Tag Archives: Wilcannia

Greens plan to revive dying Darling River

MEDIA RELEASE - 15 December 2014

The Greens NSW water spokesperson Jeremy Buckingham today launched the Greens’ policy in Broken Hill to revive the Darling River, saying it was in a dire state with people all along the Darling River in towns such as Wilcannia, Menindee and Broken Hill suffering as a result.

“The Darling River is dying with horrific consequences for the towns, farms, communities and environment down the river.  This is not just a natural phenomenon, upstream extraction has severely depleted flows to the point where the river’s future is dire,” said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

“The Greens want to revive the Darling River by returning significant amounts of water to it.  Small to medium rain events should be able to make their way downstream and not end up in irrigators’ dams.  The massive Cubbie Station cotton farm in Queensland is the most egregious example of this and the Greens want the NSW Government to seek to purchase Cubbie Station and return up to 500 gigalitres of water back into the Darling River system.

“Today I visited Wilcannia and heard from the Aboriginal community who grew up along the river about just how important the Darling River is to them and their town.  Currently the Darling River is a sand bed at Wilcannia. The government should commit funds to a new weir to provide a weir pool through the town of Wilcannia.

“Rather than put Broken Hill on to bore water, the Greens support minor and long overdue infrastructure changes to the Menindee Lakes System and management that prioritises Broken Hill’s water supply and includes proper local community consultation.

“For too long the Darling River has been over exploited and forgotten by the politicians in Sydney and Canberra.  All political parties should recognise that the Murray Darling Basin Plan has failed to restore the health of the Darling River, and commit to reviving the Darling River and recognising its importance to the communities that rely on it.”

Contact: Max Phillips - 0419 444 916

NSW Greens Darling River Policy Initiative

1) Return water to the Darling River

The Greens want to see significant amounts of water returned to the Darling River. Small and moderate rain events should be allowed to flow into the river and make their way downstream. Too much irrigation and flood diversion works are occurring upstream, with additional water for mining and coal seam gas a new concern. Restoring water volumes to the river is a more sensible way to provide water security for users than expensive engineering schemes.

The NSW Government should seek to purchase Cubbie Station and return a significant amount of water to Darling System. Cubbie Station uses 200 gigalitres of water per year on average, and can use up to 500 gigalitres in a year. Not only does it divert a significant portion of flows in the Culgoa River, but flood diversion works also divert a large area of
catchment into Cubbie Station’s dams.

The Greens support the NSW Government purchasing Cubbie Station and transitioning it away from cotton with water licences being used to return water to the Darling River to ensure flows down the entire length of the river. We believe such a purchase is an economical way to return flows to the river, improve river health and improve water security for downstream users.

2) A downstream weir for Wilcannia in 2015

The Greens want to see a new downstream weir built for Wilcannia in 2015. The current weir is leaking and upstream of town meaning the river through town is very low or non-existent during dry times. A new downstream weir will provide better water quality for residents of Wilcannia, provide for recreation, swimming, fishing and cultural uses, as well as provide an opportunity for small scale horticultural irrigation for local food supply.

There has been a campaign for a new downstream weir in Wilcannia for at least 20 years. The Greens want to have funds committed, not only for feasibility studies, but to actually construct a new weir with an appropriate fish ladder.

3) Improved management of Menindee Lakes and local consultation

The Greens believe Menindee Lakes are a valuable environmental, economic and recreational resource, as well as an important source of water supply for the city of Broken Hill. Management of the Menindee Lakes should be rebalanced to ensure the well-being of the people of Menindee and Broken Hill is prioritised. This means the Murray Darling Basin Authority and Water NSW should factor in the value of the Lakes to the local population and environment, when considering releases for downstream uses – rather than viewing the Lakes as simply a source of water loss through evaporation.

The Greens support more local involvement in the management of the Menindee Lakes System, this should include revising whether water levels in Lake Menindee and Cawndilla are included in threshold calculations and setting a water volume threshold trigger for increased local consultation in the management of the Menindee Lakes System.

4) Support for the ‘We Want Action’ plan

The Greens support the plan drafted by the ‘We Want Action’ group, including raising the height of weir 32, improving the connection between Lake Pamamaroo and Copi Hollo, and investigating the feasibility of extending the current anabranch pipeline to weir 32.

The Greens share concerns that implementing bore water and associated desalination infrastructure will lead to a de-prioritisation of the health of the Menindee Lakes system and Broken Hill’s water supply within the overall management of the Murray-Darling River system. In particular that it will allow increased water allocations upstream on the Darling River, and allow water from the Menindee Lakes System to be used more frequently to fulfil downstream needs, as either replacement for water from the Murray River, or at the expense of the Menindee Lakes System itself.

5) Reverse recent retrograde changes made by the Water Management Act 2014

The Water Management Bill 2014 made significant retrograde changes to water management in NSW that will be to the detriment of the Darling River and its downstream users. These include:

a) excluding post-2004 data from water management calculations – which effectively excludes the Millennium Drought and a changing climate. This means water storages will be emptied more quickly and recklessly, which will create a more dire situation when drought does strike.

b) legalising illegal flood works and granting flood water rights. This means that significant amounts of water will be diverted or continue to be diverted from the Darling River for private use. The effect will mean that small and medium rain events will not make it to the lower Darling.

c) Making supplementary water licences compensable, increasing the potential liability for tax payers, and additional pressure to provide increased allocations to irrigators and other water users.

