The Stream, December 16, 2020: The Murray Darling Basin Plan Needs Major Adaptations By 2026


  • The Murray-Darling Basin Authority reveals that the plan for the Australian basin needs to account for more frequent dry periods.
  • The U.S. Supreme Court sides with New Mexico in a dispute over a decades-old water sharing compact.
  • A new federally funded water infrastructure plan on Arizona’s Hopi reservation could bring clean water into the homes of families across the reservation.
  • Construction begins on the Edenville Dam in Midland County, Michigan.

Environmentalists in India claim a wetland is being purposefully drained by its private owners.

“The wetland is purposely dried off-and-on by vested interests with a view to showing that is it not a wetland, and open it up for real estate and commercial development.” – Aishwarya Sridhar, an environmentalist in India. Environmentalists claim that an unidentified group of people have been drying up patches of the Panje wetlands in the Indian town of Uran to drain large bodies of water and are purposefully restricting water flow inside the wetland to ensure water is evaporated. The Hindustan Times reports that the claims come days after the Raigad district administration said that per the definition of the 2017 wetland rules, there were no wetlands in Uran. Raigad collector Nidhi Choudhari said the district is working to protect Panje and that she was not aware of any of the alleged complaints or draining methods.


Dry Land and Rearing Cattle

Bodie Means, a cattle farmer in West Texas, always has one issue in mind: drought. He knows when the rain needs to fall: “Our rain generally comes in — maybe some in June, then July. July to September is our rain season,” Means said.

West Texans are resigned to a certain cycle of drought. “We’ve been through this too much the last 20 years,” Means said. “Starting in the nineties we had to get rid of nearly everything we had. Then it kind of started back like it was gonna get better, and it actually had.” Texas has experienced historic swings from severe drought to plentiful rain, but since 2010 the region has experienced declining conditions that echo the seven-year dry spell that ravaged the region in the 1950s. The destruction of thousands of farms and ranches in the state is an unwanted recurrence.

In Case You Missed It:  

Colorado River Indian Tribes Take Another Step Toward Marketing Value Water in Arizona – The tribes unveiled draft legislation to allow their water to be leased to users in Arizona off the reservation or stored underground.

HotSpots H2O: Wetland Restoration in India Aims to Prevent Human-Animal Conflict – In Assam, a state in northeastern India, authorities at Kaziranga National Park are restoring six wetlands and collecting rainwater to prevent human-animal conflict during the water-scarce winter months.

U.S. Supreme Court Sides With New Mexico Over Pecos River Dispute

The U.S. Supreme Court found that the Pecos River master overseeing a decades-old water-sharing compact between Texas and New Mexico correctly calculated that New Mexico should get credit for floodwater it stored in 2014. The Associated Press reports that Texas previously argued that New Mexico did not meet its obligations because a significant amount of water had evaporated while in storage and filed a motion seeking a review of the river master’s decision. The Supreme Court denied Texas’s motion on Monday.



Running water inside a home is rare for families living on the Hopi Reservation in Arizona, the Arizona Republic reports. Many families rely on what can amount to less than two gallons (7.5 liters) a day per person, which is hauled from communal faucets. One family reported traveling 16 miles (25.7 kilometers) to collect water. If a house does have running water, it can often be contaminated with unsafe levels of arsenic. The tribe’s leaders are moving ahead with a federally funded plan for new infrastructure, including a pipeline that will remedy contamination problems and extend water lines to more homes.


Emergency construction work on a portion of the Edenville Dam in Midland County, Michigan has begun after the dam collapsed in May, The Detroit News reports. Michigan’s Transportation department and the Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy approved $2.3 million for the work, which crews are expected to complete in about 2 ½ months. According to the state, the Edenville Dam is classified as a high hazard dam and another collapse could result in severe downstream flooding.

In context: Country’s Aging Dams a ‘Sitting Duck,’ Facing a Barrage of Hazards


The 2020 review of progress made on Australia’s Murray-Darling Basin plan revealed that the plan will require major adaptation in 2026 to allow for more frequent dry periods, The Guardian reports. The Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) is not proposing to alter the plan before its final review date in 2024, even though the current plan does not include the likely impact of climate change. The report concluded by heralding the progress towards achieving the plan’s goals, including protecting glow regimes cross much of the southern basin and avoiding environmental degradation in the Coorong, Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth ecosystems during the millennium drought.

In context: Plan for Water Management in Australia’s Murray-Darling Basin Signed Into Law

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