Australia to revive Murray-Darling basin

Published: Sunday 30 September 2007

The Australian government has given the green light to Australian $10-billion (about us $8-billion) plan to revive the Murray-Darling basin, which provides 40 per cent of the country's food. The step, taken to protect the basin that is facing a water shortage, was part of the Water Bill, 2007, passed by the parliament earlier in August 2007. The plan will modernise irrigation infrastructure, check over-use of water and save up to 30 per cent of the water currently being lost through leakage.

Earlier, the basin was managed by four states--New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and South Victoria. They had competing interests that resulted in deteriorating infrastructure and over allocation of water. In April, the federal government proposed to takeover its management passing a law to create a Murray-Darling Basin Authority in the parliament in August 2007. The body is to plan and manage the basin water and will report to the federal environment.The authority, the government says, will take decisions in the interest of the basin as a whole, not along state lines. "For over 100 years the water of the Murray-Darling basin has been managed inefficiently. The plan will breathe life back into the basin," said Malcolm Turnbull, Australian environment minister.

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