WaterNSW raises more questions than answers about the proposed Macquarie River Re-regulating Storage Project (Daily Liberal 1 May 2020 Water NSW addresses environmental concerns.)
Firstly, the explanation about capturing water that currently flows to the end of the system is of great concern. The end of the Macquarie River connects up with the Darling River system.
Any flows that reach the Darling are very important for providing native fish passage up into the Macquarie and for providing important downstream water.
Rainfall rejections generally happen when the system is wetted up and lots of natural triggers have been set off for fish, water birds, frogs, water plants and the many other species that have rainfall responses.
The retention of these flows in the proposed new storage will impact on the health of the downstream environment all the way to the Darling and beyond. We do not understand why the term storage is different to a dam.
Secondly, the environmental water allowances held in Burrendong Dam are not the only water that is important to river health. Flows that occur naturally, with rainfall, including from tributaries that enter the Macquarie downstream of Burrendong have more nutrients, oxygen and no cold water pollution. They are much healthier for the river system and for fish.
WaterNSW CEO David Harris has failed to inform the public about the full range of river operations. This includes meeting water orders from tributary inflows, rather than releasing the orders from Burrendong. This water is likely to be stored in the proposed new structure, thus contradicting the information that the weir will not stop tributary flows.
The environmental impacts of this new large instream structure on the Macquarie River are not likely to be mitigated or offset. The river system including the internationally significant Macquarie Marshes will suffer the consequences.
The Inland Rivers Network (“IRN”) is a coalition of environment groups and individuals that has been advocating for healthy rivers, wetlands and groundwater in the Murray-Darling Basin since 1991.
Inland Rivers Network