THE NORTH-WEST NSW WATER CRISIS

Years of drought, caused by climate change, and the consistent mismanagement of the Murray-Darling River System has led to a situation by which towns across North-West NSW are now in desperate need of clean, safe drinking water. The corporate greed of large-scale cotton farming has seen copious amounts of water pumped out of the Barwon River system, which breathes life into towns across Gamilaraay, Yuwalaraay and Barkindji countries, and has left local residents fearing deeply for their future.  

Towns such as Collarenebri are entirely reliant on the Barwon River system for both drinking water and all other water use, such as bathing and clothes washing. Now, locals are being forced into a situation where the only water they can access comes from the remaining stagnant parts of a river that has not flowed in over 9 months. While the water passes through a brief process of filtration, locals have emerged from showers covered in rashes and there have been reports of illness following consumption.  

 

The towns most affected by the water crisis are largely populated by Aboriginal families and communities. This is yet another showcase of the Australian Government's greed and disregard for human life and an indication of how this behavior absolutely and completely disproportionately effects First Nation peoples.  

 

Residents from across the various affected towns, such as Walgett, Collarenebri and Bourke, have expressed feelings of anger, sadness and terror. Local Aboriginal people now talk about facing the very real reality of having to leave their homes in order to ensure their ability to live. Aside from the obvious devastation this would cause financially, it would also displace a number of Gameroi people from country and various sites of extreme cultural significance. This is a blatant display of the continuing colonisation that occurs in Australia today.

 

We must fight against this and tell those in power that we will not accept such blatant disregard for human rights in so-called ‘Australia’.

Pictured: (top left) Collarenebri Werir May 2019

(top right) Collarenbri Weir 2013

(below) decaying fish found along a dry section of the Barwon River in Collarenebri

Pictured: rash obtained by a FIRE activist after showering at a local Collarenebri family's home

Wherever we are in this country we respectfully acknowledge the Traditional Owners of this land and pay respects to Elders past, present and emerging. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People have resisted the harmful practices of colonisation since invasion and are at the forefront of all current work being done to protect this land. Together we are striving to ensure that all people have access to clean and safe drinking water. Gali is life.