Lake Eyre Basin Rivers 142 remained largely parochial. The Queensland Government showed further contempt for transparency and equity by appointing a local irrigator as the facilitator to the newly formed ministerial advisory council, charged with implementing the water resource plan and the resource operation plans. There were inevitable beneficiaries from the licensing of overland flows. Our consistent requests for an independent facilitator were ignored. We would like to see the complete abolition of overland flow allocations. We want an annual volumetric cap placed on all water harvesting, replacing the current practice of filling up irrigation storages with flows above a threshold, regardless of how many times the river flows. We want pumps to be metered and diversions policed. Water has been pumped illegally from stock and domestic flow, but no one has ever been convicted of any offence. Flows must be allowed to run right through the rivers before water extractions are permitted. There also needs to be improved communication between the Queensland water agency and landholders downstream. No repayment of water by downstream users should be made to irrigators. Flows are marginally increased under the Murray–Darling Basin Plan, but long- term consequences and damage remain. The recommendations of the Northern Basin Review continue to reinforce the inequities, with the irrigation industry largely convincing the Murray–Darling Basin Authority that the 390 GL of water to be returned to the environment under the Murray–Darling Basin Plan should be cut by ~30% in the Condamine–Balonne (Murray–Darling Basin Authority 2016a). Conclusion We have always wanted a fair share of the water that was once ours. We relied on the natural flooding of the floodplains for grazing and watering our livestock and for our domestic needs (Fig. 15.2). The consequences of upstream irrigation development will continue to have major economic and environmental impacts. My husband and I lived on the Culgoa River for 27 years and watched with great sadness the continuing devastation of the river environment. It remains a disgrace that irrigation on our river could take so much water to the detriment of people and the environment downstream. It may be legal, but it remains morally wrong. We fought a losing battle against the wealthy and politically connected. We hold the Queensland Government responsible for the socio-economic and environmental mess. They simply allowed development to occur, oblivious to the downstream impacts, already obvious in many parts of the Murray–Darling Basin. The effects of this development were disastrous, economically, environmentally and emotionally. References CSIRO (2008) ‘Water availability in the Condamine-Balonne. A report to the Australian Government from the CSIRO Murray-Darling Basin Sustainable Yields Project’. CSIRO, Canberra. Cullen P, Marchant R, Mein R (2003) ‘Review of science underpinning the assessment of the ecological condition of the Lower Balonne system. Report to the Queensland Government’. The State of Queensland, Brisbane. Kingsford RT, Brandis K, Thomas RF, Knowles E, Crighton P, Gale E (2004) Classifying landform at broad landscape scales: the distribution and conservation of wetlands in New South Wales, Australia. Marine and Freshwater Research 55, 17–31.
Downloaded from CSIRO with access from at 220.127.116.11 on Sep 27, 2021, 4:07 PM. (c) CSIRO Publishing