Tough and difficult, or hopeless
Adding to the mismanagement and greed is the fact that Australia is leading the way in climate change.
The centre-left Labor government of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd deferred consideration of a scientific report into the crisis facing the basin's lower reaches until a ministerial meeting with state counterparts in November.
But Paton and other ecologists say much of the river system could be virtually dead by then, with vegetation on the lower Murray lost and fish species driven to extinction.
So far, estimates of climate change have proven to be low-balled, so those figures could be far worse.
Climate scientists have warned the continent is suffering accelerated climate change, with temperatures expected to rise by about 1 degree Celsius by 2030 and rainfall forecast to decrease by up to 20 percent by 2070 in the most populous southeast.
Australia this week cut its wheat output forecast by nearly 9 percent after the return of dry weather during a crucial planting period dashed hopes for a record crop from the world's second-biggest exporter.
And while Australia now has a government that has accepted that global warming is occurring, they, like all 'democratic' regimes, are beholden to the money powers that put them in office. Thus, even in emergency situations like this, their hands are tied.
Environment Minister Peter Garrett said the government was aware the situation in the region was critical, but negotiations to better manage water flows were "tough and difficult".(h/t cryptagon)