The Whole Truth: Water Deliberately Dumped into Flooded Area

SNOWY Hydro chief executive, Terry Charlton, recently confirmed that water was dumped into the already flooded Murray-Darling Basin, but said the authority had little choice (The Australian, December 15, 2010, page 7).   A real time operational diagram, however, tells a very different story.

Last Wednesday, Snowy Hydro could have sent water into Eucumbene dam.  At only 20 percent it had a storage capacity of a whopping 4 cubic kilometres of water.

Instead, the water managers set the trans-mountain tunnels so water was flowing away from Lake Eucumbene at over 80 cubic metres per second (6,912 megalitres for Wednesday).

Water was filling Talbingo and forcing releases from Jounama pondage into the already spilling Blowering Dam, threatening the township of Tumut and adding to the crisis along the Murrumbidgee River.

As if this wasn’t enough, the real time operational diagram for Wednesday December 8, 2010, shows that this water, drawn from Eucumbene, was also being used by Murray electricity generators pushing even more water directly into the Murray Darling Basin.

“Mr Charlton was incorrect in saying that generation was only from inflows below Eucumbene last Wednesday, although they were large at the time,” a source told me this morning.

“Why weren’t Mr Charlton’s water managers pushing the water back for storage into Eucumbene from the Tumut system,” he asked.

Tumut River residents were issued with urgent evacuation orders last Thursday after the increase in outflows.

Desperate farmers phoned Snowy Hydro last week asking why flood waters were being sent west, rather than east to Lake Eucumbene, given this dam was less than half full, but their calls were ignored.

The Snowy Mountains Scheme was built for the storage and diversion of water with hydropower generation as a by product.

Current and past employees claim that the current board and management are now driven almost exclusively by money.

“The management are setting the business up for sale when the NSW government changes next year,” said one source. “They want the balance sheet to look as good as possible so [we] are generating [power] like mad, even when electricity prices are low and irrespective of downstream impacts.”

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41 Responses to The Whole Truth: Water Deliberately Dumped into Flooded Area

  1. Polyaulax December 16, 2010 at 2:59 pm #

    So we inch closer to the truth. Revenue,privatisation…whatever extra from Eucumbene combined with the high natural flows was probably sent down to milk maximum generation capacity from Tumut 3 power station,the biggest of the scheme.

    80 cumecs sent west from Eucumbene,split in an unquantified way between the Murray and the Tumut. I’d love to know the breakdown between potential/actual Eucumbene water,and unregulatable inflows below Tumut Pondage,and the same breakdown between the Murray elements. the engineer did say that the natural inflows were ‘large at the time’,while correcting Charlton’s claim. Whatever it is,it looks like SH did put a few more centimetres than I thought on the Tumut flood of 9/12.

    But what is this 16480 ML figure referring to? 80 cumecs is 0.08 ML/sec,which works out to 6912 ML/day. Is the 16480 ML a typo? Or the total transfer size just to the Tumut for the overtopping period? Or for both systems?

    Can you reproduce this RT diagram?

  2. Jennifer Marohasy December 16, 2010 at 3:18 pm #


    My mistake it should be 6,912 megs. I will make the change in the text.

    Thanks, Jennifer

    PS 40 cumecs going in Tumut direction, and 41 cumecs towards Geehi with water coming from Island Bend adding to flow.

  3. Robert December 16, 2010 at 3:58 pm #

    Waters were knowingly released into a major flood when they might have been contained? It’s now established? And the quantities were substantial? And a revenue motive can be added to the sinister cant about “environmental flows” and “living rivers”?

    Sounds like Mother Russia in the thirties, complete with electrification mania. No wonder the Green Left want to be calm and reasonable about this.

  4. polyaulax December 16, 2010 at 5:25 pm #

    I don’t think the Green Left know about this,Robert. But yes it sounds exactly like….er,Mother Russia…

    This flow figure,3450 ML/day, is for Wednesday,the day Charlton said these flows were stopped. I suppose he meant ‘end Wednesday’? So Thursday 9th saw SH’s contribution to flow drop by 40 cumecs through Jounama spillway,thence Blowering ,which peaked by midnight. But the gauge at Tumut peaked in the early afternoon of the 9th,no doubt greatly assisted by the arrival of a big peak from the Goobarragandra. SH’s shutdown would have marginally lowered the subsequent hump seen at Tumut early on the 11th.

