Thursday, September 3, 2009

River Murray in Australia faces impending disaster

Greg Kelton in Adelaide Now (Australia): Environment Minister Jay Weatherill has accused upstream states of consistent "abuse" of the River Murray, with the system now facing "an impending disaster". In a keynote address to a Murray-Darling Association national conference in Adelaide, Mr Weatherill said looking at the Lower Lakes now was "literally shocking".

"It shocks you to realise how little water is there," he said to the more than 100 delegates at the conference. "All of the most recent decisions we've made in the Lower Lakes we've made as crisis decisions - the work that must be done to prevent as much damage as possible."

Mr Weatherill said he hoped SA's experiences were not replicated through the Murray-Darling Basin. "SA has, on repeated occasions, warned the upstream states of the impending disaster," he told the conference. "Rivers die from the mouth back - the Lower Lakes are not the only part of the Murray-Darling system that is suffering. "So many wetlands throughout the system are in the same situation."

Delegates at the conference will be taken on a tour of the drought-hit Lower Lakes for a first-hand examination of the problems confronting the communities in the region. Association general manager Ray Najar said water security should be given the same priority as tackling climate change and dangerous emissions.

Opposition water security spokesman Mitch Williams said the comments from Mr Weatherill were just ludicrous. "It fascinates me that Jay Weatherill has the temerity to blame the upstream states when for seven years he has been part of a government which has done so little on the water crisis," he said….

Swan Hill Bridge over the River Murray, shot by Marcus Wong (Wongm), Wikimedia Commons, under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2

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