Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Edward River's level must be maintained

Deniliquin Business Chamber believes dropping Deniliquin's Edward River during Easter will directly impact on tourism numbers.

ZOE MCMAUGH February 4, 2014 4:55am

Dropping the Edward River during the Easter period is ‘‘just cruel’’, according to Deniliquin Business Chamber president Paula Rutter.

Chamber believes government initiated low river levels directly impact on tourism numbers, which in turn creates a negative effect on business.

Mrs Rutter is pleading with the NSW Government and its authorities to delay dropping the river, or stopping the practice altogether.

She said it appeared the Edward River’s level was already dropping, and is concerned the gradual drawdown would reach its peak just before the busy Easter period.

‘‘We just can’t handle it,’’ Mrs Rutter said.

‘‘Our town is based on tourism, especially at Easter and Christmas.

‘‘At our business (Mobil North, Deniliquin) we rely on weekend anglers and tourists using the river, and that’s just our business.

‘‘There are so many businesses that rely on our caravan parks being full and our river being used.

‘‘If people think the river is down again, they will simply go elsewhere.

‘‘With the ongoing competition Deniliquin faces with its neighbours of Echuca/Moama, as well as Barham/Koondrook on the Murray, certainly it makes sense to keep the river at a reasonable level throughout the year so Deniliquin can still compete for the tourism market.’’

Mrs Rutter said this was not the first time chamber or other local business or tourism groups had tried to secure river levels, and said it was time for something to be done.

‘‘For years and years they have told us dropping the river because of Stevens Weir and the fish ladder,’’ she said.

‘‘The fish ladder is completed so they can’t use that (low levels so work could be carried out) as an excuse anymore – someone has to take responsibility.

‘‘Local Government and the NSW Government need to stop passing the buck and someone has to say ‘yes we are dropping the river, and this is why’.

‘‘Certainly while there is an argument that the river levels need to be kept at a reasonable level to manage erosion and environmental impacts, again our advice is that this can still be achieved (as well as allowing for maintenance of the river banks and weir) without impacting too much on the water levels.

‘‘Given too that the Deni Blues and Roots Festival is in April which attracts thousands of people to the town, it is incredibly embarrassing to host these visits with a ‘trickling’ river system.’’.

‘‘When you look over the National Bridge and see the sandbars getting bigger, it just breaks your heart,’’ she said.

Official NSW Government river levels information shows the river height has been fairly static since last Tuesday – hovering about 2.5m and 2.6m.

Mrs Rutter said chamber would work with Deniliquin Council and community members to ensure government controlled river levels did not jeopardise the long term viability of the town.

Having questioned effective management of the river in previous years, Deniliquin Council says it has already started the ball rolling.

In coming weeks it will form a committee of river stakeholders, which general manager Des Bilske said would encourage discussion on flows and river levels, general river safety and use of the river.

Mr Bilske said Deniliquin Council had been working on forming the group since September, and would invite a range of stakeholders, including farming, environmental, tourism and business representatives.

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