Bush Summit
Bush Summit

Murray-Darling Basin Authority ’incompetent’, says Minister

The "incompetence, neglect and bias" of the Murray Darling Basin Authority toward NSW will disintegrate the ­entire water sharing plan if changes aren't made immediately, state officials will argue.

NSW Water Minister Melinda Pavey will front a senate inquiry on Wednesday to warn the federal government the controversial Plan will be "broken" and fail to deliver if the state is pushed toward "unrealistic" time frames to return water to the environment. "NSW has recovered over four million megalitres of environmental water entitlements," she told The Daily Telegraph.

"We now need to concentrate on measures that use this water smarter to deliver the environmental, social and economic outcomes to all communities.

"Since the Basin Plan passed the Senate in 2012 there has been a failure by the Commonwealth to enact its promise to our communities that adaptive management and localism had been 'hardwired' into the basin plans' DNA."

 

Melinda Pavey Minister for Water, Property and Housing at the Wyangala Dam near Cowra. Picture: Jonathan Ng
Melinda Pavey Minister for Water, Property and Housing at the Wyangala Dam near Cowra. Picture: Jonathan Ng

 

Ms Pavey will also take aim at South Australia, pointing to a historic $15 million in fines handed to irrigators for "systematic theft of water" as proof of the need for greater transparency.

"At the coalface of the drought in NSW, almost a million megalitres of environmental water was delivered to the South Australian border on top of their monthly entitlement flows," she said. "That's 677,000ML flowing through the barrages into the Murray Mouth and sea.

"We need the balance to change. We have set the benchmark for compliance policy and it is well overdue for the other states to catch up."

Ms Pavey will argue there are a "number of opportunities" to enable a wider range of environmental projects, such as measures to control carp, to substitute the current Sustainable Diversion Limit Adjustment Mechanism (SDLAM) projects required under the Murray Darling Basin Plan.

"It's time to focus less on a blunt tool and more on delivering proper balanced outcomes.

"Some of the measures ­include a range of non-flow natural resource management activities such as the installation of fish ways, fish diversion screens, carp screens and traps and irrigation screening."

Originally published as Murray-Darling Basin Authority 'incompetent', says Minister


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