New Fitzroy Dams Threat

Posted on March 7, 2019

This summer we have seen the devastating impacts of taking water from the Darling River. Millions of fish have died while cotton crops are kept green.

This is the fate we need to avoid for the mighty Fitzroy River. However, a Government Department recently released a paper outlining options for dams and irrigation that looks remarkably similar to those that led to the recent mass fish kills in the Darling River. This includes gully dams and pumping from the river into storage dams and ring tanks.

At the election, the McGowan Government promised not to allow the Fitzroy River to be dammed, to protect the health of the Fitzroy River, and only allow sustainable development. They did not commit to take water to support big business plans for mass irrigation.

The discussion paper included four main flaws that replicate the failures of the Murray Darling:

  • An assumption that the life-giving floods that rejuvenate the river can be captured in dams without impact on the river and wetlands downstream;
  • A narrow definition of the ‘no dams’ commitment where dams next to the river, and filled with river water, would not be considered a dam;
  • A plan to rely on the same complex and unenforceable regulations that have failed to protect the Darling river. These same regulations have allowed Governments and industry to claim the mass fish deaths on the Darling River are because of drought, not water extraction.
  • A drive for irrigated agriculture to underpin development instead of the many sustainable industries that are available, and despite the ample evidence of economic and environmental failure.

Please add your voice to ask the Government to reject the Murray-Darling approach and instead adopt a ‘no dams’ policy that would pass the pub test. To protect the health of the river, no water should be taken from the river or its National Heritage listed floodplains.

The Fitzroy River is even more sensitive to taking flood waters than the Darling River. Floods are unpredictable and short-lived. This is the only time many wetlands are recharged by the river. Taking flood waters could leave these wetlands dry and lifeless.

The Fitzroy is one of our last great intact river systems. It is National Heritage Listed for its outstanding cultural values, and is the world’s last stronghold for critically endangered sawfish. It deserves protection, and not the fate of the once mighty Darling River.

Help ensure the Fitzroy gets real protection – not dams, irrigation and a set of complex regulations that will lead to a Murray-Darling disaster – Please send a message urging the Government to protect the Fitzroy River.

Menindee Weir on the Darling River contrasts with the pristine beauty of Danggu Geikie Gorge

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