In a move that won’t please environmentalists, irrigators have taken water that belongs to the river and are planning to use it for cotton growing, undermining the $13 billion Murray-Darling Basin plan. The pumping of the water that is meant for the environment has been voided by these irrigators, which might be due to the unique rules set in place by the Murray-Darling Basin plan.
According to ABC, taxpayers have inadvertently supported already wealthy agricultural interests. This included Webster Limited, a publicly-traded company which holds a $300 million water portfolio — the largest Australian-owned private holding in the country. This lead to an investigation, which revealed that the Barwon-Darling system have given irrigators seemingly easy access to the water meant for the rivers back in 2012, angering many people that pay for the plan.
“It rendered the whole plan, in my mind, completely null and void because the amount of water that could be taken out was huge,” said Long-time farmers’ advocate Mal Peters. University of New South Wales scientist Richard Kingsford said the revelation “goes against the whole tenet of the [Basin] Plan.” “Environmental water bought by taxpayers is going through pumps into storages to grow cotton, and to me that is the biggest problem that we’ve currently got,” he said.
Plenty of people have complained about the Murray-Darling Basin plan, which has ended hurting the rivers the plan was supposed to support. Joe Robinson, one of the Webster directors, acknowledged the problems but stated that his company was not to blame.
“I agree that if there’s a flow that triggers my pumping and that means it does not get to your town, I agree there’s a major problem,” he said. “But why do I have to carry the can for it?” Expect plenty of companies to issue a similar response, which could end up angering plenty of citizens.