NATIONAL PARKS ASSOCIATION OF NSW INC. (NPANSW)
PO Box A96, Sydney South NSW 1235 Ph: (02) 9233 4660 Fax: (02) 9233 4880

MEDIA RELEASE
Sunday 17 August 1997

WATER REFORM OVERDUE

The National Parks Association calls on the Government to introduce long overdue reform measures to protect our river systems without further delay.

"The appalling decline of the health in most of the river systems of our State has repeatedly been highlighted in the media and documented by scientific studies" said Anne Reeves, NPA Water Spokesperson today.

"The most recent reports, arising from extensive surveys by Department of Fisheries Scientists, documenting the scarcity of species that were once so common that there was a flourishing fishing industry, confirm what many already suspected - our native fish are in crisis" she continued.

Successive governments in the past have allowed, indeed encouraged, water dependant development. In some stretches of the Murray Darling Basin more entitlements to take out water have been granted than can be supplied in all but the most exceptional years. In addition, dams, weirs, levee banks and other costly infrastructure have been provided, mostly at government expense, all of which interfere with natural flow patterns. Extensive clearing for agriculture and irrigation are affecting the water cycle and leading to increasing salinity.

"It is no wonder the health of our river systems and their dependant wildlife is acutely threatened" Ms Reeves continued. "Significant reforms are long overdue. Improved efficiency for starters, would enable at least some water to be restored to the rivers. Link this with a more natural flow regime, reduced pollution and improved catchment management and there is some hope for our rivers to sustain us into the long term future. "

"Healthy environments make good economic sense" she concluded.

The National Parks Association has long argued for the need to ensure clean water and a pattern of flows in tune with the natural but variable characteristics of our river systems. NPA considers this essential for river health which in turn is necessary for the long term sustainability of us all.

for further information:
Anne Reeves, 02 9233 4660 (office) 02 9660 5694 (ah)
Cath Webb, 02 9568 2920 (after 1.00 pm Sunday)
Noel Plumb, 018 975 075

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