En­vi­ron­men­tal wa­ter must be left alone

Shepparton News - Country News - - OPINION -

Politi­cians and ir­ri­ga­tors must re­spect the in­de­pen­dence of the Com­mon­wealth En­vi­ron­men­tal Wa­ter Holder and sus­pend the cur­rent cam­paign to have en­vi­ron­men­tal wa­ter trans­ferred to ir­ri­ga­tion in­ter­ests.

Wa­ter held by CEWH is the re­sult of ei­ther early al­lo­ca­tions of high se­cu­rity en­ti­tle­ments or wa­ter car­ried over to ser­vice planned en­vi­ron­men­tal needs for this sea­son.

The CEWH has not re­ceived any NSW gen­eral se­cu­rity wa­ter al­lo­ca­tions to date, as is the case with ir­ri­ga­tors, and should not be ex­pected to spon­sor ir­ri­ga­tion needs.

The CEWH has the abil­ity to trade wa­ter at any time if hold­ing sup­plies in ex­cess of en­vi­ron­men­tal needs and not im­pact­ing the on­go­ing health of the en­vi­ron­ment. This is a de­ci­sion that has to be made by the CEWH in­de­pen­dent of po­lit­i­cal pres­sure of any type and based on the best avail­able sci­ence.

Les­sons learned dur­ing the mil­len­nium drought when en­vi­ron­men­tal wa­ter was ‘‘loaned’’ to NSW and Vic­to­rian ir­ri­ga­tors and could not be re­paid as the drought con­tin­ued should not be for­got­ten.

This loan re­sulted in less than one per cent of the to­tal wa­ter con­sumed left avail­able to the en­vi­ron­ment in 2006-07 as the drought con­tin­ued, and had se­ri­ous en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pacts es­pe­cially in the Lower Mur­ray and lakes re­gions.

Only the CEWH can, and should, be mak­ing crit­i­cal de­ci­sions on the use of en­vi­ron­men­tal wa­ter, free of po­lit­i­cal in­fer­ence, and al­ways with the in­ter­ests of the en­vi­ron­ment tak­ing pri­or­ity. — John Pettigrew, Goul­burn Val­ley En­vi­ron­ment Group pres­i­dent

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