Unless you have been hiding under a rock for the last few years you would be aware of the many issues facing our farmers, towns and the environment in the vast region known as the Murray Darling Basin.
It is a complex beast but I am going to try and simplify things a little for you.
So in a nutshell
- The Federal Government uses your taxes to purchase water for environmental flows under the Murray Darling Basin Plan.
- Irrigators in northern NSW (like big cotton) take advantage of the lax and unenforced state rules to legally and illegally pump this environmental water into massive holding dams on their properties. (This practice is exposed in the Four Corners program).
- Less water reaches the massive storage system in the Menindee Lakes near Pooncarie.
- This means less water from the Darling flows into the Murray River.
- This "missing" water then has to be "topped up" by Victorian Rivers like the Goulburn to keep water flowing downstream for the big Almond growers and for South Australia.
The end result is there for us all to see,
- Victoria (who regulates its water resources very well) is cheated out of our water which is necessary for our farmers, towns and environment.
- Goulburn and Murray River flows have been unseasonably high all summer causing environmental damage and making many favourite summer campsites/beaches unusable for fishing and camping thus reducing the economic flow-on for many country towns reliant on the summer influx of visitors.
- Vast swathes of once highly productive dairy country to the north of Shepparton is now just brown stubble as farmers trade their water downstream where it fetches a higher price.
I don't know what the answer is but I am sure that (apart from some marginal land like parts of Kerang and Swan Hill regions), water should NEVER have been uncoupled from the land.
Intervalley water trading is, and always will be unsustainable.
The only winners are the water barons and entities like Eastern Australia Irrigation (who are registered in the tax haven of the Cayman Islands).
Australia, its environment and its people are the losers.
When are we going to see some politicians with the "balls" to fix this problem?
For more information on this issue I suggest that you watch the following Four Corners investigation.
Then follow this up by reading independent journalist Michael Wests' investigation into the apparent rorting of this scheme.