Source: Alex Schrader www.abc.net.au
The Australian Federal Water Minister, Penny Wong, has announced that due to the extended drought, the Murray River's lower lakes appear to now be beyond salvation. Lying near the mouth of the Murray in SA, the lakes have been listed as internationally protected wetlands under the Ramsar Convention. They host a large number of plants, animals and migratory birds.
Back in July I wrote that:
Australia’s worst drought in 100 years, which has already cost the nation $20 billion dollars since 2002, is likely to become even more severe and cause permanent ecological changes in the country’s breadbasket, the Murray-Darling river basin, government officials said.
Alexandrina Council which manages the environment at the Murray mouth and lower lakes region says emergency water flows are needed or the river system will soon be beyond repair. Neil Schillabeer, from the Lower Lakes and Coorong Infrastructure Committee, says:
"There is a need for probably 200-250 gigalitres of water in the very immediate future to solve the problems we've got there right now. That doesn't seem to have eventuated. Our state Premier hasn't been able to negotiate those sort of volumes of water for the lakes."Signalling that the Federal Government has given up on saving the drought-stricken lakes, Senator Wong said yesterday that a final decision on whether to flood the lakes with seawater would be made within the next few months.
"Unfortunately, there's just not enough water to do everything we want, so the priority has to be critical human needs," Senator Wong told ABC radio.The South Australia Government's adviser on drought, Dean Brown, said the fate of the lakes depended on rainfall over the next two months.
"There's a 50% chance that there might be enough flow in the river and enough flow into the lakes to maintain the level where it is," Mr Brown said.