    Blowering was brimful all November,even while dam discharge was constant at near 10,000ML/day,keeping the river well full,and vulnerable to a flood event.

    The years flow data at Tumut also shows that the two earlier spring floods were considerably higher than this one..and that Blowering was not being discharged at anything like Novembers volume and duration. NOW was storing water from June onwards,when the level had barely reached 40%. They probably thought the wet spring couldn’t persist,and wouldn’t pile another flood on top.

  5. Polyaulax December 16, 2010 at 6:02 pm #

    Looking further in to recent flow history in the lower Tumut,the records show that NOW acted at the end of November to reduce the impact of SH/upper Tumut water on the modest flood event of the turn of that month.

    They turned down/off Blowering for a a couple of days,and you can see the drop in the gauge at Tumut,where the flow halves,and is made up pretty much entirely of floodwater from the Goobarragandra.

    So NOW had the headroom then to pull about 10,000ML out of that flood,which was generated mainly by the Goobarragandra, the lower catchment right bank tributaries and a flood from Gilmore Creek which enters the Tumut below the Tumut gauge.

    This action from NOW also cut back a little the impact of Tumut water on the Murrumbidgee flows which then rose quickly to flood through Gundagai on the 3rd and 4th.

  6. Jennifer Marohasy December 16, 2010 at 6:20 pm #

    Thanks for taking an interest in this, Polyaulax. I couldn’t give the story to The Australian, though I tried all morning. No interest.

    And Polyaulax, you are the only one who has asked to see the real time operational diagram. I thought I would be flooded with requests; and that at least one journalist at The Australian might be a little bit curious. If you email me at jennifermarohasy at telling me something about yourself I might be able to arrange something.

    And Robert, thanks for caring. I like your comment about the Green Left wanting us to remain calm and reasonable! Its what I get from my Green Left friends when I start telling them about such things as farmers being deliberately dumped on. And I noticed your blog explains that: THE ENLIGHTENMENT IS OVER. Now I know why I am so upset.

  7. JPA Knowles December 16, 2010 at 7:52 pm #

    Well done. How many people have your persistence?
    I wonder what insurance companies paying out downstream would have to say about this. Surely, the Snowy Hydro people have to be accountable for damage they cause.
    Perhaps if you dress up this man-made water dumping with ‘climate change’ you might just get a bite from the lame-stream media.

  8. Debbie December 16, 2010 at 8:49 pm #

    You are an amazing and tenacious person. I have some knowledge of how difficult it is to get straight answers out of these people.
    Good on you for recognising there was even more to this story.
    It is really very sad though.
    It seems, as another person wrote on this site that the most important things are contracts and licences.
    Because they have a licence that says they can, they have dumped water on top of a flood.
    This is sad because we have public servants who have shown little concern for the people downstream….because their licence says they can.
    It is also sad because they have trashed water that could prove very useful to both the environment and farmers next season….because their licence says they can.
    What is totally missing here is any logic or common sense.
    You must be totally exhausted after several days of trying to pin down these people. I can’t believe how many times they have tried to dodge your questions. Obviously they knew they had done the wrong thing and were scrambling to try and prove otherwise.
    Once again….good for you.

  9. Julie December 16, 2010 at 9:06 pm #

    Jennifer, Thank you for being so persistent in finding out the truth.
    You are a very talented writer and obviously a very intelligent woman.
    You have done more to help our cause than anyone so far.
    Keep up the good work! I will look for your articles to read with interest how this all ends up.
    Jennifer for P.M.!

  10. Another Ian December 17, 2010 at 10:28 am #

    Jen, Another triumph for bureaucracy!

