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Critical freshwater assumptions ‘ignored’

Critical assumptions regarding the history of the Lower Lakes have been “conveniently ignored”, according to Chair of Murrumbidgee Industry and Agriculture Communities Paul Pierotti.

He registered for the webinar on Tuesday at which the Murray-Darling Basin Authority’s latest report on the Lower Lakes was released, describing it as “what you would expect from an organisation that marks its own homework”.

“I’m desperately waiting for the day the MDBA says, ‘gee, it looks like we got this wrong’; but I won’t be holding my breath.”

Mr Pierotti said communities no longer have faith in the MDBA to implement the fair, balanced and flexible Basin Plan that was promised, adding the Lower Lakes report again shows it is easy to develop data that suits the message you want to deliver. There appears a significant MDBA influence in the report, which also occurred in the recent Keelty report.

He said critical assumptions about freshwater influences on the Lower Lakes and the Coorong have been ignored, and while the report mentioned the reduction in flows from the Upper South-East it made no further mention of diverting the overland flows and draining what used to be a massive 40 per cent of the Lower South East which naturally were ephemeral wetlands prior to the drains all flowing towards Lower Lakes and the Coorong.

“Stating that the only freshwater flows into the Lower Lakes and Coorong came from the Murray and that salt water incursions were rare is blatantly incorrect.

“The report ignores other freshwater sources besides the Murray River which influenced the Lower Lakes and the nature of the report again highlights how incorrect assumptions in Basin Plan modelling plague the bureaucracy, which has an entrenched view that the Murray was the only freshwater source. This has been proven multiple times to be wrong.”

Mr Pierotti said the report “was not worth the paper it’s written on”, however he said “it will not deter our communities who want to see a healthy Coorong and Lower Lakes system, which can be achieved without destroying upstream rivers and environments in the process”.

“The 1902 Royal Commission showed river boat trading was halted by five or six months a year due to low freshwater flows and in those summer and autumn months significant estuarine incursions occurred.

“This has also been conveniently ignored.”

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