Locals say good intentions doing damage
Farmers and residents on the banks of the Goulburn River have complained that environmental flows released under the Murray Darling Basin Plan may be damaging its banks.
Reports of erosion, banks breaking and native grasses dying have come from a number of sources along the Goulburn.
Pig farmer David Miles says letting the water out in summer rather than winter has led to the destruction of banks up to three metres back from the water.
“All perennial grasses and annual grasses are dying,” he said.
“The acacias up to the level the environmental flows reached are now all dead.
“I don't think that would have been their choice, but now the bank is slipping in and eroding.
“It's eroded more in just over 12 months than it did in just over 27 years,” he said.
The flows will keep coming under the protocols of the Murray Darling plan, which will allow at least 2,750 gigalitres of water to be used as environmental flow.
The amount is considerably larger than has been allowed in previous years, with the Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority saying it is still learning how much water to give and how much to hold each year.
Cameras have been set up to monitor banks for damage, but Authority CEO Chris Norman says residents should not be alarmed, as some changes were expected.
“There has always been impacts on the streams through any flows, so it's actually a natural event that the river is affected by flows up and down,” Mr Norman said.
“So you do see slumping and erosion, it's quite a natural process.”
But Mr Miles is wary of complacency, saying the issue is worsening.
“The river is going to get bigger and bigger, which it doesn't need to do. Trees that wouldn't have fallen in are starting to fall in now,” Miles said.
“I just hope that somebody sees that this is a real disaster.”