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Steel and concrete cannot replace actual environmental flows, the Australian Conservation Foundation said in a submission to a federal government Inquiry that closes today.
The House of Representatives Regional Australia Committee is investigating the role of environmental works and measures – infrastructure designed to direct water to environmental assets – that vested interests claim can vastly reduce the amount of water returned to the environment under the Basin Plan.
“The Basin’s rivers and wetlands need more water to survive and concrete alone is not going to solve the problem,” said ACF Healthy Ecosystems Program Manager Paul Sinclair.
“In some cases, environmental works and measures can supplement environmental flows but they are no substitute for delivering actual water.
“It’s wrong to think environmental works and measures can somehow offset the amount of water needed to restore the Basin’s rivers and wetlands to health.
“The Basin’s rivers and wetlands need more water to survive and concrete alone is not going to solve the problem”
“There are some instances where infrastructure can help by allowing fish movement or guiding water flows to high priority environmental assets, but what the Basin really needs is enough water for these processes to be able to happen naturally.
“In its current form, the Basin Plan does not provide enough water to reach many Ramsar listed wetlands and ecologically significant floodplains.
“The Environment Minister Tony Burke must ask the Murray-Darling Basin Authority to immediately model the effects of returning higher volumes of environmental water, particularly 4 000 gigalitres.
“Failing to model higher volumes of environmental water makes it impossible to understand the trade-offs that are being made,” Dr Sinclair said.