Involve locals in Murray management: farmer

Involve locals in Murray management: farmer

Water
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Murray Valley landholders have called on the Murray Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) to involve locals more, when planning river flows.

Murray Valley landholders have called on the Murray Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) to involve locals more in planning for river flows and flood mitigation.

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FLOOD PREPARATION: Preparation for floods included moving stock to higher ground.

FLOOD PREPARATION: Preparation for floods included moving stock to higher ground.

FLOOD LEVELS: Murray River farmer Rob Locke has raised concerns that flooding is becoming more frequent, and authorities need to take account of local advice.

FLOOD LEVELS: Murray River farmer Rob Locke has raised concerns that flooding is becoming more frequent, and authorities need to take account of local advice.

Farmer Rob Locke manages properties along the Lower River road, just west of Tocumwal, in southern NSW. 

He said the volumes of water proposed to be pushed down the Murray River were unachievable.

 “We are trying to work with government and its agencies to explain to them that the situation we are seeing now is very likely to occur more often, under the flow targets of the basin plan,” Mr Locke said.

“The first wave of flooding was roughly equivalent to the flows modelled by the Murray-Darling Basin Authority in the development of the Basin Plan.”

He said landholders wanted acknowledgement of local knowledge from the  MDBA and other government officials “who rely on computer models – many of which are proven to be flawed.

 “This is a complex part of the system and to understand it government and bureaucracy need to work with locals who understand water better than anyone.

“When Mother Nature brings flood events there is nothing we can do, but when human management of the system leads to damaging flood events it is unacceptable,” Mr Locke said.

“An environmental flow during dry seasons makes perfect sense, but the plan is to send more environmental water through the system during wet seasons, which is a major flood waiting to happen.

 “It is a shame that government does not involve locals who understand water management and the river systems in their decision making.

“Localism could save everyone a lot of stress and money.”

The Bullatale and Native Dog creeks run through Mr Locke’s properties, which he farms with his father in law Alan Scott, with both waterways branching off the Murray to make their way across to the Edward River.

He said a fortnight ago the Murray River at Tocumwal reached a peak of 6.58m and on Sunday the latest influx of water brought a new peak of 7.35m.

“When you live on the floodplain, flood events come with the territory,” Mr Locke said.

“Preparations include moving stock to higher ground, moving equipment out of sheds which could be in the path of the floodwaters, levees and laying down sandbags, among many other things.

“We have done it many times before and accept that it’s a part of the life we live.”

But he said there was a different feel to this flood, which had a man-made element.

He said he also feared human interference would make floods occur more often.

“Knowing that we could see this type of flood more often and for longer periods has made this preparation harder and more stressful than any other floods we have experienced,” Mr Locke said.

“When the river is full and the surrounding landscape is water logged it doesn’t take much for all the rivers that run into the Murray to fill.

“We then go from minor flooding to major flooding in the blink of an eye.”

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