Discover more from Murray Bridge News
Murray-Darling Basin chief visits Murraylands on listening tour
Andrew McConville has come to hear what locals think about the way the River Murray is being managed.
This post was originally published behind Murray Bridge News’ paywall. Paywalled posts are unlocked four weeks after publication. Can’t wait that long? Subscribe here.
It could have been worse, Andrew McConville says.
His first year in charge of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority could have been 2010.
Instead of drought conditions and angry irrigators, his fact-finding tours of the river basin – including a visit to the Murraylands this week – have focused more on flood preparation.
Mother Nature, as we know, can be fickle.
“In three years’ time it could be a different scenario,” he said.
“That’s why we need the plan.”
The plan is the Murray-Darling Basin Plan: the national agreement which limits the amount of water humans are able to take out of the river system each year, in the hope of keeping it healthy.
Eight years after the basin states reached a deal on implementing it, despite uncounted promises from politicians that the plan will be delivered “on time and in full”, it is running behind schedule.
The New South Wales government, in particular, has been lax in approving water resource plans for the rivers which flow out of that state.
Reaching a water recovery target of 2525 gigalitres per year ahead of a 2024 deadline would be an “extraordinarily large challenge”, Mr McConville said, but it was a target the states had agreed upon and one the MDBA planned to deliver.
Another challenge in the coming years would be incorporating the effects of climate change into the plan.
The original plan did not account for the fact that rainfall across the basin was likely to reduce by 10 per cent and inflows by 30%, on average, in years to come.
Still, it was worth appreciating what had been achieved since the plan was signed, Mr McConville said.
An extra 2100GL of water was already being left in the river each year, not that we needed it right at the moment.
At any rate, he planned to spend his time in the Murraylands listening to irrigators, government authorities, Indigenous leaders and tourism business operators about the challenges they faced now, and would face in future.
Have you met Mr McConville during his visit? What feedback did you offer? Email email@example.com.