.
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What started as a ripple is now growing into a powerful protest wave sweeping across our great nation.
In the space of a week, it has been fed by a series of fiery meetings in outback Queensland and southern States, a symbolic funeral service in Perth and gatherings in Brisbane and Melbourne.
At first glance these might seem unrelated, but beneath the surface they are connected by a strong under current of people pushed to the limits. The Perth “funeral” on the steps of Parliament House involved the “death” of property rights, complete with wreath laying, a piper in full regalia and a cortege to Cottesloe Beach for symbolic burial.
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