Concerns over the health of the Murray-Darling basin have been raised once again by local environmentalists.
Mel Gray, a representative of the Healthy Rivers Dubbo group has called on the state government to make changes to their current involvement in the Murray-Darling basin plan in order to avoid passing beyond a ‘tipping point’ with regards to the river system.
“We’re going to need tighter rules in our water sharing plan that protect those vital first flows,” Ms Gray said.
“We’re facing a future where water is going to be more scarce than ever before in the Macquarie valley, there was a report by the state government in 2013 that told us we would have 30 percent less potable water by 2030, and unfortunately, those predictions seem to be an underestimation.”
While the group have criticised the recent proposal to create a re-regulating weir between Narromine and Warren in recent weeks, they also remain opposed to what they consider high rates of water extraction from the system.
“This is how we got into the situation that we’re in now in the first place,” Ms Gray said.
Ms Gray says that maintaining the current rate of extraction, and committing to the weir, will exacerbate the current situation and cause possibly fatal damage to the Macquarie marsh lands ecosystem.
“It’s not a good idea to extract further water from an already stressed system,” Ms Gray said.
Member for Dubbo, Dugald Saunders said that ensuring the environmental health of the Murray-Darling basin remained the goal of the government’s participation in the Murray-Darling plan.
“For my part I will continue to work with all water users and interests, including recreational users, in the Dubbo electorate to find the best balance in ensuring the river habitat is sustained while commercial agricultural producers are given the opportunity to generate income and jobs for this region,” Mr Saunders said.
He welcomed the recent wet weather as a possible salve.
“The extreme drought of the past three years has impacted on the availability of water for all users including the environment generally, and the marshes specifically,” Mr Saunders said.
“Like all residents of this region I hope the recent return to wetter weather continues to put water into the dam and brings widespread benefit to the environment, farming families and our local communities.”