Desparate water measures discussed as Victoria dries up

Joint contingency plan released: A contingency plan, jointly released on 12 January by the federal, Victorian and South Australian governments, sought to urgently address water shortages for towns and cities in the parched region.

Hydro scheme to be reviewed: Blanket Stage 4 water restrictions for all towns supplied by the Murray and a review of the Snowy Hydro electricity scheme were also proposed in the plan, which was yet to be endorsed by NSW. The emergency plan could be put into place if the drought persists this year but the external watering restrictions could be introduced before June.

Wetlands, irrigators under threat: Australian Conservation Foundation healthy rivers campaigner Arlene Buchan said a weir could cause environmental devastation. "An additional weir would go part of the way to solving the water supply problem to Adelaide but at the risk of permanently destroying internationally recognised wetlands and devastating irrigation industries in the area," she said.

Water buy-back option: Buchan called on governments to buy back water from irrigators as the only way to save stressed rivers. Federal parliamentary secretary for water, Malcolm Turnbull, said the crisis plan was based on a worse-case scenario that 2007 would be as dry and hot as 2006.

The Age, 13/1/2007, p. 1

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