Murray-Darling system under strain as orchard plantings increase 41%

21 March 2018

Anne Davies, The Guardian
21 March 2018

A huge expansion of irrigated crops in the Mildura region of the lower Murray is threatening to overtake the water available in the river, and has set the scene for a disaster if drought conditions return.

A 16-day heatwave that hit the region this summer exposed the vulnerability of the Sunraysia and western New South Wales regions. During that time, the Murray-Darling basin’s water managers scrambled to meet demand, as the region experienced a run of days over 35C between 16 and 29 January.

But it is the long-term scenario that has environmentalists and water authorities worried. Growth in permanent plantings, mainly water-intensive almond trees, has dramatically increased in the region.

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