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A drink to our Murray-Darling: it's been a long time between drinks but Ruchira Talukdar is hopeful we're ready to shout our river a thirst quenching round.

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2010 was a big year for the reform of the Murray-Darling with the release of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan Guide in October. The guide made it clear we need to stop overusing water for irrigation and put more water back into the river. It told us returning 3,000 billion litres (GL) of water will give us a low certainty of achieving a healthy river, while returning 7,600 billion litres (GL) will give us a high certainty.

Debate about putting water back into the Murray-Darling and protecting jobs and regional communities intensified. One of the first Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) information sessions held in Griffith NSW received a hostile public response. Media focused on the argument between jobs versus environment, overlooking long-term economic benefits of a healthy river.

In the weeks following its release parliamentary inquiries into social and economic impacts of proposed water-use reductions were announced in both houses of Parliament. The MDBA reacted, announcing it will consider returning the lowest range of water to the river system.

This response contradicts the Authority's own words: "The real possibility of environmental failure now threatens the long term economic and social viability of many industries ..."

A recent economic study by the MDBA shows that the economic benefits of returning the region to good health are large. The value of the Coorong at the mouth of the river is predicted to increase by $4.3 billion alone.

The majority of Australians are behind the plan. Eighty nine per cent of South Australians, where the worst impacts on the environment of upstream over-use of water have been felt, want all political leaders to stand up for a healthy Murray-Darling.

Key decisions over the fate of the Murray-Darling will be made this year. ACF will continue working with the Basin community, scientists, economists and other interest groups to ensure that governments return enough water to ensure a healthy river in the long-term.

The reform for returning our national icon and Australia's largest river-system to health will require the support of all Australians. To keep updated on the latest information visit www.acfonline.org.au/murray

Supporting the Murray

* Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke commits to water reform in the Murray-Darling Basin. There is a total of $12.9 billion of Federal Government money available for transforming the Basin towards a sustainable future.

* Minister for Regional Australia Simon Crean also commits to a healthy Murray-Darling and meets with community members wanting a healthy river.

* ACF released an economic assessment valuing benefits of restoring environmental services of the basins 16 internationally-significant wetlands at $2.1 billion.

* ACF makes a strong public case for long-term benefits and opportunities, and not just the costs, of a healthy river system.

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Murray needs a drink just add water

ACF staff, friends and supporters gathered outside Old Treasury House before the Melbourne information session on October 28 calling for a national plan that puts water back into the Murray. Murray got a drenching--just the way he likes it. View more images at www.acfonline.org.au/murray

All eyes on the Murray mouth

ACF has installed wetland cameras at three locations around Lake Alexandrina, SA, to transmit real time images. Recent rains have sent a lot of water down the Murray-Darling, flushing out the mouth via the Coorong and the Lower Lakes. Fish numbers have increased, birds have returned and community spirit has risen. But South Australians know that nothing can survive on one drink in a decade and that we have to 'Just Add Water'. View time lapse images at www.justaddwater.org.au
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Title Annotation:Campaigns
Author:Talukdar, Ruchira
Publication:Habitat Australia
Geographic Code:8AUST
Date:Jan 1, 2011
Words:599
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