    and check the link for Cohen on CSIRO

  11. MVFFA December 17, 2010 at 12:17 pm #

    MVFFA believes this story needs to be told in the wider public arena. For some inexplicable reason, the main stream media is not picking it up.
    Maybe they are getting fed another type of bureaucratic double talk? Maybe they’re too confused by all the information to turn it into a story that really should be told?
    We would like to suggest that everyone who visits this site and is outraged at the evidence Jennifer has uncovered, pass on the links to all and sundry and also get in touch with any media contacts they have.
    People power can still succeed in our country.
    Submitting a comment here will also gain attention.
    It is clear that even though our governments and bureaucracies are loudly crowing that they can manage water and it is imperative that they get more control over it because “irigators are wasting it”,the exact opposite is true.
    From what we can work out, our government authorities have frivolously wasted something in the order of 2,000,000 megalitres (yep about 4 Sydney Harbours full) since July 2010. They are dumping a precious resource into a system that does not need it and it will be “the environment” and our “regional communities” and also “our taxpayers” that will pay for this needless waste. Rest assured they will all still get their paychecks, paid for by “our taxpayers”.
    As is also clear from this unfolding story, we may never get the exact figures because the layers of bureacratic legislation that surrounds this issue mean we get too confused to work it out! That’s probably OK because bureaucrats like to work with inexact ranges anyway. Lately in the water debate the range is between 3,000 to 7,000 GL. Nearly the entire storage capacity of Eucumbene can fit inside that range. How is that for some transparent and exact science? Why should we worry if we can’t get an exact figure?
    Is that why the main stream media are not prepared to take this issue up? Are they scared of making a mistake on the figures? Don’t worry guys, the answers are simple, just don’t expect to get them from people who have a vested interest in keeping you completely confused.
    I don’t think Jennifer gets paid for her work….how about those who do get paid for robust investigative jounalism, take this story up?

  12. John Sayers December 17, 2010 at 4:45 pm #

    Jennifer – I have friends currently camping in the Tumut caravan park which is currently full and has been since Saturday.

  13. Polyaulax December 17, 2010 at 6:40 pm #

    Jennifer,thanks for your offer. I will contact you shortly. I’m itching to know not only how the two Eucumbene tunnels were managed,but also how the aqueduct system and the input from Tooma Dam were managed…

    MVFFA, I want you to know what the official records for Blowering Dam tell us about NOW’s management of that reservoir. I hope you will see it as very positive news.

    Using their custom output functions on the real time water data for various gauges in the Tumut Valley from the dam north,it is possible to reconstruct the history and sources of the floods that have hit the valley since the start of September,and find out how much has entered Lake Blowering from the catchment. Snowy Hydro’s contribution overall,and any waters sourced from Eucumbene,are contained within this overall figure,though they cannot be defined without SH’s ‘confidential’ data.

    From charts generated for the year to date,releases from the dam totalled some 200 GL for Jan/Feb,with the dam staying around 30% full for this period.Then releases were greatly reduced for the period March to end September [total about only 75GL for the seven months}, and the dam began to slowly fill,picking up pace with winters rain and snow events from mid-July. NOW was storing water for summer. The dam was 90% full by the end of September.

    The first flood in the Tumut Valley around Tumut was in early September. Blowering contributed almost nothing to this event,which peaked higher than this months event. Better still,NOW managed Blowering so as to contribute nothing to the biggest flood of mid-October,because they had room in the dam to hold back water.

    In other words,the Water Office kept Snowy Hydro and natural catchment water from above Blowering from exacerbating those big local floods,which the combined gauge data reveal were fed ENTIRELY by undammed tributaries like the Goobarragandra,and Gilmore Creek,which of course enetr the Tumut below Blowering.

    But Blowering’s buffering capacity was nearly exhausted by the end of October,there was still too much water coming down, and they were forced to discharge Blowering at nearly the maximum rate for most of November, 8,000 ML/day and a little more. We might surmise that SH water was a proportion of this,but this was manageable over this period .While it kept the river higher,it was not spilling.

    However,they still had some headroom,sufficient to scale back/shut down discharge for 24 to 48 hour periods to mitigate further flooding,including knocking a couple of days flow out of the river on the 29th and 30th of November this helped drop the river at Tumut,which was running at 40 to 60 cm below minor flood level [2m].

    Then,on the 8/12,the flood inflows augmented by Snowy Hydro water overwhelmed Blowerings controlled max discharge ability,and began spilling over the ungated spillway. This combined with lower catchment inflows to produce the third flood of the year for the Tumut Valley…but Snowy Hydro had shut down the Eucumbene contributions the next day,so their contribution subsided over coming days.

    This data shows that SH releases contributed only briefly to flooding of the 9th,and for the greater part of the wet winter and spring,NOW managed Blowering to reduce flooding effectively.

