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Published: 16 April 2018   •   Media release

The Murray–Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) welcomes a release of water for the environment in the northern Basin, announced today by the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder (CEWH), and the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH).

Acting MDBA Executive Director, Dr Peta Derham, said the environmental release, in the Barwon-Darling, was a great example of how coordination of environmental watering activities, and protections for environmental water are supporting positive ecological outcomes in the northern Basin.

“This release of environmental water will help maintain connectivity of river systems across the Northern Basin—something which we know is of particular importance for the ecological health of the Basin and local communities,” Dr Derham said.

 “The need for better protections for environmental water and small flows was identified in the MDBA’s Northern Basin Review, and later reiterated in the compliance reviews undertaken by the MDBA and Ken Matthews.

“The Northern Basin Amendments were contingent upon a ‘toolkit’ of measures agreed by the Commonwealth, NSW and Queensland governments that included a commitment to put in place better protections for these important flows.

“I am very pleased that, despite the disallowance of the Amendments which these measures were tied to, work to progress them has continued.

“The NSW government recently commenced stakeholder consultation on ways to address increasing metering, improving transparency, protecting environmental water and measuring flood plain harvesting.

“This is an important step on the path to delivering enduring protections for environmental water and ecologically important small flows.

“We also welcome the immediate steps taken by NSW to protect these flows in the short term, by issuing a Ministerial Order to ensure the water is not pumped and makes it through the system.

“The recent rains in Queensland are providing a good foundation for the event which will extend the current flows by up to six weeks to support native fish and their habitat. We expect the flows to provide connectivity in the system and make it as far as the Menindee Lakes.

“I understand there has been strong support from landholders and others in the region for this release of water for the environment and sustained interest in learning from the monitoring that will be undertaken.

“This is exactly how the Basin Plan was always intended to work—it was designed to adapt and respond to new information or emerging issues. 

“The collaboration on this environmental watering event underlines the commitment of all parties to improve policy settings, use water smarter, and get the balance right between competing water use needs.

“Without the Basin Plan, it is unlikely these important policy reforms would have been undertaken—underlining the fact that the Basin Plan is working and delivering real benefits for the environment, communities and industries in the Basin.”

ENDS

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