Just add water: myths about the Murray-Darling basin
20 March 2018
Barry Hart, The Guardian
20 March 2018
n recent weeks, there has been a great deal of media attention and public discussion about the volume of water being recovered under the Murray–Darling basin plan, with some arguing that more water is needed for better environmental outcomes.
If only it were that simple. In fact, the volume of water recovery for the environment is just one part of the picture.
Take for example the Barwon-Darling system in the northern basin. This is a largely unregulated system, with naturally highly variable flows. Flow events pulse through the river, separated by periods of low or no flows and sporadic flooding. These natural flow patterns connect and sustain the ecosystems of the rivers, lakes, billabongs, lagoons and wetlands of the northern basin.
Agricultural development in this northern part of the basin is relatively recent, but has become more intense since the turn of the century, with increasing demand for the river’s precious and limited water resources.
Getting the balance right in this system is not just about returning more water to the environment – that alone is not enough. It’s also about maintaining flow patterns that are as close as possible to the natural rhythms of the river.
Read the full story here.