  14. Robert December 18, 2010 at 1:12 am #

    It’s very pleasing to know that some water authorities do their job correctly at times. I hope they are well remunerated.

    But I’d also like to keep a sharp focus on the issue which the largely unremunerated Jennifer has raised, and which is the main subject of our discussion.


    With contractual/environmental factors as justification, and revenues as a further or even primary motivation, stored waters may have been deliberately added to a major flood.

    Polyaulax very helpfully mentions that “the flood inflows augmented by Snowy Hydro water overwhelmed Blowerings controlled max discharge ability…”. What was the nature of those inflows from Snowy Hydro?

    Any other releases of water, at any other time, for any other reason, are not at issue here.

  15. Polyaulax December 18, 2010 at 8:54 am #

    Robert,we know from Jen’s info–and this is just for one day,Wednesday 8/12– that 40cumecs was sent from Eucumbene. About 3450 ML that day. Then SH stopped that volume.

    I’ve dug a little deeper,give some more background,and need to correct what I said about Blowering’s spilling. Blowering can apparently discharge 22,000ML via its bottom outlet next to the power station. The spillway is designed to handle 203,000 ML/day flow if necessary… you can see this December event was NOT a major flood by design standards,and as I pointed out before,the Earlier two floods at Tumut and beyond were higher. My claim that Blowering’s controlled maximum discharge was overwhelmed is wrong. NOW appears to have kept that outlet discharging at half design capacity and let the spillway do the rest.

    I stated previously that Blowering spilled from the 9th..actually it started going over at the end of November,and within a few days was running about 50cm deep across the lip. The pulse from the 9/12 took it up to 1m over,and it has since dropped back to 50cm. So the spillway action was a function of not running the outlet works at full capacity.Maybe this has something to do with maintaining ideal volumes for the power station. Anyway,I digress…

    From real time water data for Blowering Dam,we can see Blowering’s net inflow was about 10,000 ML on the 8/12, 22000 ML on 9/12, 25000 ML on10/12, 20,000 ML on 11/12. The net inflow for the month to date is about 200,000 ML [200GL]

    Given that daily data,and Snowy Hydro’s contribution from Eucumbene was for one day, the contentious contribution to Tumut Valley flooding was very small.

    We only have a figure for Wednesday 8/12. We know no actual SH Eucumbene inputs for the weeks before,but if we assume they were at that 40 cumec level, then at times SH Eucumbene contributed 40% to the base flow of the non-flood river immediately below the dam.After the Goobarragandra R. enters a few km on,this percentage drops considerably. This is all,I repeat,based on a hypothetical.

    A further point is that November was so wet,Blowering was full with a net inflow of 250GL for the month,and in order to at least keep a days emergency headroom,NOW was letting out 8,000ML/day on average all month. This discharge rate kept the river very full,though at least 50cm below minor flood level at Tumut gauge.

  16. Robert December 18, 2010 at 11:14 am #

    Polyaulax, thank you for correcting yourself, and thank you for all those extra details.

    Now, I think it’s important not to bury the main issue. What waters were added to flooding with no other justification than environmental/contractual flows? If the purpose of those releases was power generation, it can hardly be called a justification.

    Now, many of us commenting here would not consider anything beyond hydrological necessity to be a justification for releasing stored waters into a flooded system. In any quantity! I have used the word “scandal” and regard it as appropriate.

    It’s important not to simply pile up words and details to defuse the issue by sheer fatigue. (This form of spin should be known as the “Judith Curry Manoeuvre”.)

    Jennifer has done a lot of unpaid or underpaid work to raise the issue. The only justification for now burying the issue is if no purely contractual/environmental flows occurred, with or without revenue motive. In any quantity!

  17. Ian Mott December 18, 2010 at 12:33 pm #

    I don’t want to rain on anyone’s flood story, but what I don’t see in any of this is the critical information that will tell us what the actual impact of this release was. How wide was the flooded cross section at Queenbeyan and what was the flow speed? It is all very well to confirm that 80m3/sec was released but if the flow speed down stream was 1m/sec and the flood width was 1600m wide then this release raised the flood height by 5cm. The same would apply if the speed was 0.5m/sec and the flood width was 3,200 metres.

