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Murray Darling Basin Authority meeting addresses flood management improvements

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July 31, 2017

Murray Darling Basin Authority meeting addresses flood management improvements

Independent Federal Member for Indi, Cathy McGowan has welcomed the outcomes of a meeting with Murray Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) officials in Wodonga today. The meeting was held to discuss progress on commitments made at the November 2016 roundtable that followed flooding of the Murray River, downstream of Lake Hume in October 2016.

The meeting brought together MDBA chairman Mr Neil Andrew; executive director of river management, Mr David Dreverman; and president of the Murray River Action Group, Mr Richard Sargood of Corowa, representing landholders. The federal Member for Farrer, the Hon Sussan Ley also attended.

Ms McGowan said after the 2016 flood, Murray River landholders had asked to address the Basin Officials Committee (BOC), seeking a review of the Hume Dam airspace management rules that control operations of the River Murray system. The rules aim to maximise the water available to irrigators at the same time as limiting the impact of flooding on landholders downstream of Lake Hume. Both she and the MP for Farrer were disappointed to learn the rules were to remain unchanged following a meeting of Murray-Darling Basin Ministerial Council in June confirmed the NSW, Victorian, Queensland and South Australia governments were satisfied with the operating rules and they would remain unchanged.

Ms McGowan said she and Ms Ley had undertaken to approach the Victorian and NSW representatives on the Basin Officials Committee to encourage them to receive representation from the Murray River landholders on possible changes to the airspace management rules. Ms McGowan and Ms Ley will also seek a meeting with the new chairman of the Basin Officials Committee, Mr Malcolm Thompson to discuss the issue.

“We want the committee to better understand the cost to the community of flooding such as that which occurred in October 2016,” Ms McGowan said. “A very small percentage change to the airspace management rules during flooding could bring forward water releases from Lake Hume and have a benefit for landholders downstream of Albury and Wodonga.”

Ms McGowan welcomed a commitment by the MDBA to modify its use of the Early Warning Network Service, to provide advice of changes in releases from Hume Dam. She also acknowledged the importance of relocating 4 MDBA staff to Wodonga. As the weir begins to fill, these staff will undertake a public campaign that will provide timely advice of all changes in releases from Hume Dam whenever flows in the Murray at Albury exceed normal channel capacity of 25,000 megalitres a day.