What is happening that is hurting Wee Waa?

Wee Waa is hurting right now, our town is 90% dependent on Agriculture all of which relies on Water . The Murray Darling Basin plan proposed to remove 23 000 megalitres of Water which will come from farms in and around Wee Waa.   This will mean an estimated 70 Full time job and $38 million dollars will be removed annually from the regional economy. This decision whether to take water from Wee Waa is being made by the Murray Darling Basin Authority as part of the Northern Review of the Basin Plan.   


Why is this happening?

The MDBA admitted they did not have enough northern data in 2010 (much of the data was from studies in the southern basin, which does not fit our northern rain fed system), this has led to a review of the environmental requirements in the Barwon Darling and Condamine Balonne which are two key parts of the Northern Basin. This is separate to the requirements in the Southern basin which deliver water to South Australia, this water is specifically for the environment instream in the North.  The MDBA will make a decision in September based on the updated information on environmental, social and economic factors - they decide the fate of Wee Waa.


What should happen – and will save Wee Waa?

It is acknowledged by the MDBA and ALL Stakeholders in the Northern Basin that the environmental needs can be better met by : installing fishways in the weirs, removing carp, re-snagging the river, planting more trees along the river/fencing off stock access and fixing cold water pollution.  These actions achieve SIGNIFICANTLY greater environmental outcomes than just adding water. 


Currently the environment receives over 80% of the total flow out of the Namoi system flowing through Wee Waa, the rest is used by Towns and farmers for stock and domestic supply and less than 19% is used by agriculture which supports towns like Wee Waa to survive.  The water we use for agriculture keeps people in school, keeps people in jobs and keeps businesses running.  Removing this water will put our town into permanent drought and will harm our community.


Help us get the State and Federal government to use common sense in redirecting funds that remove productive water from our communities into infrastructure and on ground solutions that deliver the outcomes needed.


In 10 years time we don’t want government to come back and say more water is needed – you could add all the water in the basin and it wouldn’t be enough. 


Long term environmental improvement comes from a holistic approach not just adding water.


Please help us by making this an issue that is prioritised to get government to make the right decision for the right reason.


#morethanflow #savingweewaa

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Attached is a copy of the presentation given at the Wee Waa meeting on the Northern Basin Review. The MDBA have summarised the key concerns and suggestions (plus responses) that were raised at the meeting

In summary, the MDBA heard:
· Concerns about impact of previous water reform still impacting communities, particularly groundwater reforms. The MDBA acknowledges the impact that previous water reform and the current recovery of water has had on communities. The Review’s results show us which towns have been most affected. Through extensive research we have an unprecedented amount of information on economic trends, together with your community’s take on what’s been happening in your town. In addition to the Commonwealth funding of $13 billion which has already been granted to assist communities to adjust to water reductions, we recommend as part of this amendment package that further targeted structural adjustment funding be provided to communities.
· Comments about the extent to which the environmental indicators are already being met in the Namoi under current recovery and similarly, concern that new science and on ground work has not been done on environmental indicators in the Namoi specifically.
· Similarly, MDBA heard the community questioning why an environmental study in each valley wasn’t undertaken as specifically as the socio-economic work. A motion was put to the meeting and carried that addressed this concern: That the MDBA in liaison with Minister Joyce undertake work in the Namoi to review the in stream requirements and present the results at a meeting in Wee Waa by winter 2017.
· Questions and comments about the benefit of carp eradication. The message conveyed that flows alone won’t work and that carp is a bigger influence on river health. MDBA agree that non-flow measures are key to achieving environmental outcomes and this is why the toolkit measures are so crucial to our proposed amendment. There was a suggestion that eradication of carp could be a Sustainable Diversion Limit offset. This has been considered by Basin Ministers who have directed Basin officials to consider opportunities for a wider range of complementary projects, such as carp control, to provide triple bottom line benefits under the Basin Plan. Through this process funding has been set aside to look into carp control.

There is general interest in the monitoring effort we are undertaking. The following link brings together the MDBA’s data on bugs, waterbirds, freshwater algae and can be searched by specific sites http://mdba.ala.org.au/

As you’re aware, the Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce has established a task force at the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources to look into how achieve the remaining water recovery in the Northern Basin in ways that minimise the impact on communities. The taskforce plans to be out and about over the coming weeks and months. If you’d like to contact them you can by emailing on northernbasin@agriculture.gov.au

Finally all community members are strongly encouraged to make a submission and have a say on the proposed Basin Plan amendments. You can lodge a submission through our website, by email or you can post a hard copy to:

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