Saturday, September 20, 2008

Scientists float water cuts to save Australia's rivers

Canberra Times: A group of Australia's leading scientists has called for a 50 per cent cut in water use across the drought-stricken Murray Darling Basin to secure its future. The Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists also wants the Federal Government to scrap its recent $5.8 billion investment in improving irrigation efficiency on farms across Australia's main food production region.

They suggest the funds be reallocated to the $3.1 billion water buyback program, allowing the Government to spend $9 billion over the next two years on buying water to restore the river system. The National Farmers Federation and the NSW Irrigators Council have rejected the suggestion as ''barely credible'', claiming it would devastate regional Australia.

The federation's water taskforce chairman Laurie Arthur said: ''You would have an explosion of investment by the Government that would overheat the market. There would be an almighty boom, followed by an almighty bust.'' NSW Irrigators Council chief executive Andrew Gregson said the plan would see 30 per cent of the population leave the basin…..

Feeding cotton seeds to cattle, New South Wales during a green drought, following a severe shortage of rain. Photo by Cgoodwin, Wikimedia Commons, under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2

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