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'Treachery': Leaked report reveals low river flow blamed on extraction

The ailing state of the Darling River traced to man-made water extraction

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robert99 robert99 Sweden Posts: 1360
1 4 Mar 2018
https://www.smh.com.au/environment/sustainability/treachery-leaked-report-reveals-low-river-flow-blamed-on-extraction-20180303-p4z2pu.html

The ailing state of the Darling River has been traced to man-made water extraction, according to a leaked report by the agency charged with overseeing its health.

The "hydrologic investigation", dated last November and obtained by Fairfax Media, analysed more than 2000 low-flow events from 1990-2017 on the Barwon-Darling River between Mungindi near the NSW-Queensland border down to Wilcannia in far-western NSW.

The draft report – a version of which is understood to have been sent to the Turnbull government for comment – comes days after WaterNSW issued a red alert for blue-green algae on the Lower Darling River at Pooncarie and Burtundy.

Bourke is among towns also on stage-two water restrictions as the Darling dries up in places.

The paper by Murray-Darling Basin Authority's (MDBA) own scientists found flow behaviour had changed since 2000, particularly in mid-sections of the river such as between the towns of Walgett and Brewarrina.

On that section, low or no-flow periods were "difficult to reconcile with impacts purely caused by climate", the scientists said.

Indeed, dry periods on the river downstream from Bourke were "significantly longer than pre-2000", with the dry spells during the millennium drought continuing afterwards.

Water resource development – also described as "anthropogenic impact" – must also play "a critical role" in the low flows between Walgett and Brewarrina, the report said.

The revelations come after the Senate last month voted to disallow changes to the $13 billion Murray-Darling Basin Plan that would have cut annual environmental water savings by 70 billion litres.

“The report is derived from data which belongs to the public, was prepared for public purpose by servants of the public using taxpayers' money, and should have been made available to the public," Rex Patrick, the Nick Xenophon Team senator, said, adding the information was "highly relevant to the Northern Basin Review debate".

"That it wasn't made available for Parliament's consideration is nothing short of a treachery," Senator Patrick said.

A spokeswoman for the authority said the report was "undergoing quality assurance processes prior to publication", with a formal release on its website likely in coming days.
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