THE standing committee on environment and energy has been told of the damage being done to the Barmah Choke through the pressure of meeting downstream demands.
Southern Riverina Irrigators chair Gabrielle Coupland said it was a wake-up call to government that ‘‘they cannot continue to treat our river like a pipe to the end of the system’’.
‘‘The Barmah Choke as a constraint is real; it is natural and if it continues to degrade the risk to our local environment has major implications for downstream river operations as well,’’ she said.
The Standing Committee is conducting an inquiry into the management of environmental water and were told of the potential environmental and ecological damage that can occur while trying to address issues downstream.
SRI presented to a public hearing of the Committee in Albury on Monday, alongside representatives from the Murray-Darling Wetlands Working Group, The Murray-Darling Association and the Wentworth Group.
‘‘The Wetlands Working Group raised the example of the Barmah Choke which we had raised in our written submission,’’ Mrs Coupland said.
‘‘It is widely known that the capacity of the Choke has decreased, and the view is that this is due to the pressure put on the banks from running the river high throughout the year to meet downstream demand.
‘‘It is a very real example of the damage that can be done through good intentions and poor implementation.
‘‘This is why measures that focus on alternatives to high flows, such as projects proposed in the Sustainable Diversion Limit Adjustment Mechanism, are so important. We need government to understand volume alone is not the answer.’’