Australia: Murray-Darling water flows worsen despite AUD 8.5 billion cash splash, analysis finds

Source(s)
Sydney Morning Herald, Fairfax Digital Network

By Nicole Hasham

A distinguished alliance of scientists says water flows in the Murray Darling river system have failed to improve under a $13 billion rescue plan and in some cases have become worse, in startling findings that indicate the controversial policy is floundering.

The analysis adds to a chorus of authoritative voices calling for the troubled Murray-Darling Basin Plan to be radically overhauled, including a Royal Commission that last month accused federal officials of maladministration and gross negligence when managing Australia's largest river system.

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The analysis is the first public evaluation of its kind. It was based on official data since 2010 at two river sites that broadly represent flows in the northern and southern halves of the basin: Chowilla on the NSW-South Australian Border and Wilcannia in north-west NSW.

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“These lack of flow achievements are likely to have had an adverse impact on river, wetland and floodplain ecology which depend on at least one moderate flood every 10 years,” the researchers said, adding that “it is unlikely that there have been overall environmental improvements since the beginning of the basin plan”.

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