Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Murray-Darling water forecast figures

The report says that by 2030 there could be 41 per cent less water available in the Murray-Darling.

Water availability in the Murray-Darling could drop by almost half by 2030, according to a new report released by the Prime Minister.

Kevin Rudd announced the findings of the CSIRO report at the Hume Dam near Albury Wodonga with Climate Change Minister Penny Wong.

The report says that by 2030 there could be 41 per cent less water available in the Murray-Darling and flows to the Lower Lakes near the mouth of the system could drop by almost 70 per cent.

Mr Rudd says inflows into the Murray are now only one sixth of the long-term average.

"We've been tracking worse than the CSIRO's mid point scenario out to 2030," he said.

"Taking in climate change factors what does that mean? The medium point of their projections is in fact better than it is today. In other words we have a real problem on our hands," he said.

Mr Rudd says reducing the pollution that causes climate change can help prevent the water situation from getting worse.

"We can't promise it's going to rain, but what you can do is have a credible long-term strategy on climate change hence the carbon pollution reduction scheme, a credible medium-term strategy when it comes to buying back entitlements and a credible immediate-term strategy which is about upping the efficiency in the way in which we use this precious resource," he said.

The Hume Dam is part of the Murray-Darling system and is now sitting at 17 per cent capacity.

The release of the CSIRO's figures comes ahead of the Government's launch on Wednesday of its green paper on climate change and an emissions trading scheme.

Senator Wong says the report shows that Australia must implement an emissions trading scheme.

"This shows us yet again how climate change is a present problem as well as a problem for future generations and that is why we now must act," she said.

The Murray-Darling Basin Commission's latest update on the basin, released last Thursday, showed June inflows were at a record low.

The state and territory governments signed an agreement with the Federal Government at the last COAG meeting on July 3 to form a new authority which would oversee a strategy for the maintenance of the basin.


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