Water minister bows to Greens pressure and places embargo on water extraction
MEDIA RELEASE – 8 March 2018
NSW Greens Water spokesman Jeremy Buckingham has today congratulated the Minister for Regional Water, Niall Blair, for placing an embargo on water extraction on the Barwon Darling system, to ensure expected flows from significant recent rainfall in Queensland will at least reach the Bourke weir pool, but raised concerns that too much water will be extracted in Queensland to the detriment of the Darling River.
“I have been pressuring the minister in parliament today to impose an embargo on the Barwon Darling today to ensure water from recent rain events reaches the Darling River, and I’m pleased to see the Minister agree to an embargo late this afternoon” said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.
“It’s very concerning that the Minister does not expect water to reach further downstream than the Bourke weir. How much of this rain event will be pumped into the irrigation dams around St George and at Cubbie Station in Queensland?
Right now the Darling River is in crisis. We have a blue green algae red alert on the lower Darling River between Pooncarie and Burtundy that could become life threatening and the Darling is bone dry above Wilcannia. Without significant flows, the Menindee Lakes system and the lower Darling will be without water by the end of the year for the second time in three years.”
“It’s pleasing to see that community pressure and concern for the health of the Darling River has seen the Nationals put the interests of the community and the river ahead of their mates and donors from the irrigation industry for once,” said Mr Buckingham.
Below is the text of the motion moved by Jeremy Buckingham in parliament this morning.
The Minister announced the embargo in response to a question from Mr Buckingham in Parliament in the afternoon.
I give notice that on the next sitting day I will move:
- That this House notes that:
- There has been significant recent rainfall in the northern catchment of the Murray-Darling Basin;
- There is a very real possibility that none of the flows from this rainfall will make it down to the lower Darling River, especially as under current laws irrigators can capture up to 3 years supply of water from one flow to store in their dams;
- There is currently a blue green algae red alert on the lower Darling River between Pooncarie and Burtundy that could become life threatening;
- Without significant flows making it down the Darling River, Broken Hill, the Menindee Lakes system and the lower Darling will be without water by the end of the year for the second time in three years; and,
- The Darling is currently completely dry north of Wilcannia.
- That this House calls on the Minister for Regional Water, Niall Blair, to exercise his powers under the Barwon-Darling Unregulated and Alluvial Sources Water Sharing Plan 2012 to protect the expected flows, including through urgently implementing an embargo on extractions, to ensure that all downstream water users have healthy stock and domestic supplies.