Communities celebrate flows in the Darling River
A recent article by ABC's Aimee Volkofsky and Saskia Mabin revealed that the community of Wilcannia in far-western New South Wales has been celebrating substantial Darling (Baaka) River flows following the recent deluge of rain in Northern NSW and Queensland.
This is welcome news, following a three-year drought and claims that over-extraction has significantly reduced water flows in the Darling River.
But although the local Council estimates that current flows could see the town's water supply secure for at least 12 months, pressure on the Government remains to transform the way water is prioritised in the Murray-Darling system.
UNSW-GWI helped to address the complex issues within the basin by hosting a forum on the Future of the Murray Darling Basin in 2019, where voices from the far-west discussed the issues faced and actions that could be taken to support healthy ecosystems and communities in the region.
UNSW Centre for Ecosystem Science Director Professor Richard Kingsford, who participated in the Forum, said recently that while the recent rains spelt good news for Darling communities and ecosystems, they will only offer a short-term reprieve.
"The recent rains are bringing much needed flows to the Darling River, but this still doesn’t adequately address the long-term decline of this river,” said Professor Kingsford.
“Key policy issues relating to the management of floodplain harvesting and enabling flows to reach downstream ecosystems and communities are essential to the overall health of this nationally important river. We aren’t going to effectively avoid future fish kills without more water in this river”.
Prof Kingsford’s comments refer to a major 2019 event at Menindee, downstream from Wilcannia, where up to a million fish were killed due to reduced flows.
Communities and environmental experts continue to lobby authorities to better balance the water needs of people, culture and the environment with those of the agriculture industry.