News

Stop the water spin cycle

By Rodney Woods

Spin and fake news has been the basis of many letters and opinions in Country News over the past months in an attempt to undermine the value of environmental flows in the Goulburn and Murray rivers.

I believe these views to be either based on misinformation, or more troubling, designed to deliberately mislead in stating that environmental flows are damaging our rivers, wetlands and riverine forest environments.

This season state and federal environmental water holders, like all irrigators, are severely limited by low water allocations, and wetlands and floodplain watering is at desperately low levels.

There has been no uncontrolled flooding of the Barmah wetlands, no drowning of red gum forests, no unnatural damage to the Barmah Choke and no damage to the Goulburn River caused by passing environmental flows.

Sections of Barmah National Park’s best remaining Moira grass and nationally threatened river swamp wallaby-grass wetlands missed out on flooding this season.

Red gums don’t drown in spring flooding events, this is natural, and damage to red gums is far more likely to be caused by standing in unnatural summer flows over extended periods.

The Barmah Choke is arguably the youngest section of river in the Murray-Darling Basin and as such in very much a formation/developing phase bringing with it natural erosion and change.

Naturally this section would have had many more annual low water flow events and drying time over summer months to assist with bank stability but is now required to flow at full bank levels almost all year round.

The timing and volume of environmental flows do not unnaturally impact on the choke.

Given the nature of the choke and associated wetlands, it’s unlikely, even during severe droughts; the wetlands of Barmah would have gone without some degree of natural watering, due to storm events in upper catchments.

Without environmental flows the Goulburn River would be little more than a channel supplying high summer flows to service downstream irrigation requirements.

Just as water is of high value to irrigators in seasons such as this, it is also the case for the environment.

By all means debate the use of our water resources but please stick to the facts; the general public deserves no less.

John Pettigrew

Goulburn Valley Environment Group president