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MURRAY DARLING BASIN INTRODUCTION TO ISSUES. MURRAY DARLING BASIN. The Murray Darling Basin is the area of land that makes up the catchment of the River Murray, the Darling River, and all the small rivers and creeks that flow into them. - PowerPoint PPT Presentation



  • MURRAY DARLING BASINThe Murray Darling Basin is the area of land that makes up the catchment of the River Murray, the Darling River, and all the small rivers and creeks that flow into them. The Basin is Australias most important agricultural region, producing one third of Australias food supply, and is home to about two million people.The Basin provides drinking water for over three million people, and more than one third of these people live outside the area. The Basin is so important for Australia that if the region is allowed to continue to deteriorate it will affect every Australian, whether they live in the country or the city.


    Area1,061,469 Km2Population2 millionPopulation density2 people/ Km2Water supply of3 million peopleAustralias total area14% or 1/7th Australian irrigated crops 75%Australian commercially grown crops41%Key economic activityAgriculture, grazing, tourismThreatsInvasive species, river regulation & fragmentation, salinisation, climate changeLengthTOTAL 3,370 KmDarling River (2740km long)River Murray (2530km long) Murrumbidgee River (1690km long).


    Water is the lifeblood of all living things and its also the lifeblood of the Basin. People who live and work in the Basin rely on its water to drink, to wash with, and to use in their factories. Plants and animals in the Basin also rely on the water as part of a healthyecosystem in which they live, feed andbreed. Over the years the quality of the Basins water has been degraded. As a result, its rivers may not be able tocontinue supplying the water that thepeople, plants and animals need to survive.



  • MDB- CHALLENGE?The water in the Basins rivers are becoming spoiled, wetlands are drying up, native fish are struggling to survive and many areas of land are becoming too salty for plants to grow. Some of the major challenges facing the Murray-Darling Basin are:

    To improve the quality of the water.To keep the river systems healthy.To manage the land in a way that provides jobs for the community, while at the same time taking care of the environment.

  • SALTWith salinity levels rising in the rivers, as well as on land, salt is one of the biggest challenges for the Basin. Salts that naturally occur deep in the soil are being dissolved by risinggroundwater and then carried into the rivers, or brought to the soil surface. Most native plants and crops cannot grow if the soil gets too salty. If salt levels in the rivers become too high, plants and fish that live in the water can die. Salt can also kill crops if farmers irrigate using salty water from the rivers. The problem is that huge amounts of native vegetation have been removed from the Basin over the past hundred years or so, without being replaced. Shallow-rooted plants, such as many food crops, do not use as much rainwater as trees and native vegetation. The extra rainwater then soaks into the ground, causing the watertable to rise. When more trees are planted they use the excess water, the watertable falls and the land may be able to recover.

  • Animals under threat.Around 30,000 wetlands can be found in the Basin, some of which are Important breeding grounds for birds from as far away as Japan and China! Thirty-five different native fish species live in the Basins rivers. The Basin has at least 35 endangered species of birds and 16 species of endangered mammals. Unfortunately, 20 species of mammals have already becomeextinct.

    Algal BloomsWhen nutrients from fertilisers and drainage flow into the river, it encourages the naturally-occurring algae to grow faster than usual. Combined with the effects of slow-moving water from reduced river flows, algal blooms form. This can be a bigproblem because some types of blue-green algae are poisonous to humans, animals and fish. The challenge for Basin managers is to try to stop these blooms from occurring.

  • SustainabilityAt the moment, there is not enough water in the Basin to supply everyones needs and wants. The major Water Sharing Challenge is to come up with a fair system in which everyone working and living in the Basin has most of the water they need, while at the same time, ensuring that the ecosystem has enough fresh clean water to thrive. The health of the river and its tributaries will not besustained if the community keeps taking Large amounts of water out of the river system to irrigate crops. There is now a limit placed on how much water can be removed from the rivers, and members of the community are learning to balancetheir water needs with those of a healthy and productive environment.

  • The People Challenge

    Who are the people of the Murray-Darling Basin?People who live in rural towns and citiesFarmersIndigenous peopleMembers of Landcare groupsPeople who own and work in businesses and industriesSOCIAL

  • SOCIALEveryone lives in a catchment area, and aHealthy catchment is an essential part of a healthy river. Managing the challenges in the Basin is not just about managing rivers. It is also about managing the lands that make up the catchments of thoserivers to ensure that the system is inbalance. No matter where you live inAustralia, the rain that falls on you will eventually drain into a river, afterplants have used the water they need and The ground has soaked up as much as it can. Problems such as salinity and erosion on the land will cause salt and soil to be washed down through the catchment and into the rivers, degrading river health.So, another very important challenge for The people of the Basin is to work towards healthy ecosystems on the land, as well as in and near the rivers.

  • ENVIRONMENTALWhen the natural flows of the river were changed, plants, fish and animals that hadbeen happily living there began to suffer.Thirty-five native fish species live within theMurray-Darling Basin river system, but native fish populations are only 10% of what hey were before European settlement in Australia. Changes in the flow of the river, construction of dams and weirs, a decline in water quality, disappearing habitats,overfishing, and the introduction of exotic fish such as carp, as well as of various made it extremely difficult for many of the Native species to survive however, there is a major project under way to send more water flowing through the Basins riversso that the environment benefits. This should help birds and fish to breed again and may give native vegetation the opportunity to regenerate.

  • ECONOMICFifty years ago, people were only concerned about how to store water from the Basins rivers, and how to control their flow. The technologies they developed have made possible Australias multibillion dollar irrigation industry, which produces one third ofAustralias food.

  • The longterm survival of the Basin will depend on our ability to use its natural resources in a sustainable way.To achieve sustainability, some people may needto learn more about the needs of a healthy workingriver, and then change the way they use theresources of the Basin. This will ensure that people are able to earn a living from using the resources of the Basin, while at the same time protecting the habitat of the native birds, animals and fish that also live in the Basin.

    The Murray-Darling Basin Commission is coordinatingcommunity groups. The people who live in the Basin have different needs and values. They will need to value what the Basin brings into their lives so that sustainability into the future becomes a shared goal for everyone.

  • ICM- INTEGRATED CATCHMENT MANAGEMENTGovernments and communities throughout the Basin are working together, with the common goal of maintaining this precious environment while, at the same time continuing to grow and develop Basin communities. The sustainable use of the Basin is being managed by the Commonwealth Government, five state and territory governments, and more than 200 local governments. They are working together with people from cities and rural communities, farmers, Indigenous people, Landcare groups and many other community organisations who care about the Basin.

  • To implement this targets-based approach to catchment health, the capacity of government agencies, catchment management organisations, local government, and the broader community will be strengthened, particularly at catchment scale. Capacity includes legal, institutional, planning, management, financial, technical and information skills and capacities, and leadership skills