Yanco Creek community members continue to have concerns about future infrastructure plans for the creek system, despite having a small victory this week.
For many years they have been opposing two SDLAM projects that proposed over 60 infrastructure changes within the Yanco Creek System, pitched as a water saving measure under the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.
Residents have constantly said the project would cause wide spread environmental damage to the Yanco Creek System, including wetlands such as the Wanganella Swamp, a world renowned bird breeding site.
NSW Water Minister Melinda Pavey has this week confirmed the project will not go ahead as originally planned, following consistent concerns from local landholders. The Minister said the 2024 deadline for the project, which was part of a suite of measures aimed at returning 605 gigalitres to the environment, could not be met. She said landholders have suggested viable alternatives which should be explored.
Yanco Creek and Tributaries Advisory Council (YACTAC) executive officer Tanya Thompson said the community would not accept what was originally proposed.
“Yanco Creek communities have been warning the government for years that the SDLAM projects have significant flaws. YACTAC has attended every meeting or discussion since 2015, but while our organisation continues to have the same people at the table the department has had enormous change in staff and with each change YACTAC feel we go over old ground.
“It’s a frustrating process but we are determined to keep engaged to ensure the creeks keep flowing for the towns, landholders, community and the environment as we all rely upon the creeks for water supply,” Ms Thompson said.
She added the project in its original form would have significantly jeopardised connectivity from the Murrumbidgee to the Murray, which is required for the survival and breeding of fish and other native species.
YACTAC, along with other community representatives, have been attending regular monthly meetings for the past year and look forward to 2021 where sessions will be held to determine viable project options, that we will insist undergo rigorous investigation and modelling.
“Our communities still have a lack of trust and the department will need to work thoughtfully to bring the broader community into the conversation. YACTAC has regularly kept its members up to date with progress, slow as it has been. It is imperative that whatever the outcome, and whatever is built, be designed specifically for the future requirements of the environment and local community.
“We are talking about making changes to a healthy creek environment and it is not as simple as building a road. Our communities want a resilient future and are not interested in short term gains or political statements,” Ms Thompson concluded.