Water

People power push

By Alana Christensen

A push to pause the Murray-Darling Basin Plan continues to gain momentum, with another community meeting planned this week.

The Southern Riverina Irrigators will hold a meeting in Barooga on Wednesday night, calling for the ‘‘wrecking ball’’ plan to be paused, reviewed and fixed to stop damage to communities and the environment.

The Pause the Plan meeting follows similar meetings in Barham, Deniliquin and Tongala recently, with SRI saying they will highlight the flaws in the basin plan.

SRI deputy chair Darcy Hare said the momentum the campaign had generated in a short time was quite unbelievable, but not surprising.

‘‘There is an unprecedented level of frustration across our regions at a basin plan that is failing on almost every count,’’ Mr Hare said.

‘‘A whole host of reports and studies continue to highlight its shortcomings, yet we have governments who are sitting on their hands doing nothing.

‘‘We need support from the grassroots to turn this around. We believe people power is the only way we can convince politicians that we will not sit back and accept this debacle any longer.’’

The Barooga meeting will include a presentation on the current status of the basin plan and why it needs to be paused and reviewed as well as questions and a call for support.

Mr Hare said the meeting was expected to go for less than two hours.

‘‘It is not a long meeting, but it may be the most important meeting you will attend not only this year, but for years to come. As a community we cannot allow the present situation to continue,’’ he said.

‘‘It is beyond comprehension that our region remains on zero allocation, while at the same time water is being poured down the system to South Australia at such a rate that it is flooding into the forests. This has not only wasted more than 300000Gl over summer, it is causing damage to the Murray River and providing ideal breeding conditions for European carp, which we were supposed to be trying to eliminate.

‘‘Governments and the Murray-Darling Basin Authority must be held to account for the disaster they call a basin plan.

‘‘It’s not a plan, it’s a wrecking ball. How can a civilised society accept the wastage of 300000Gl, and at the same time prioritise water for boating regattas in South Australia at the expense of food production and the environment? It must stop.

‘‘As a region, if we are to win this battle we must work and fight together.’’

■The Pause the Plan meeting will be held at 7pm on Wednesday, March 20, at Sporties Barooga, 10 Burkinshaw St, Barooga.