"The scientists cite changing baselines, data omissions and unexplained increases to groundwater allocations as some examples of how the draft Basin Plan is inadequate or misleading. Their take home message is that the current draft Plan will use $9 billion of Australian taxpayers funds and fail to deliver the Authority's own environmental targets for the river", said Tim Kelly, CE of the Conservation Council SA.
In November, the CSIRO scientists who reviewed the MDBA's methodology confirmed that the modelled scenario of 2,800GL SDLs "does not achieve the majority of the hydrologic targets", and "is not consistent with the currently stated environmental goals".
"The Wentworth Group point out that the best publically available science presented in the 2010 Guide to the draft said that 3,856 - 6,983 GL of water needed to be recovered from consumptive use, and there has been no new scientific breakthrough since that time", said Mr Kelly.
"The removal of basic information that was in the 2010 Guide to the draft makes it impossible for the community, scientists or Parliament to understand the implications of the proposed plan. "
"Like the Wentworth Group, we are very concerned that the draft Plan does not take into account projected climate change, or even drought scenarios like the one we have recently experienced. How can this be justified? Being able to adjust allocations to adapt to drought cycles and climate change is obviously essential for maintaining a healthy working river."
"There is no rational reason for a three year delay in facing what the science is telling us right now: the river needs more than 2750 GL to recover. What the draft Basin Plan does not do is tell us how much more and this is unacceptable. The MDBA should now provide the information on how much more water is required to actually achieve the hydrological targets and environmental goals."
The Plan must ensure the Basin's two million tonne salt load is flushed out to sea annually, and ensure adequate flows to maintain water quality to all users across the Basin, including the lower system. It must provide flows for the Lower Lakes, Coorong and mouth to function properly and maintain the unique character of the internationally-protected Ramsar site."
"The draft Plan put out by the MDBA fails to ensure these things, and worst still it is not open and transparent about the science and outcomes," said Mr Kelly.
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