Chair of the Riverina and Murray Regional Organisation of Councils (RAMROC) Cr Kevin Mack of Albury has encouraged Federal and State Agencies to adopt triple bottom line balanced objectives when considering restrictions on boating activities on the Murray River.
“The Draft River Erosion Management Plan developed by the NSW Roads and Maritime Services and the Murray Darling Basin Authority for the 49 kilometre section of the Murray River between Corowa and the junction of the Ovens River demonstrates the need for strong community engagement and for achieving the best possible balance between the river environment and the economic and social needs of business, tourism and sustainability of river communities generally,” Cr Mack said.
“Riverbank erosion in the Murray system is a major issue that needs to be managed by appropriate infrastructure works and ongoing monitoring.
“Bank erosion is generally the result of flooding events and loss of vegetation that occur naturally from time to time, or through the controlled management of the river system where the river height is constantly changing up and down to accommodate environmental flows and the production demands of agriculture and urban development.
“There are concerns expressed in the draft management plan that high wash wake boating activities are contributing to bank erosion, particularly the use of wake enhancing devices.
“However we need to be assured that this is definitely the case and that it is not simply an over -reaction by Government Agencies, because recreational boating is a critically important activity for both local residents and tourists and is a key driver of the economic and social framework of our Murray region.
“Whilst the report only proposes a trial limitation for the Corowa to Ovens River junction stretch, RAMROC communities are concerned that this could be the start of such limitations across the Murray region and indeed the state.
“We know that the Murray Darling Basin Plan and the removal of water entitlements from food production for environmental watering has already impacted adversely on a number of irrigation based towns and small communities across the RAMROC region.
“Further impacts will make their positions untenable,” Cr Mack said.
“As such there is also a need for more research, testing and monitoring as well as exploring all available options, for example dedicated off-river areas for wave boating activities.
“There is no doubt that this is a very important issue that could ultimately impact on communities right along the Murray River so comprehensive engagement with councils, tourism and business operators and communities generally is fundamental to achieving the best possible balanced outcomes.