Farmers, fishers, environmentalists, artists and other local community members will gather at the Murray Mouth on May Day to send an SOS to Canberra ahead of a crucial vote.
On 8 May the Senate will decide whether to reduce real water for our precious southern Murray-Darling Basin by 605GL to divert it to industry. We are sending out a mayday for our rivers to ensure they get the water they need.
'This real water is to be replaced by projects that will supposedly deliver equivalent environmental benefits, but there are doubts about how effective they will be' said Elizabeth Tregenza from the River Lakes and Coorong Action Group.
'And with all the problems with corruption and water theft happening in the Basin at the moment how can we trust that these projects will be delivered properly?’ asked Ms Tregenza.
'South Australia was promised an additional 450GL of water as a condition of signing on to the Murray Darling Basin Plan so that it could keep the Murray Mouth open, but it now seems like this is slipping through our fingers' said Craig Wilkins Chief Executive of Conservation Council SA.
'No amendments to the plan should be made unless we can guarantee that the proposed projects will be effective and that the 450GL is locked in. We are sending a strong message to our Senators to stand up for the whole Murray-Darling system, from source to sea, by ensuring we get the best possible outcome from the plan for all’ said Mr Wilkins.
‘Our elected representatives have silenced the UN’s criticism of how the Australian government is looking after our most important river system. We need more rigor, not less in the Murray Darling Basin Plan. That’s why these projects need basic standards that make sure these projects won’t harm our rivers,’ said Kelly O’Shanassy, CEO of the Australian Conservation Foundation.’
"Big irrigation companies taking unsustainable amounts of water from the Murray Darling Basin is a disaster," said Peter Owen, Director of the Wilderness Society South Australia.
“Dredges in the Murray Mouth are currently keeping the river on life support, due to a lack of water flow. Australia is failing its international obligations to protect the globally significant RAMSAR listed Lower Lakes and Coorong estuary".
"The only way to flush out to sea the millions of tonnes of salt that gets deposited in the river every year, is to significantly increase environmental flows by reducing the amount of water taken for irrigation. We must do this or the Murray Darling Basin will die," said Mr Owen.