The Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists has publically called for a complete review of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority’s draft Basin Plan, labelling the underlying science as politically motivated and manipulated.


In a statement, the group accuses the Murray-Darling Basin Authority’s draft plan, released in November last year, of lacking in the ‘most basic information required’ to allow people to make informed decisions regarding the understand the implications or have confidence the Plan.


The group outlines the following shortcomings within the plan:


  • The Plan specifies a volume of water but it does not identify the volume of water required to deliver a healthy working river, as required by the Commonwealth Water Act;
  • The Plan cites river management infrastructure as the limiting factor however there is no assessment of the feasibility or cost of redesigning river management infrastructure (such as periodically flooding paddocks or raising the height of a bridge) so that a healthy working river can be delivered;
  • The Plan does not incorporate in the modelling the impact that increasing groundwater extractions by over 2,600GL will have on surface water flows, many of the groundwater systems in the Basin are linked to river systems;
  • The Plan sets long term diversion limits on the assumption that there is no risk to river health from climate change; and
  • There is no information presented on the effectiveness of the Plan to cope with long dry periods such as that experienced throughout the Basin during most of the last decade, or deliver the volumes of water required keep the Murray mouth open as a functioning (Ramsar listed) estuary and export the 2,000,000 tonnes of salt accumulating in the river system each year.


The group has accused the MDBA of failing to capatalise on the ‘significant progress’ gained in the understanding of the river system.


“This is bad policy built on a flawed, 19th Century world view, that environmental reform can only be achieved at the expense of the economy.  There are no winners in this old fashioned view,” the group said in a statement.


The group’s statement can be found here