A prominent water policy advocate is calling for “a start to difficult discussions” around poor water management, which is seeing huge quantities wasted, instead of being effectively used for our environment and food production.
Darren De Bortoli, who has extensively investigated historic water use in the Coorong and Lower Lakes regions in South Australia, says we need to put parochialism and politics aside and determine what is best for everyone’s long-term sustainable future.
He congratulated a group of South Australian producers who have united to try and achieve water security, and have highlighted the vast quantities of fresh water that are being wasted as they pour out to sea.
“We have this wastage at the end of the system, and along the Murray and its tributaries we have seen unnecessary flooding as authorities try to push too much water through a fragile river system. This is causing unintended environmental damage and it needs to be addressed,” Mr De Bortoli said.
He added the refusal of successive federal governments, both Coalition and Labor, to effectively address our inadequate water management was no longer acceptable.
“The ridiculous mantra of Water Minister Keith Pitt and his government of delivering the Basin Plan ‘in full and on time’ needs to stop,” Mr De Bortoli said.
“What sort of plan do you have where flaws and shortcomings are so blatantly obvious, yet nothing is done to address them? Failing to address the problems at the end of the system is just one in a long line of issues that needs to be acknowledged so remedial action can be discussed.
“Stop spending millions upon millions on so-called independent reports that do nothing but provide the answers the government and its bureaucracies are seeking.
“Acknowledge what history tells us … that the Lower Lakes was once an estuarine system and forcing it by man-made infrastructure and flow regimes to be a freshwater system is causing incredible damage to people and environments.
“Throughout South Australia, New South Wales and Victoria we need to stand up to our inept governments and say ‘enough is enough’. Stop pandering and start making strong decisions to give our nation the sustainable environment and food production industry that we all want,” Mr De Bortoli said.
He welcomed the fact that communities around the south-east of South Australia are realising the damage being caused to communities and production by sending 112 gigalitres a year out to sea (nearly a quarter of Sydney Harbour).
“This shows people with competing interests are capable of sitting down and having difficult discussions about what needs to be done for the overall good. By working together and looking at long term sustainable options for managing the end of the system there can be wins for everyone – the Lower Lakes, the Coorong, the farmers around the lakes and the communities upstream,” Mr De Bortoli said.
He said recharging the aquifers around the Southern Lagoon of the Coorong is critical for its health and long-term survival, and a priority must be returning water to the Coorong.
“Producers in the Limestone Coast region have shown they have the maturity to put past differences aside and work towards a sustainable future. It’s time the federal government and various state governments did likewise,” Mr De Bortoli said.