The ‘450GL Up Water Program’ that Tony Burke wants to fast track is deeply flawed and will not only fail to deliver environmental outcomes, but actually risks significant environmental damage while simultaneously hammering a final nail into the coffin of Basin Communities.
The Ricegrowers’ Association of Australia (RGA) is calling on both Labor & the Coalition to redirect the $1.77 Billion associated with the 450GL Up Water to a ‘Complementary Measures Program’ to supercharge Murray-Darling Basin Plan outcomes.
Complementary Measures which Basin Water Ministers agreed to consider in 2016 include,
- The installation of fishways and fish diversion screens
- Carp management activities including release of the carp herpes virus
- Investments and infrastructure to manage cold water pollution, and
- Habitat restoration and riparian management activities.
“Complementary Measures significantly enhance the environmental outcomes for fish, birds and vegetation while reducing the impact of feral species like European Carp and the incidence of Blue Green Algae outbreaks. It’s an absolute no brainer and the RGA calls on both parties to commit to implementing a Complementary Measures Program.” RGA President Jeremy Morton said.
The intent of the 450GL is force huge volumes of water down our rivers including doubling the releases from the Menindee Lakes where a million fish died earlier this year. Proceeding with the 450GL dramatically increases the chances of this tragic event occurring more regularly.
“The Murray, Murrumbidgee and Goulburn Rivers are already bursting at the seams with increased flows causing huge negative environmental impacts even before the 450GL is recovered. When we see what is happening in our rivers, including the Darling, how can anyone in their right mind possibly think that proceeding with the 450GL makes sense in any way, shape or form.” Mr. Morton said
The fish that died in the Darling River near Menindee were trapped by block banks in the River, they couldn’t escape. The Blue Green Algae event was exacerbated by poor river bank habitat management and bottom feeding European carp; which now account for up to 90% of fish biomass in some areas of the Basin, stirring up nutrient rich sediment which feeds the algae. Complementary Measures would go a long way to ensuring that such tragic events are far less likely in the future. Proceeding with the 450GL will almost certainly guarantee it becomes a regular occurrence.
“This is a fork in the road moment for Government, they can continue down the pathway of ignorance or make the necessary changes in line with the much espoused adaptive management principles that the Murray-Darling Basin Plan is allegedly built on.” Mr Morton concluded.