Environmental water must be left alone

By Country News

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