Managing our Water Resources for a Sustainable Future
New South Wales faces the prospect of the decline of our river dependant ecosystems and a water availability crisis in regional and rural areas if inappropriate and inefficient water use continues to places unsustainable demands on our rivers, groundwater and other inland water systems. Outdated and unsustainable water management practices have already prolonged the severity of the recent drought and caused enormous stress to the health of the rivers and the viability of agriculture and rural communities.
The current arrangements for water allocations in this state have failed to ensure the health of the rivers and secure water supplies to smaller farms, towns and communities.
If greenhouse gas emissions are not curtailed and climate change is allowed to occur then the Australian climate is likely to become drier with more intense and frequent extreme weather conditions, especially droughts. This means that in the future there will be increasing demans placed on a reduced on agricultural and rural water supply.
The health of our rivers and the diverse ecosystems which they support is essential to the economic, social and ecological sustainability of New South Wales. This is because these ecosystems provide critical functions in our landscape such as water purification and the protection of our soil resources, as well as being important sources of biodiversity.
The Greens NSW will work towards rural water management practices which are sustainable and account for the needs of communities and agriculture without compromising the health of rivers. This includes addressing issues such as dryland salinity, declining groundwater availability, pollution of water sources by mining and agricultural runoff and the gradual phasing out of large scaled production of water intensive crops such as cotton and rice.
The Greens NSW believe that full public ownership of water and community involvement in decision making are the only way to secure sustainable food production, protect our ecology and ensure the future of rural and regional Australia.
The Greens will work towards:
- Phasing out unsustainable water irrigation practices and encouraging efficient irrigation.
- Restricting mining operations in areas where water availability is low and preventing all mining operations which threaten the quality of our water supply
- Minimising irrigation dependency, and increased support for agriculture that is adapted to natural rainfall patterns.
- Creating a national framework for managing our water resources sustainably
- Ensuring river flows are consistent with the needs of the ecosystems which the rivers support;
- Preventing the construction of new dams on waterways that are not essential to community water needs and phasing out water transfers between catchments;
- Placing protection of water resources ahead of extraction rights;
- Ensuring Indigenous cultural needs are considered in all current and future water determinations;
- Implementing full resource cost recovery in water pricing; and
- Legislating protection for all NSW wetlands to ensure sufficient surface and ground water.