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‘No lakes, no deal’

Friday, 23rd March, 2012

By Paula Doran

Stakeholders in the Far West have identified maintaining the Menindee Lakes as their top priority for the management of the Murray-Darling Basin.

Representatives of Broken Hill City Council, Essential Water and the Aboriginal community met in the city this week and nominated the retention of the lakes system as an essential part of the Draft Plan on water reform.

The consultation was part of a two-day gathering in Broken Hill and Menindee to establish a submission from this region to send on to the Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA).

Linda Nadge, from Regional Development Australia, said there was a common theme amongst participants to keep the Menindee Lakes in their current form.

“Security of the water supply to our towns and the retention of the water licence held by Essential Energy was also a big priority,” said Ms Nadge who convened the meetings.

She said there was consensus amongst the Broken Hill group that any change in infrastructure or management of the area’s water assets would have an impact elsewhere.  

“People are very conscious of the assets we have. They want good quality drinking water and they want to look after both the Darling and the Menindee Lakes system.

“And there was a really interesting discussion on who actually owns our water assets.

“Participants were also keen to point out the impact that water in the region has on tourism - the social and recreational value of it. They feel it brings people to the region and the region to life,” she said.

Ms Nadge said she was happy with the group in attendance and that they could really tap in to the collective knowledge on water and water assets in the region.

“There was a concern amongst the group that we are only a small voice from a part of the Basin that really needs strong representation,” she said.

Ms Nadge encouraged the general public to give voice to their concerns on water reform while they could still contribute to the submission.

With just four weeks of the allotted time for community consultation left in the MDBA’s Draft Plan roll out, it’s looking increasingly doubtful that Broken Hill will be included in a direct community meeting with the Authority, despite assurances by a representative that such a meeting would take place.

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