    To put that another way, 6912ML only has to be spread over 138 km2 of flood plain to register as a 5cm rise in water level. Water flowing at an average of 1m/second will flow 86km in 24 hours. And the flood width would only have to be 1.6km wide to produce that 5cm rise. A simple comparison of the total Hydro release with the total flow in the relevant system will not tell the story because each additional increase in height produces a wider flood surface. And in the MIA that means a significantly wider surface.

    So at this stage we have, surprise, surprise, evidence that bureaucrats stuff up. What I don’t see is any numbers that can indicate the actual significance of that stuff up.

  18. Polyaulax December 18, 2010 at 12:43 pm #

    Robert,the cynic in me says Snowy Hydro was generating power revenue somewhat under the cover of honouring the RAR commitment.

    Phil Costa,while offering support to SH in saying no flood exacerbation occurred,pointedly stated SH did have operational discretion under the agreement and there was no compulsion to send the water down. We still have no idea how much or how long they did this under that general 1026 GL/annum figure.

    Why was SH doing this? I don’t know enough about the electricity market price movements to say.

    My piling up of statistics is fatiguing -apologies- but it is essential in order to isolate and define the offending events in the absence of direct statements from corporation or department. Also it’s been a lot of [unpaid] fun with the water information interface!

  19. Polyaulax December 18, 2010 at 12:58 pm #

    Just quickly,Ian,that 80 cumecs has to be divided between the Tumut and the Murray,so halve the numbers.

  20. Ian Mott December 18, 2010 at 1:18 pm #

    My comment from the “City Deal” thread.

    “Sorry folks, I’m with Polyaulax here. If the RAR is only 2% of the volume then its impact on flood height is substantially less than 2% of the 9 metre flood height. The last 2% is spread over a much wider cross section than the first 2%. So even if the entire channel had vertical sides the RAR would only account for 18cm of flood height. But we know that the flood width will widen substantially as the water level rises. And it will do so in proportion to the slope of the flood plain towards the channel, which in the MIA is sweet FA. If the actual flood surface width was ten times the river width then this RAR would have only lifted flood level by 1.8 cm!!!

    Frankly, this whole thread is totally underwhelming. For fox ache, this was the last week before the deadline for submissions on what will happen to 3000GL EACH YEAR of real people’s precious water and this blog was wandering off up a barely relevant blind alley over what some bureaucrats might have done with 7GL/day during two weeks of a one in 50 year flood event. Yes, it might have pressed a few buttons but in the big picture it means absolutely jack $hit”.

  21. Robert December 18, 2010 at 4:00 pm #

    Jennifer, you’ve got some people very rattled. Especially the underwhelmed. It appears that stored waters really were released into a flood for unacceptable reasons and motives. Hence the fudging and trivialising, in place of clear denial.

    I suppose that bureaucratic stuff-up is possible. If the persons responsible had been on a long bender and only sobered up in time to perform the releases, they would be perhaps be unaware of catastrophic flooding in western NSW. If they were aware, then the word “stuff-up” would hardly be sufficient. It would be an underwhelming description of their actions, so to speak.

  22. Jennifer Marohasy December 18, 2010 at 8:27 pm #

    Ian Mott and some others,

    The releases of last Wednesday were never about the Queanbeyan flood; your comment suggesting as much suggest an ignorance of the operations of the Snowy system.

    I too am keen to know specific impacts, particularly along the Tumut River.

    In order to calculate this, hydrologists will need, in the first instance, more detail on releases from Lake Eucumbene over recent weeks which I understand total about 125,000 megalitres (equivalent to 1/4 of a Sydney Harbour of water). This is water additional to flows from the storms and more general rainfall over the same period. This is water brought across from east of the Great Dividing Range to an already brimming Murray Darling Basin.

    The operational chart for Wednesday of last week (December 8) shows Terry Chartlton’s assurance this Wednesday (December 15) as published in The Australian, to be incorrect and misleading. Mr Charlton said that no releases of water were being made from Lake Eucumbene when in fact the ‘smoking gun’ shows 80 cubic metres of water per second were released over that same 24 hour period.

  23. Ian Mott December 18, 2010 at 9:20 pm #

    “recent weeks” and fractions of Sydney harbour are hardly accurate terms, Jennifer. I used Queenbeyan as an example, Wagga would have done just as well. Was the 6,912 ML in that 24 hour period split between the Murray and the Murrumbidgee, or not? Then pick a point anywhere on either of those rivers, especially within a days flow, and tell me what the total flow was at that point, and then explain how the additional flow impacted on flood height.

