SS4.11 Water and Society - Science and Management in a Social and Economic Context
Date: Wednesday, June 12, 2002
Time: 3:00:00 PM
Location: Carson A
 
HarrisGP, CSIRO, Canberra, Australia, graham.harris@csiro.au
 
LAND USE AND WATER QUALITY IN THE MURRAY DARLING BASIN, AUSTRALIA
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Land clearing and agricultural development have led to major land use changes in the Murray Darling Basin, Australia. The introduction of western agricultural practices (largely sheep and wheat farming) has led to widespread dry land salinity and increasing salinity in the rivers. Other changes in river water quality, such as increased turbidity and acidity, can also be tied closely to land use change. Irrigation developments and the construction of dams and weirs have totally altered and regulated river flows also altering river ecology. The solution of these major environmental problems involves regional scale restoration of the landscape with severe socio-economic implications for local communities. Science, government and society will need to work closely together to achieve sustainability. The Australian Government recently announced a $1.4B National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality that is designed to address these interconnected problems. This paper will give examples of water quality issues in the Basin and will outline new initiatives that, in conjunction with local communities in rural areas, have begun to restore landscapes and improve river water quality.