NSW Natural Resources Commission says plan for the Barwon-Darling needs urgent overhaul to save ecosystem ‘in crisis’
The Murray-Darling river system managed by NSW – the Barwon-Darling – is “an ecosystem in crisis” which is on a path to collapse and urgent reforms are needed to save it, a review has warned.
The NSW Natural Resources Commission was asked to bring forward a statutory review of the Barwon-Darling by the previous minister Niall Blair, after ABC’s Four Corners aired allegations in 2017 of widespread water theft and another independent report raised serious doubts about the river’s management.
Now the commission, a government body charged with managing the state’s resources, has warned the key plan for the Barwon-Darling is to blame and needs an urgent overhaul.
The Barwon-Darling water sharing plan covers the stretch of the river system running from the NSW-Queensland border through the main cotton growing areas around Walgett, Brewarrina and Bourke, and includes the stretch of the Darling down to Wilcannia. Menindee is further downstream in the Lower Darling, but is highly dependent on what happens upstream.
The Barwon-Darling plan has long been the target of environmental groups’ concerns because a lack of metering, and because it allowed irrigators to extract water during low-flow events at the expense of the environment.