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Published: 03 September 2020   •   Media statements

The MDBA welcomes the new report by the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists about river flows in the Murray–Darling Basin but believes it does not tell the whole story.

Executive Director of Basin Strategy and Knowledge, Vicki Woodburn, said the Assessment of river flows in the Murray-Darling Basin: Observed versus expected flows under the Basin Plan 2012-2019 was a valuable contribution to the science community's views about improving the Basin Plan's implementation to 2026.

"Our analysis also shows that the recent drought – that saw record high temperatures and low rainfall – meant that flows in the river system were inhibited," Vicki Woodburn said.

"Our analysis differs from the Wentworth Group because in addition to hydrology we also draw on data and expert advice for other aspects of the system – this includes data from environmental scientists, state government experts as well as river operators. Our analysis illustrates that in the past seven years, the Basin Plan has increased flows and is making a difference to the environment.

"It's important to measure not just flows, which in themselves are not targets within the Basin Plan. We work with our state and federal colleagues to also measure bird and fish breeding, vegetation health and the health of complex ecosystems like the Gwydir wetlands and the Lower Lakes. We invest significant resources to check if the environment is responding to managed environmental water – and we know it is.

"Later this year, we will release the 2020 Basin Plan Evaluation which will draw on hydrological analysis along with other lines of other evidence—from environmental scientists, the state agencies and river operators, as well as our modelling.

"Because of the Basin Plan, we're seeing better protection of flows for the environment, stronger compliance to prevent water theft and the regulation of floodplain harvesting.

"We do agree with the Wentworth Group that water management can be improved—the Basin Plan is the mechanism to achieve this improvement.

"The Basin Plan is unlike any other reform of its kind in the world. Its aim is to ensure that water is shared between different users, including the environment, in a sustainable way and in the national interest."


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