A plan which was designed to protect our environment is instead destroying it, but politicians and government authorities are doing nothing.
Southern Riverina environmentalists and farmers, Rod and Brett Napier, have been trying for more than two years to draw attention to the destruction of river environments, but they say it “falls on deaf ears”.
They continue to be frustrated by a lack of urgency to stop the damage, coupled with a reluctance to acknowledge its extent.
In September 2018 the Napiers wrote to the Murray-Darling Basin Authority’s executive director of river management Andrew Reynolds about river bank slumping in the Edward River upstream of Deniliquin.
Rod Napier said: “I own land alongside the Edward River downstream of the Barmah choke and upstream of Deniliquin. For many years now (and in particular with the inception of larger volumes of environmental and consumptive requirements downstream) the level of bank erosion that is occurring is of great concern environmentally. It is my understanding that the MDBA are aware of the issue, however no action has been taken.”
In response, Mr Reynolds said the MDBA “recognises that erosion occurs in rivers and streams under both natural and regulated conditions where water orders are in the system” and that “it is well known that erosion can be made worse by factors that are not flow related, such as changes to river bank vegetation and by wash from boating”. He referred to the impacts of flooding and said it is “not feasible for governments to construct works at all locations where erosion impacts adjacent landholdings”.
The Napiers responded, stating there is no boating in this section of the river as it is “totally blocked off with fallen timber”, and there had been massive erosion well before the 2016 flood event.
“The high speed water events during the spring months are undermining the banks, hence the bank slumping and trees falling. We would like someone to come and look at this problem face to face with us,” they said.
But still nothing happens.
“The Basin Plan was supposedly developed to protect the environment, yet it is destroying our pristine stretch of the Edward River,” Rod Napier said.
“The destruction occurring in the Edward was brought to the attention of our state water department many years ago, but nothing happens.
“The MDBA is reluctant to admit there is a problem, and the NSW Government and its agencies will not get involved to fix it.
“I am even more concerned with the MDBA recently telling us the damage to the Barmah Choke is caused by a slug. This seems to be part of its effort to convince the public that we need to dredge or by-pass the choke, potentially causing even more damage in the Edward.
“This will come at a huge cost to taxpayers and will not fix the problem,” Mr Napier said.
He explained private property was being damaged along the Edward River. On their property, crossings on topographical streams are constantly being washed away and as a result there is no access in the event of fire. Mr Napier said other landholders along the river are facing the same issue.
He said the MDBA needs to acknowledge and highlight the flow regimes it is being forced by legislation to implement as part of the Basin Plan are damaging the environment and need to be reviewed.
“Our greatest fear is that the beautiful Edward River and its unique environment will be destroyed before anyone admits we’ve got this plan wrong and we need to fix it,” Rod Napier said.