The WA Government has released a discussion paper that is considering whether to open the Fitzroy River up to irrigated agriculture. Allowing water to be taken from the river would put the Fitzroy at risk of a Murray-Darling style disaster
Government is considering allowing giant pumps to extract a massive 300 billion litres a year from the river – the equivalent of the entire amount of water all the people of Perth and the South-west use in a year, for free!
Stripping the Fitzroy of so much water will be a disaster. Graziers and Traditional Owners who've suffered immensely in the Murray-Darling are urging us to make sure the same mistakes are not made here.
Traditional Owners, scientists, environment groups, and recreational fishers are all supporting protection to keep the Martuwarra Fitzroy River wild and free flowing; and to avoid the unacceptable risks of taking surface water to the Fitzroy River’s National Heritage values. But broad support from the community is also needed - please send a quick submission today.
The paper does not outline a pathway for the protection and sustainable development of the Fitzroy River. Instead it raises many issues of serious concern:
- Large dams are proposed to capture surface flows from the river and floodplains via overland flow, pumps and channels.
- The impacts of pollution from agricultural development are not considered.
- The Fitzroy River is Western Australia’s longest listed Aboriginal Heritage site. This is not mentioned in the paper; nor is protection of this heritage considered.
- The extreme risk to critically endangered freshwater sawfish from water extraction and pollution from agriculture is not reflected in the discussion paper.
The WA Government has a clear choice — changing the Fitzroy forever by giving massive handouts of free water to a few wealthy irrigators, or protecting the river so endangered wildlife, sustainable industries, culture and communities can continue to flourish far into the future.