Communicating with one’s head in the sand… are we being heard?

When the revised draft of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority’s Plan was released in May this year there was much controversy between the Authority, the politicians and the scientists as to how the water allocations would stand up against the dwindling health of the river system. How could taking back approximately 2750 billion L/year of water, while handing out 4340GL/year of groundwater prove sustainable when that 4340GL/year ultimately impacting the surface water volume of the system?

 new garden

Murray River during a time of low water levels.

Original Image by: dw47

Murray River at Swan Reach, South Australia just weeks after the region was flooded (April 2012).

Original Image by: Danielle Pedler

Ok so I thought I’d try something a little different for today’s blog. It actually runs on from something I mentioned previously about the lack of good strong communication between different sectors and how lack of understanding can lead to distrust, which can ultimately stand in the way of important developments.

The first issue… if you have ever tried to read one of the released Plans you will know that they are not necessarily a straightforward document simply stating all the facts. You get directed from one chapter to another chapter, from one schedule to another schedule. By the time you reach the end (if you have the patience to read that many pages) you don’t know if you are coming or going. Now I certainly am not trying to insult anyone, but not everyone who has a vested interest in the management of the Murray-Darling Basin is scientifically trained, in fact the majority are most likely early school leavers who have been working the land since they were old enough to walk and without them our country would not be what it is today. But the point I am trying to make is that just making the document available to the public via the web or even printed copies does not mean you have successfully communicated with each and every person of interest.

According to the MDBA, sustainable diversion limits (SDL’s) refer to the limits on the volume of water that can be removed from the system for human use from both surface and ground water stores across the Basin (methods report). The Water Act, on which the MDBA was formed, requires that the volume of water removed from the system is reflective of an environmentally sustainable level.

Since the release of the revised draft many have responded about what they believe to be unfair, unjust, and most likely underestimated numbers. But it has been the scientists, including the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists, who have stepped forward to state their objections. In an interview with “Adelaide Now” they called for the revised Plan to be rejected, going so far as to say that the Authority’s figures appear to have been “plucked out of the air” and the scientific basis for the revisions does not appear to be substantial despite a report published by the Wentworth Group in June 2010.

And we come to the second issue… one can talk and talk about their passions and knowledge until they are blue in the face, but it won’t have any impact if no one is listening.The solution… find a way to get people to listen!!!

If you are not sure about the benefits of groundwater check this out… The Groundwater Story

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