Trading away sustainable water is a blow to rural Australia

When you start selling off water, you’re winding back the small achievements that have been made to restore health to the Murray-Darling basin. Farming communities will lose out

Lee Rhiannon
theguardian.com, Monday 20 January 2014

Water trading cannot deal with the enormity of the problems confronting the Murray-Darling Basin. The current heatwave moving across inland Australia, the severe impacts of climate change and the years of over allocation of water for unsustainable agricultural practices add up to a massive burden that needs a planned sustainable response, not a market trading policy, which is why the Coalition’s planned water sell off for the Murray-Darling Basin is a blow to rural Australia. This move will mean that a few irrigators will benefit to the detriment of rural communities and the environment.

Senator Birmingham, parliamentary secretary for the environment, is being deceptive by maintaining that this trading will not be at the expense of the environment or impact on the government’s commitment to the water plan. When you start selling off water, you’re winding back the small achievements that have been made in terms of restoring health to the Murray-Darling basin. Regardless of where you take the water from, removing it from the system will be particularly detrimental to South Australia.

Where the water will be sourced from for these first sell offs will determine its value, and so give direction to the market. It has been reported that the Environmental Water Holder has suggested that water trading will commence in the Lachlan and Macquarie valleys in western NSW. The famous Macquarie marshes were one of the first casualties of the ignorant environmental stance of the Coalition. Last year, the Abbott government used their numbers in the house of representatives to remove protection for Murray-Darling ecological communities.

Environment minister Greg Hunt, in deciding to accept the advice of the National Irrigators Council over the Threatened Species Scientific Committee, not only cemented the anti-science attitude of this government but has broken with the convention of scientific impartiality followed by all previous environment ministers. In removing this key protection for the Murray-Darling, the government has failed to recognise that the health of river and floodplain ecosystems is the foundation on which the viability and long term well-being of towns and local economies rests.

This damaging policy will come at the expense of regional communities, and is driven by the Coalition’s unwillingness to concentrate revenue raising on agri-businesses and big companies. Its earlier decision to slow the rate of water buybacks further compounds this damaging policy. Buying back water has been an effective way to recover water for the environment.

During the election campaign, Barnaby Joyce committed the government to capping water buybacks at 1,500 gigalitres, when the science is saying we need 4,000 back into the system. The Coalition policy lets the big irrigators and up river states off the hook. It has turned the clock back on the equitable use of Murray-Darling Basin water resources and maintaining the health and resilience of the river and its ecosystems. For all the bluster from Coalition MPs, farming communities will lose out.

The Murray-Darling basin generates 39% of the national income that comes from agricultural production. Food production, farm viability and rural enterprises need healthy wetlands, floodplains and rivers to deliver real benefits to rural communities and local economies.

Read the article at the Guardian.

Maude Barlow’s “Blue Future” Book Launch in Calgary!

 

calgarybluefuturebarloweventWhen: Thursday, October 31, 2013

Where: Wickenden Hall – Unitarian Church of Calgary 1701 1st St. NW

See the facebook event page…

Blue Future is a powerful, penetrating, and timely look at the global water crisis — and what we can do to prevent it. The final installment in Barlow’s Blue trilogy, Blue Future includes inspiring stories of struggle and resistance from marginalized communities, as well as examples of government policies that work for people and the planet. A call to action to create a water-secure world, it is, in the end, a book of hope.

Copies of Blue Future will be available for purchase, and Maude will be signing books after her presentation.

For more information on Blue Future, visit http://www.houseofanansi.com/Blue-Future-P2172.aspx

This event is co-sponsored by Council of Canadians Calgary Chapter and Pages Books on Kensington.

Read also Barlow’s article on Rabble.ca - It’s time for a new water ethic

Maude Barlow’s “Blue Future” Book Launch in Edmonton!

BookTour-PosterTemplate - Edmonton.indd

Join the Council of Canadians for an evening with Maude Barlow at the Edmonton book launch of her new book, Blue Future: Protecting Water for People and the Planet Forever.

Blue Future is a powerful, penetrating, and timely look at the global water crisis — and what we can do to prevent it. The final installment in Barlow’s Blue trilogy, Blue Future includes inspiring stories of struggle and resistance from marginalized communities, as well as examples of government policies that work for people and the planet. A call to action to create a water-secure world, it is, in the end, a book of hope.

Copies of Blue Future will be available for purchase, and Maude will be signing books after her presentation.

For more information on Blue Future, visit http://www.houseofanansi.com/Blue-Future-P2172.aspx
About the Author:This event is co-sponsored by Council of Canadians U of A Chapter, Council of Canadians Edmonton Chapter, Parkland Institute and the Our Water Is Not For Sale Network.

Maude Barlow is the author of sixteen books, including the international bestsellers Blue Gold: The Fight to Stop the Corporate Threat of the World’s Water (co-written with Tony Clarke) and Blue Covenant: The Global Water Crisis and the Coming Battle for the Right to Water. She is currently the National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians. She served as Senior Advisor on Water to the 63rd President of the United Nations General Assembly and was a leader in the campaign to have water recognized as a human right by the UN. She lives in Ottawa, Ontario.

For more information, email aloney@canadians.org

Facebook Event - https://www.facebook.com/events/650854798272681/

Read also Barlow’s article on Rabble.ca - It’s time for a new water ethic

Albertans quiet on water talk

Caroline Zentner, lethbridge herald, July 15, 2013.

czentner@lethbridgeherald.com

The province recently held consultations about Alberta’s water allocation system but it seems most Albertans didn’t know it.

A poll conducted by a coalition of organizations, called the “Our Water is Not for Sale Network,” showed eight in 10 Albertans were unaware that these water conversations were being held.…

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