These changes will lead to less water in the rivers, increased liabilities for taxpayers, and greater allocations of scare resources leaving little for dry periods which are predicted to become more common with climate change. The Greens voted in parliament against these changes and will work for the changes to be repealed.

6) Restoring the buyback of water in the Murray Darling system to at least 2570 gigalitres

Restoring the buyback of water in the Murray Darling system to, at least the original 2750 gigalitres specified in the 2012 Murray Darling Basin Plan, which was subsequently reduced by the NSW Government to 1,500 gigalitres as a condition of NSW signing up to the plan.

Questions raised on sudden 9% increase to Barwon-Darling water cap

Jeremy River horizontal

MEDIA RELEASE - 11 December 2014

The Greens NSW water spokesperson Jeremy Buckingham has today called on Water Minister Kevin Humphries to explain a sudden 9% increase in the maximum water available to irrigators in the Barwon-Darling River water source, given that this is an already overstressed river system which is currently in the grip of a serious drought.

“It’s certainly a surprise that in the middle of a serious drought, and in an already over-stressed river system, Kevin Humphries as Minister for Water has suddenly found modelling which suggests that a 9% increase to the water cap is possible,” said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

“The question needs to be asked: Has Kevin Humphries taken a generous interpretation of the modelling for the appropriate level of extraction in the Barwon-Darling River to ensure that irrigators are given more water?

“After 15 years of debate on the level of the cap for this river, Kevin Humphries has today conveniently found in favour of irrigators at the expense of the environment, flood plain graziers and downstream users, such as the towns of Wilcannia, Menindee, Broken Hill and Pooncarie.

“People are questioning whether Kevin Humphries truly has the interests of his entire electorate at heart, or is simply the Minister for his irrigator mates.

“Kevin Humphries needs to come clean with the people of Broken Hill and explain why he has suddenly approved an increase of 16,000 megalitres to the maximum water available to irrigators every year in the Barwon-Darling River, while they are forced onto water restrictions and may have to drink bore water due to the mismanagement of the Menindee Lakes system by his government.

“Broken Hill’s water supply is now threatened by blue-green algae, so not only is this a questionable decision, but the timing is insensitive,” Mr Buckingham said.

Contact: Max Phillips – 9230 2202 or 0419 444 916

Audio: Jeremy Buckingham discusses the Wilcannia Weir and Broken Hill’s water crisis on Radio 2BH – 28/11/14

Jeremy talking on radio

Listen to Greens water and Western NSW spokesperson, Jeremy Buckingham talk about the need to build a new weir for Wilcannia and Broken Hill’s water crisis on Radio 2BH – 28/11/14

Just build the Wilcannia weir, Minister

Jeremy River horizontal

MEDIA RELEASE - 27 November 2014

The Greens NSW water and Western NSW spokesperson Jeremy Buckingham today called on Water Minister Kevin Humphries to stop messing around with feasibility studies and commit actual funds to build a new downstream weir for Wilcannia in 2015.

“There is an old saying that “money talks, while bullshit walks”, and right now Water Minister Kevin Humphries has not committed funds to build a new downstream weir for the town of Wilcannia. All we have is a lot of boasting about a feasibility study,” said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

“There are already 15 weirs on the Darling River upstream of the Menindee Lakes System. There are over 250 weirs West of the Great Dividing Range in NSW – everyone knows moving the weir downstream of Wilcannia is entirely feasible. We don’t need a fancy feasibility study, we need to draw up engineering plans and have a commitment of funds to build the weir in 2015.

“If the current Water Minister can’t even allocate a relatively small budget to build a much needed weir in the heart of his new electorate, then he should hang up his boots and step down.

“Minister Humphries can run out all the lazy clichés about the Greens that he likes, but I’m not going away, I’m going to fight for this weir because it is the right thing to do,” he said.

Contact: Max Phillips - 9230 2202 or 0419 444 916

Failure to prioritise Wilcannia Weir shameful

MEDIA RELEASE - 26 November 2014

The Greens NSW spokesperson on water Jeremy Buckingham has described as shameful the failure to prioritise funding a new weir for the town of Wilcannia in either the Water Security for Regions 2014-15 Shortlisted Projects or the 2014 State Infrastructure Strategy released yesterday, saying the Baird Government is neglecting the basic needs of people in Outback NSW, particularly Aboriginal communities.

“It is shameful that the need to build a new weir for Wilcannia downstream of town has been completely ignored by the Baird Government in setting out its water infrastructure priorities,” said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

“For over ten years successive government have failed to act on the issue of moving the weir, despite the fact the project would make a big difference to the wellbeing and water security of the people of Wilcannia.

“With the Government looking to allocating $1 billion to water infrastructure it is disgraceful that the Wilcannia Weir has been left off their plan.

“The failure to prioritise this weir, even though the Water Minister is the local member, highlights the disinterest and neglect of Outback towns such as Wilcannia by the Baird Government.

“The Greens want to see a new downstream weir for Wilcannia built in 2015. We want justice for the Badrkindji people.   I am going to be on Water Minister Kevin Humphries case from now, until the election and beyond, until we get action on the weir project,” he said.

Contact: Max Phillips - 9230 2202 or 0419 444 916