"Australia is experiencing a water emergency, and nowhere are the problems as complex and as urgent then in the Murray Darling Basin."
Speaking today at the launch of the Australian Greens Murray Darling initiative in Adelaide, Senator Rachel Siewert said: "What is needed is nothing less than a change in the way we think about water, the way we coexist with the river, and the way we share this limited, precious resource."
"Inflows to the Murray Darling are at their lowest in 116 years, irrigation allocations are at an all time low, and we have even less water in storage this summer than last year," said Senator Siewert.
"We need to act immediately to address over-allocation and provide significant support to help landholders and basin communities transition to sustainable new enterprises. There is an urgent need for governments to act to prevent a serious tragedy for our community and a disaster for the environment."
"We have already lost up to 90% of the wetlands in the basin, native bird numbers have declined by a staggering 80% in the last 25 years, and many farming families fear this could be their last season on the land," she said.
The Greens' plan includes immediate action to address over-allocation, the creation of an independent water management authority and immediate purchase of water for the environment.
"We need a whole-of-basin plan with hydrological integrity in which all water extraction and use is accounted. The science at the moment tells us we need 3500GL for a good chance for the Murray to recover. We need to ensure flows for the end of the system that guarantees a sustainable watering regime for the Coorong."
"It will never be business as usual for the Murray Darling. We need to accept that and start working on our future."
"We don't want to see farmers walking off the land but without a comprehensive, sustainable plan, the Government is making that decision for them," concluded Senator Siewert.