River ‘needs all its friends’

IT’S time for citizens to “chip in” to ensure the Murray-Darling Basin Plan succeeds, academics believe.

Environmental experts from the Border’s Charles Sturt University and the Sunshine Coast University have teamed with training organisation Skillset to develop a “bottom-up” approach to involve the community in the plan.

The idea won the people’s choice award at a Coffs Harbour sustainable growth conference at in October.

The experts have since been talking to the Murray-Darling Basin Authority, councils — including Albury — and state agencies to drive the idea.

Skillset’s Ashley Bland said he was passionate that a “significant part of Australia’s history must be done right”.

“We all know the drama and conflict getting the plan into law,” he said.

“The government struggled on it’s own.

“That’s not to say the authority isn’t up to it — it’s a hard job — but it will be done better if everyone chips.”

Mr Bland said maintaining viable regional towns with less water required a partnership between government and communities and agriculture, industry and environment groups.

Charles Sturt’s Max Finlayson said the university was keen to use the knowledge of those with basin expertise to contribute to the plan for the “best possible outcome”.

Mr Bland, from Bathurst, yesterday discussed the project, with Professor Finlayson,

He said effective evaluation measures, good research, communication and workforce skill development were the keys to the plan.

He said the next step was to organise a major conference involving interested parties.

The Sunshine Coast University’s adjunct associate professor Peter Waterman has also been heavily involved in developing the idea.

Interested people should contact Charles Sturt University.

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