Scientists blast government water policies

Source: Sydney Morning Herald


Leading scientists have blasted the Abbott government’s decision to scrap key bodies overseeing water reforms amid plunging reservoir levels, a looming El Nino and the longer-range threat posed by climate change.


The government said in the federal budget it would scrap the previously bipartisan-backed National Water Commission set up by the Howard government, and last year cut COAG’s Standing Council on Environment and Water.


John Williams, a founder of the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists, has criticised the changes. 

Precious commodity.

The current federal government appears intent on trashing the Howard heritage and retreating from its leadership legacy on national land and water policy,” Dr Williams wrote in the Australian Water Association’s newsletter.


Water concerns may intensify over the next year, with the Bureau of Meteorology’s annual National Water Account showing storage levels in the main populated regions dropped from 93 per cent in June 2012, to 75 per cent a year later. They are currently about 63 per cent.


The drop is even sharper for the Murray-Darling Basin, where storage levels have dived from 91 per cent two years ago to about 57.5 per cent, according to Grace Mitchell, a senior hydrologist with the bureau.


Drying in the east over the past 24 months.

Drying in the east over the past 24 months. Photo: BoM


The prospect of an El Nino weather event forming in the Pacific – which typically means below-average rainfall for much of Australia – could lead to more falls in storage levels, with less inflow and greater water use, particularly from farmers.


 ”There are some signals of lower rain to come,” Dr Mitchell said. “We do have periods of plenty and periods of not so much abundance, and one of those might be coming up.”

Read the full article in the Sydney Morning Herald.

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