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Government’s answer to Floodplain Harvesting report bitter pill for the Darling-Baaka River

The Water Minister Kevin Anderson has today confirmed, with its release of a response to the Floodplain Harvesting Inquiry Report, that the Government is intent on continuing to ignore community outcry.

“In recent years we have seen horrific fish kills and rapidly shrinking Ramsar wetlands, in part because too much water has been taken from floodplains,” Nature Conservation Council Chief Executive Chris Gambian said. 

“Everyone agrees that floodplain harvesting must be licenced and reduced, but the way the NSW government wants to do it runs the risk of locking in ecological collapse.” 

Despite the widespread concerns of the community in the Basin, the Minister has made no concessions to the needs of the environment, First Nations and water users downstream.

“The deal that the government is offering the community in terms of flow targets would be just enough to keep a few puddles wet in the bottom of the river after a drought. The river needs enough water so it can support aquatic life, and a few puddles can’t do that,” Mr. Gambian said.

Under the current proposed licencing regime, there would be no reduction of floodplain harvesting in the Macquarie Valley upstream of the Macquarie Marshes.

“How is the NSW government reconciling their legal responsibility to protect the iconic Ramsar listed Macquarie Marshes with their plans to licence all of the existing floodplain harvesting diversions in this catchment?” 

In their report the government admits that the current level of floodplain harvesting diversions is harming the environment and negatively impacting communities and water users downstream.

“Despite knowing the impacts, the government are willing to licence large volumes of floodplain harvesting before ensuring that the water being taken can be accurately measured. That shifts a massive amount of water away from the environment and communities to big irrigation agribusiness.”

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