    You have implied from day one with this story, Jennifer, that this release was some sort of major adverse impact on the folks on the river when even back of the envelope numbers suggest otherwise. Language like “an already brimming Murray Darling Basin” makes great copy for the bimbosphere but if your claimed 125,000 ML was spread over any more than 18 days then the daily total would be less than 6912 ML/day. And that means my comparison of the daily 6912 ML figure with total daily flows remains spot on. You had a duty to put these numbers in perspective but you chose not to for the sake of a bit of spin and ego.

    One can only conclude that you have had a nice little indulgence on a “intrepid investigator” theme, but on an issue that is 3/5th of 1/8th of sweet FA. I was in the 1974 flood (our student rental house had debris on the roof ridgeline) and can confirm that an extra 2cm on a one in fifty year flood is of zero consequence.

  24. cohenite December 18, 2010 at 10:18 pm #

    Mottie, your figures may indicate little consequence but do you think the bureacrats knew this before they went ahead with the release?

  25. Robert December 18, 2010 at 11:21 pm #

    I was in the fifty year Kempsey flood of 2000. Also, last year’s severe flood. On both occasions I had to walk several times through flooded forest to get to the fringe of town to help keep a service operating. It was about five hours of walking each time, and I am now 61 years of age.

    I have vivid memories of water just lapping river businesses and homes, soaking some, just missing others, depending on situation. It never occurred to me that a couple of centimetres more wouldn’t matter. Maybe it would not have mattered. It’s an interesting notion.

    On the matter of waste, the 2000 Macleay River flood was followed immediately by searing drought. I suppose the real scandal is our failure as a nation to harvest rainfall relentlessly and methodically. Gaia is a sorry old hag. Her worshippers want to reduce us to a frightened species living off crumbs and spills. Their notions of land and conservation often seem to come from the packaging on the organic, Free Trade coffee they buy from inner-urban health food stores.

    Amazingly, they seem to be winning.

  26. David Joss December 19, 2010 at 6:52 am #

    Ian your point that we must be careful about exaggerating is well made. However I think Jennifer is right to air this issue.
    I am sick to death of the deceits, half-truths and misinformation from public servants.
    We pay them decent salaries to look after our assets, not to meddle with the systems and then lie when they are queried.
    We are continually told how important and precious water is.
    To dump any quantity of it into an already flooding system ought to be a crime.
    As Robert says, the real scandal is our failure to harvest water relentlessly.
    We need more dams, not bigger floods.

  27. hunter December 19, 2010 at 9:11 am #

    Imagine how far down the road to serfdom the press has gone when the refuse documented stories showing what Jennifer has found.
    The West is in deep trouble.
    I only visit occasionally these days, but didn’t that hive mind/sockpuppet ‘Luke’ claim to have special expertise showing how Australia was drying up in to permanent drought? Has he weighed in yet in his miserable fashion?
    Jennifer, keep up the good work. Truth is worth it, even it if is counter-consensual.

  28. Ian Mott December 19, 2010 at 11:18 am #

    Yes, Cohenite, I would be the last person to be accused of lifting a single finger to protect a bureaucrats backside. But it is more than likely that most of the bureaucrats in the decision loop understand the nature of the flows and the implications of any addition to it. It would be implicit in their understanding of flood behaviour that the greatest agent in preventing the rise of flood water levels and the damage it does is the width that water can spread to.

    My guess is that they were initially puzzled at what the heck this woman was on about, which is easily mistaken for obfuscation. This would have given way to risk minimisation strategies once it became clear that there was an emotive perceptual issue to the releases that, surprise, surprise, they would have trouble answering with facts. And as the record now shows, this gave way to expressions of concern by SH (over the perception, not the reality) and the deflection of responsibility to a higher contractual authority that conveniently furthers their own intra-government agenda.

    But the issue was done and dusted by 9th December when the releases stop. What continued was a presumption of relevance long after it should have been put out of its misery. Believe me, once you have had 35cm of water inside your house, an extra 2 cm has zero relevance to the damage done or the cost of the clean up. And once you have had water inside your house for 12 hours, an extra hour added to the flood peak is also of zero consequence.

