New funding package announced for The Forgotten River — our ‘Bidgee no longer forgotten?

By Dr. Siwan Lovett and Chris Walsh

 

Banner image (left to right): Richie Allan, Bradley Bell, Dr. Siwan Lovett, Sen. David Pocock, Andy Lowes.

New hope of restoring the health of the Upper Murrumbidgee has arrived under the terms of an agreement reached between the Albanese Government and ACT Independent Senator David Pocock. Over the past year, the Australian River Restoration Centre’s Dr. Siwan Lovett and Andy Lowes have been working with politicians, local community groups, First Nations and government to raise awareness about the poor health of the Upper Murrumbidgee. This effort has now been rewarded, with Senator Pocock’s agreement ensuring the following:

 
  • a review of the Snowy Water Inquiry Outcomes Implementation Deed
  • a rewrite the Statement of Expectations, which governs Snowy Hydro operations
  • $20m for catchment health initiatives
  • $30m to purchase water in times of drought
  • $500,000 for First Nations to genuinely have their say in the ongoing management of the river

The Upper Murrumbidgee still needs more water, but we are hopeful that this agreement sets in motion the ability for these flows to be provided in future years.

Dr. Siwan Lovett (left) and Andy Lowes (right) speak about The Forgotten River at Parliament House.
Dr. Siwan Lovett (left) and Andy Lowes (right) speak about The Forgotten River at Parliament House.

This agreement represents significant and meaningful change for the health of the Upper ‘Bidgee, and the culmination of over two years of work here at the ARRC through our Forgotten River campaign. Whilst this is a big win in securing the health and future of our beloved river, there is still a long road ahead in restoring the river to a state in which it, and all of its inhabitants, can thrive.

A split-screen image of the Upper Murrumbidgee river — on the left, it is healthy and full of water. On the right, it is empty and barren.
Both photos are of the Upper Murrumbidgee River, upstream of Tharwa Bridge. The photo on the left shows the river with flowing waters, while the photo on the right shows the river unrecognisable and dried to algae-choked pools in December 2019.

Have your say on the Snowy Hydro Statement of Expectations

We, the Australian Taxpayer, own Snowy Hydro — so it is important that we have our say about how this organisation should be managed, what information it should share, and how it should ensure that energy production does not come at the cost of environmental and social values. To date, over 850 people who care about the Upper ‘Bidgee have had their say through our Community Survey — join them so that your voice can be heard in the newly announced upcoming reviews of the SWIOID and Statement of Expectations. We would love to hear from you, and ask you kindly to please complete a short (8 to 10 min) anonymous survey. Please also share the survey link with your networks if possible. Thank you for your support.

Have Your Say

Please note that this survey is active until the end of 2023.

Help save our Forgotten River

Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to help support our Forgotten River. Your money will go toward the following actions:

  • Furthering the research into the issues facing the Upper Murrumbidgee River and how we can fix them

  • Raising awareness among organisational stakeholders, government agencies, First Nations Peoples, various community groups and agency networks to discuss these issues and propose ways forward

  • Making submissions and engaging politicians to influence changes in policy surrounding water management

  • Ongoing awareness-raising and education through the Forgotten River website and other channels for the general public

Donate Now

Listen & Learn:

Why the Murrumbidgee River wrote a letter to Canberra — Take me to the River Episode 11

Our guest for this episode is Andy Lowes, author of the Letter from the Murrumbidgee River to Canberrans. Andy is Canberra born and bred, growing up swimming, fishing and walking by the Murrumbidgee. His lifelong interest in rivers has also seen him work at the Commonwealth level on the management of rivers in the broader Murray-Darling Basin.

Writing this letter from the voice of the Murrumbidgee River was an effort to raise awareness of an incredibly unusual time for the Canberra community and the Murrumbidgee River, from the devastating impacts of the drought and bushfires during the Summer of 2019 and 2020 to the COVID-19 pandemic that has transformed the way we interact with others. In this episode, we discuss how the letter helps explain the changes the river has seen in its ecology and the way people interact with it, and reinforces the need for immersing ourselves in nature.

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Andy Lowes