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The Murray-Darling Basin

The parched Murray-Darling Basin

The rivers of the Murray-Darling system are drying out.

Credit: iStockphoto

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Anything else?

A restoration plan for the entire Basin is being devised, which will include stricter limits on water use. But it will not be ready until 2011, and some say it could be a case of too little, too late.

Other proposed remedies include releasing water from upstream dams (though with public dams barely meeting essential human needs at less than one quarter full, the water simply isn't there to give), and, as a last resort, flooding the lower regions with seawater to breathe some sort of life into the area.

So why don't we get on with it?

The strain on the Basin has also become quite political.

Queensland, for example, allowed irrigators to take a record amount of water from the system in the past year (twice the volume of Sydney Harbour), while other states operated on tight restrictions. This has led to much blame-placing and finger-pointing.

Victoria is also a focal point of tensions, refusing to lift tight restrictions on water trading which, according to the Australian Conservation Foundation, are keeping more than 7.3 billion litres of water from flowing through the system.

What can I do?

Reduce your own water use. Even if you don't take water directly from the Basin's rivers, do your bit to protect the water that's closest to you - the momentum for change starts everywhere.

Most importantly, have a voice. Show your local member of parliament that you care about the Basin and its rivers by having a chat or writing a letter.

Where can I read more?

The Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts
The Murray-Darling Basin Authority
Also check out G's news article on the latest findings about the health of the Basin here.

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