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Listening and learning in the Lachlan Valley

Building collaborative relationships with Basin communities lays the groundwork for the shared effort our future challenges demand.
Published: 24 June 2022

The Murray–Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) and partner Australian Government agencies have been out this week in the Lachlan Valley in New South Wales to hear first-hand from communities about what matters most to them in water management.

MDBA Authority Chair Sir Angus Houston led the 3-day tour that kicked off in Cowra on Monday before travelling to Forbes, Condobolin, Parkes, and Reids Flat. This was Sir Angus’s eighth listening tour during his time as Chair of the Authority.

“The knowledge and lived experience of farmers, industry, community representatives, and First Nations people in the Lachlan Valley is critical to improving water management in the Basin,” Sir Angus said. “By listening to and learning from each other we can work together to secure the future of the region and the healthy river system that’s at the heart of the Basin Plan.”

Image (above): Left to right: MDBA Chair Sir Angus Houston, a/g Chief Executive Mr Andrew Reynolds, Mr Peter Thomas (Regional Engagement Officer), Matthew Dadswell (Department of Agriculture, Water, and the Environment) and Hilton Taylor (Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder), take a tour of Wyangala dam

Sir Angus Houston meeting with local farmers
Sir Angus and the group met with local farmers in Reids Flat to hear their views on the proposed Wyangala Dam upgrade project.

The tour heard from locals about the key issues of water security, groundwater decline, and the proposed Wyangala dam wall raising. The group also attended the ‘Listening to the Lachlan’ conference dinner in Forbes, where they enjoyed the chance to meet people passionate about their communities and the environmental health of the Lachlan.

This included the Wiradjuri Condobolin Corporation (WCC), who met with the group the following day. Representatives from the WCC discussed their initiatives to build smart, sustainable economies in the region and develop pathways to employment opportunities for locals.

A group of people sitting around a table, having a meeting
The group meet with Ally Coe (standing), the General Manager of the Wiradjuri Condobolin Corporation, as well as TAFE and business partners who demonstrate the success of the Corporation in pathways to employment initiatives introduced in the Condobolin area.

Recent rain has provided a boost for the environment as well as the local economy, which in many parts is still dealing with the legacy of drought and the COVID-19 pandemic. Deliveries of water for the environment have also contributed to the health of the key ecological sites in the region, which include nationally significant wetlands such as the Great Cumbung Swamp.

However, as Sir Angus told attendees at the recent River reflections conference earlier this month, adapting to a hotter and drier climate overall is something all parts of the Basin will have to grapple with, and leaves us no choice but to work together, and pull in the same direction.

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