TRANSFERRING water from the Shoalhaven River to the Sydney catchment will continue despite a plea from local river watchers to the NSW Water Minister to have the process stopped.
Last Tuesday members of the Shoalhaven River Alliance, Shoalhaven Riverwatch, the Kangaroo Valley Association and Member for Kiama Matt Brown met with Minister for Water Phil Costa to persuade him to stop transferring water from the important local river.
Only a week earlier Premier Nathan Rees announced the Shoalhaven River contributed 40 per cent of Sydney’s water consumption in the last year.
Shoalhaven River Alliance chairman Terry Barratt said that level of water extraction was unsustainable for the Shoalhaven River.
He believes a lack of fresh water flushes down the river has greatly increased salinity levels, affecting fish, prawn and eel breeding cycles.
“The high salinity is impacting on the health and biodiversity of the river,” Mr Barratt said.
“Without the flushes eels don’t travel downstream to mate in the ocean waters.
“The growing cycle of prawns is thrown out without nutrients flushing into the lower river.
“Fish stocks are also lower because they don’t get as many opportunities to breed.”
Mr Barratt said commercial and recreational fishermen had noticed changes in aquatic stock.
He said Minister Costa was receptive to their concerns but was still unsure whether the new water minister would commit to decreasing water transfers from the Shoalhaven River.
“The minister said he personally didn’t believe in transferring water from one river to another but he made it clear that Sydney would continue to rely of water from the Shoalhaven,” Mr Barratt said.
Mr Costa said he was happy to help out Member for Kiama Matt Brown and his constituents but wouldn’t commit to any changes to the current transfer system.
“As the new Water Minister I’m keen to get across all the issues,” Mr Costa said.
“There are a number of factors that need to be considered carefully as part of any decision relating to Shoalhaven and I’m doing that now.”
Mr Barratt said he and his fellow river watchers would wait for an unpcoming announcement regarding the Shoalhaven promised by Mr Costa at the meeting.
“He promised us an announcement before the end of the year so we’re waiting to see how he acts,” Mr Barratt said.
“The minister realised the impact the water transfers are having on the river and we’re hoping for a positive announcement to ensure the river’s future.”