That’s the headline for a piece in The Conversation I’ve signed along with a dozen or so prominent scientists and economists who have worked for many years on the problems of the Murray Darling Basin. It’s been released along with a Declaration, reproduced over the fold.
We, the undersigned, call for:
One: A halt to all publicly-funded water recovery associated with irrigation infrastructure subsidies/grants in the Murray-Darling Basin, until a comprehensive and independent audit of Basin water recovery is published;
Two: A publicly available, comprehensive and independent economic and scientific audit of all completed Basin water recovery and a full scientific review of planned Sustainable Diversion Limit Adjustments including details of environmental water recovered, expenditures and actual environmental outcomes (to date and projected), especially the effects on Basin stream flows, including at the Murray Mouth, and on floodplain inundation; and
Three: An adequately funded, expert, scientific and independent body to monitor, measure and give advice about delivery of the Water Act (2007) including: spatial and temporal hydrological and environmental changes in the Basin; comprehensive economic and scientific audits of the costs, benefits and outcomes of the Basin Plan and water recovery; river-scale assessments of effectiveness of measured water use from rivers and on floodplains; and evaluations of the adequacy of State river management and regulation to fully deliver the Water Act (2007).
Unless the Australian and State governments fully deliver on the key objects of the Water Act (2007), the Basin’s aquatic environments will remain impaired and billions of public money risks being spent without leading to the long-term sustainability of either irrigation or the environment and the support needed for key social-cultural values.