During the past month there has been a tributary flood event in the Macquarie Valley resulting in a moderate but valuable volume of water (approximately 26,000 megalitres) making its way down to the drought ravaged Macquarie Marshes.
Over 30% of this water was delivered away from the publicly owned Nature Reserves into the Gum Cowal/Terrigal system than runs down the eastern side of the Macquarie Marshes. This system has been receiving almost annual flooding throughout the drought. All this system is on privately owned country and as can be seen from the following images, the water is simply being diverted out onto the flood plain to grow fodder for cattle.
The following images show only two examples of the many diversions that are occurring.
Sadly, while this is happening, the two Nature Reserves originally selected for their key ecological values and owned by the people of NSW, lie starved for water and are in a significantly worse state having missed out on much of the so called environmental flows that have been despatched to the Marshes over a considerable period. Mr Hogendyk, Chair of Macquarie River Food and Fibre (MRFF) says this situation is absurd. “We are losing these iconic wetlands yet everyone involved is closing their eyes to the real cause of the problems.
Government and NGOs are simply focused on attacking the irrigation industry and buying more water entitlements while continuing to deliver water without understanding how it is being managed and diverted in the Marshes. ”
Mr Whittaker, executive member of MRFF adds “even when water does get directed to the Nature Reserves, both have large embankments upstream of them robbing them of much of their water. Has anyone assessed the impact of these banks?”
“Furthermore, of the water that does get into the Northern Nature Reserve, much of the water passes down the Bora channel system to the west rather than down the Macquarie River system. This deprives the core reed beds of much of their water” he said. The Bora channel prior to 1980 used to carry only 30% of the Macquarie River flows, now it carries 70%.
It is time all parties involved with the Marshes sat down and worked out an effective protocol for the long term by understanding the real issues and taking ownership of what are questionable practices and diversions. It is no longer acceptable for government, NGOs and some scientists to make judgements from afar that bear no resemblance to what is really the underlying problem.
from Chris Hogendyk
Chair of Macquarie River Food and Fibre
I have written about the marshes here for OLO: http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=4377
And there are more blog posts here: http://www.jennifermarohasy.com/faq.php?id=14&category=17