States fight over extraction
An interstate stoush is emerging between the New South Wales and Queensland Governments over irrigators extracting water from potential river flows.
The NSW Government put a pre-emptive embargo on northern Murray-Darling Basin rivers within its jurisdiction, so that when it rains over the catchment area, water will flow the length of the system.
But NSW water minister Melinda Pavey has accused Queensland irrigators of extracting water from key rivers and preventing flows from crossing the border.
“NSW has done all the heavy lifting when it comes to the responsible management of our waterways, but Queensland isn't playing ball,” Ms Pavey said.
Significant rains are hitting the Darling River's northern tributaries for the first time in more than a year.
“We want it to get to Menindee, we want it to get all the way down to the South Australian border. We need a big first flush of the river system. This drought has been unprecedented,” Ms Pavey said.
The NSW Government says it has seen proof in the form of satellite imagery.
Queensland natural resources minister Anthony Lynham has accused the NSW Government of “spying”.
“Our water plans include improved protections for the rights of all water users, as well as rules that protect important environmental flows,” Dr Lynham said in a statement.
“This means that when it does rain, the available water will be shared fairly and equitably, and water users will take no more than their fair share.
“Having the rules embedded in our water plans mean that we do not need ad hoc restrictions and embargoes, such as those brought in by the NSW Water Minister, which undermine community confidence.
“For them to raise the issue again shows they really just want to distract and blame others for their own failings.”