24 September 2003

Water report recommends huge flow

Scientists have recommended a massive 1500 Gl extra flow for the Murray River to achieve significantly improved environmental outcomes, in a report leaked to The News.

The recommendation is likely to increase concern among irrigators who are worried they will have to hand over some of their water to achieve the target.

The scientific report also suggests that a total of 3000 Gl, equivalent to almost the whole capacity of Lake Eildon, would be needed to achieve a goal of a 'healthy, working River Murray system'.

The interim report has been prepared for the Murray Darling Basin Commission, which plans to release it in about three weeks.

Community Foodbowl Alliance chairman Peter Schwarz said the report would be viewed with some concern by irrigators because there was no indication yet where the extra water was going to come from.

He repeated earlier calls for the public release of the whole scientific report.

Murray Valley Community Action Group chairman Lester Wheatley said 1500 Gl was a benchmark figure established by the Ministerial Council without proper scientific consultation.

Fit's a pattern really. Reports contrary to the government's opinion don't get published if at all possible. The planned publication date, to coincide with the meeting of the MDB ministerial council, would have been swamped by the usual glowing reports of the ministerial decisions issued by the ministers. The 1500 gigalitre figure is a minimum to restore the river. Until now it was the maximum the MDB council was prepared to consider.

The 3000 gigalitre figure actually has some scientific basis unlike the lower figure decided by a politician standing blindfolded in front of a picture of a donkey.

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