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Rehabilitation of Murray-Darling threatened by NSW cotton farmers

The title previously was: Mother Nature: dig out your begging-bowl - dem cotton farmers is coming yo' way

Not content with being a major contributor to the desiccation of creeks and rivers in the Murray-Darling and to the increased salinity of the system, in the midst of the nation’s worst water crisis the cotton industry is intending to increase its use of groundwater, as this is more cost-effective than purchasing impounded surface water at current prices.

NSW Cotton growers too thirsty

Fair Water Use has been informed that twelve Southern NSW cotton growers will tap the already compromised ground-water reserves of the Basin to irrigate 2500 hectares of cotton this season. At an average irrigation rate of 6.3 megalitres per hectare (Australian Bureau of Statistics 2005-06), this equates to an additional 15,750 megalitres extracted from stressed local aquifers and, to all intents and purposes, exported.

CSIRO identifies groundwater drawdown as major threat

In a recent publication “The shared water resources of the Murray-Darling Basin”, the CSIRO identified one of the most serious threats to the future of the Basin as the rapid increase in groundwater extraction. CSIRO scientist, Dr Tom Hatton, has also pointed out the stupidity of “robbing Peter to pay Paul”, as groundwater extractions exacerbate the widespread impacts of the endemic overuse of surface water.

Market forces making matters worse, not better

Fair Water Use, and an increasing percentage of Australians, believes that it is totally unacceptable to leave the waters of the Murray-Darling Basin at the mercy of the market. To continue to do so will deliver control of the availability and price of water into the hands of those who are most able to pay. Mother Nature will doubtless be left squatting on the banks of the dried-out Darling, proffering her begging-bowl: and the line of Australians queuing beside her will grow ever-longer.

The Murray-Darling is crying out for complete overhaul, commencing with the declaration of a State of Emergency, as per our submission to the current Senate enquiry.

Source: 'Fair Water Use – striving for a revived Murray-Darling basin by supporting environmentally sustainable water-use'

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Cotton and rice are water-consuming crops, unsuitable for our dry continent. However, the real water guzzlers are actually dairy and beef cattle and their crops. Japan has brought out a majority of our dairy companies, and the majority of it is going overseas for profits. More red meat is exported than consumed. The Murray Darling has been used for providing economic benefits for Australia despite it being one of the driest continents on Earth. We should shift from agricultural exports and focus on climate-change technologies.