A DOZEN farmer and irrigator groups from across parts of southern and south-west Queensland and northern NSW have written to the Murray-Darling Basin Authority urging it to demonstrate that it cares about the social and economic impacts of its decisions.
The Authority’s decision on the Northern Basin Review – due to be made this week – is critical to the future vibrancy of local towns and the success of industries that rely on access to water for irrigation.
The letter, sent under the banner of the Australian Farmers’ ‘More Than Flow’ campaign, builds on the significant work already undertaken by irrigation-dependent communities across the Northern Basin to shed light on these issues and to strive for a better solution.
Campaign spokesman and Cotton Australia general manager, Michael Murray, said the Authority had released an interim report of its analysis of the social and economic impacts of the water recovery options it was considering.
“What we do know is that job losses, in the order of 35 per cent in some towns, is an unacceptable result of the Basin Plan. Enough is enough,” Mr Murray said.
“We urge the Authority to ensure that adjustments to the sustainable diversion limits arising from the Northern Basin Review are truly balanced.
“We also know that so much can be done to improve environmental outcomes without the need to recover more water.
“Mitigating cold water pollution from dams, fish passage over weirs, re-snagging, managing pests and invasive species such as carp, and land management activities in the riparian zone and in wetlands are all crucial to improving environmental outcomes in the Northern Basin.
“The Authority must recommend that water recovery stops now and that governments instead turn their focus to achieving environmental outcomes in a way that protects northern communities from any further impact.”