Banners and placards stopped traffic on Macquarie Street on Saturday as more than 60 people marched in protest of proposed changes to the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.
The Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA)’s Northern Basin review proposed a 70 gigalitre reduction in the water recovery target, after it found the full 390gL target was hurting rural communities such as Warren and Trangie.
The adjustment was contingent on state governments implementing and enforcing a range of efficiency projects.
Environmentalists fear the consequences of removing 70gL from the northern basin, particularly for the Macquarie Marshes and Menindee Lakes.
People travelled from Mildura, Mudgee, Orange and Tottenham for the rally.
“Saturday’s march in Dubbo shows our politicians that communities in the Murray-Darling basin will come together and fight hard to protect our precious rivers,” Healthy Rivers ambassador Mel Gray said.
We could not live here without healthy, resilient rivers.Mel Gray
“We could not live here without healthy, resilient rivers.
“Communities in the Murray-Darling basin are outraged at the perilous health of our rivers, marshes and lakes, and the impacts for all of the life that relies on them.”
Starting at West Dubbo Lions Park, the rally heard a Welcome to Country from Aunty Narrell Boys, before she and her sister Aunty Coral Peckham shared memories of the beloved river they grew up with.
River ecologist Bill Johnson painted a picture of the state of the Darling River, sharing his dismay about the deterioration of the Darling River south of Bourke. Bev Smiles, of the Inland Rivers Network, updated the crowd on the latest politics around the issue, inspiring attendees to call Tony Burke (former Labor Water Minister) and David Littleproud (Minister for Water Resources).
The crowd then marched across the LH Ford Bridge and up Macquarie Street with banners, placards and chants showing their concern.
Ms Gray said 80 per cent of naturally-bred Golden Perch in the Murray-Darling Basin begin life in the Menindee Lakes.
“A strong urge to migrate upstream through our connected river system is the only reason we have naturally recruited Yellowbelly in our Macquarie River,” she said.
“We must keep the Macquarie Marshes healthy to make connection to the Barwon-Darling easier, and we must keep Menindee Lakes alive to allow spawning.”