Water from the current Queensland floodwaters will be wasted as result of ongoing delays in promised infrastructure works to the Menindee Lakes, Coalition Murray Darling Basin spokesman Simon Birmingham said today.?
The second flood in the Darling catchment in three months will see run-off of 6,215 gigalitres of water, or more than six trillion litres, according to Bureau of Meteorology predictions.?
“Though much will be lost in transit, the Queensland floods will see welcome inflows for downstream irrigators, storages and the environment, but even more water would be available over the longer term if works to reduce evaporation waste had been undertaken as promised,” Senator Birmingham said.?
“Estimates in Labor’s own 2007 election policy document indicate that 200 billion litres could be saved every year from reduced evaporation and increased efficiencies through the $400 million reengineering of the Menindee Lakes storage.?
“This project was fully funded by the Howard Government in 2007 and in Labor’s election policy was at the very top of a list of Murray-Darling projects*, but the sad fact is that not one bit of engineering works has been undertaken on the Menindee Lakes.?
“Water Minister Penny Wong has today embarrassingly revealed in Question Time that no works have started to reduce water losses through seepage and evaporation, just ‘investigative studies’.?
“Senator Wong also refused to address the question of whether there will be further delays to any infrastructure works as a result of the lakes’ filling by NSW, to potentially hold 1,700 billion litres.??
“Sadly, Menindee Lakes is just one example of the Rudd Government’s failure to deliver on water saving infrastructure.?
“Virtually nothing has yet been spent on multi-billion dollar priority projects agreed to by the Federal, Victorian and New South Wales Governments in mid 2008.?
“If these promised infrastructure works had been progressed by the Rudd Government, Queensland’s floodwaters would be delivering significantly more water over a longer period of time for our irrigators, communities relying on the river and of course the river itself.”??
* See page 12 of Labor’s national plan to tackle the water crisis, available at http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/download/library/partypol/170P6/upload_binary/170p62.pdf;fileType%3Dapplication%2Fpdf