Australia: Western Rivers Report Under Consideration

Western Rivers Report Under Consideration

Maintaining the integrity of rivers and protecting the environment form the basis of a report into the future management of Queensland’s Georgina, Diamantina and Cooper Creek catchments, released today.

Minister for Natural Resources and Mines Andrew Cripps said the report prepared by the Western Rivers Advisory Panel (WRAP) examines a range of issues integral to sustainably managing these important river systems.

The Newman Government recognises there is strong community interest in the future management of these Western Rivers,” Mr Cripps said.

“The WRAP report contains a number of recommendations that I will be considering carefully over coming weeks.”

Key recommendations made by the panel include:

– There should be no further ‘take’ over and above that which exists in the current water plans for irrigation development in the Cooper Creek catchment and Lake Eyre Basin;

– Irrigation should not be authorised if it has the potential to reduce/interfere with natural flows;

– A framework should be adopted that allows dredging operations in those areas of the Lake Eyre Basin that will not compromise the Basin’s natural assets and the integrity of its rivers, tributaries and floodplains;

– Petroleum and gas development requirements must include protection against pollution of the river systems and contamination of the groundwater systems.

The panel recommended that, to implement the recommendations, the Government should consider either amending the Water Act 2000 or the Environmental Protection Act or introduce new legislation to protect the natural assets and values of the Basin.

Other recommendations from the WRAP panel included more comprehensive spatial mapping of natural assets and areas to be protected; that adequate volumes of town water be made available to take account of future population growth; and that consideration be given to ongoing community consultation once a new management framework is implemented.

Mr Cripps thanked the panel for its hard work and said this report provided valuable community feedback.

“The members of the Western Rivers Advisory Panel have devoted considerable time and have drawn on their knowledge and experience in land and resource management of the Lake Eyre Basin to prepare this report,” he said.

“I will now consider the report’s recommendations and use them to develop an alternative strategy for protecting and sustainably managing these important rivers.”

[mappress]

Press Release, July 2, 2013

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