    And yes, David and Robert, we do need more storage capacity. But this circus took place during the last week for MDBA submissions. It was “try time” and this blog was in back play, retieing it’s boot laces. We needed to win the game (bury the MDBA Plan) before we start thinking about the Grand Final. But all we got was a bit of hoopla.

  29. Robert December 19, 2010 at 1:24 pm #

    My father told me of the very successful barrister, Clive Evatt Senior. Evatt was no entertainer or rhetorician, and did not impress by his manner. He found a single definite weak point, and would not leave it till defeat was conceded. On that single point.

    I can’t think of any strategy that would bring a quick halt to the pervasive environmentalism that infects the control-points of our society.

    Nor do I have the capacity to calculate whether a RAR release would add 2cm and one hour to a flood. That sounds more exact than rough fractions of Sydney Harbour, but, of course, it isn’t.

    I do have the capacity to judge a RAR release unjustified in time of flood. I hope Jennifer ignores the bluster and finds the time and energy to see this through. I’d suggest that people who shriek about jack $hit, sweet FA – and even fractions of sweet FA – won’t be winning many arguments for us, big or small.

  30. Polyaulax December 19, 2010 at 2:09 pm #

    I still find there is no case for anything more than a minor SH contribution to the flood peak of the last,and lowest,of the three Tumut Valley floods this year. It cannot be ignored that the peak flooding and the bulk volume in the Murrumbidgee came from the Murrumbidgee itself above the Tumut confluence,at a time when NOW was able to pull back Blowering discharges…

    The flood was a result of saturated catchments,no buffering capacity available in Burrinjuck, and heavy rainfall across just about every possible tributary catchment. All ACT dams,plus Googong were full,too. This is a catchment wide event that we have not seen for many,many years.

    We are unused to flooding on the Murrumbidgee;it’s been nearly fifteen years since the river passed the minor flood level at Gundagai. In the decade prior to that,the river beat that mark EIGHT times,and the records show this sort of frequency was the norm. Even the eight year WW2 drought saw two minor floods.

    The flood history at Gundagai suggests that Murrumbidgee flooding is not strongly influenced by optimising control of the Tumut dam system,which was complete by the start of the seventies.

  31. Ian Mott December 19, 2010 at 2:45 pm #

    So do tell us, Robert. Was that your “penetrating strategic insight” or merely your “vague and fatuous waffle”? Or are they one and the same these days? And thank you for your unique perspective on the use of fractions in winning arguments. But when you have managed to see the words of your own submissions repeated verbatim in key legal definitions in legislation, then do come and we’ll have a chat about winning arguments. OK?

    And for your own sake, I will pretend I didn’t even read your claim that estimates based on actual percentages of river flow are no more accurate than “rough fractions of Sydney Harbour”.

  32. Ray Boorman December 19, 2010 at 2:49 pm #

    Jennifer, I’ve got to agree with polyaulax, who has provided a very interesting account. The actual amount of water, ~7Gl/day, released by SH would not have made much difference to the floods below. Every km it travelled downriver from Tumut Dam would have lessened its effect on flood levels. Why this water was released into the river instead of being sent to Eucumbene is another matter. What is the capacity of the tunnel which diverts water to Eucumbene? If it can’t take ~7 Gl/day, then the release was probably necessary.

  33. Robert December 19, 2010 at 3:33 pm #

    Ian, that was my penetrating strategic insight.

  34. Ian Mott December 20, 2010 at 8:54 am #

    So it is all downhill from here is it?

  35. Debbie December 21, 2010 at 4:21 pm #

    Oh dear!
    I have been away for a few days and in the process I had the opportunity to see first hand the Murray and the Murrumbidgee as well as the Edwards River and every backwater, creek, stream, billabong, redgum stand, flooded caravan park, flooded farms, flooded houses and everything else you can possibly think of between the MIA and Melbourne.
    You should all see it. It is awesome!
    I had to drive two different ways because extra roads started to flood.
    What a tragic irony that we have politicians, bureaucrats and sadly too many populist academics all arguing about an “environment” that seems to only exist in their own minds. They have all forgotten, or maybe they didn’t know that our “environment” is very well equipped to handle “drought and flooding rains”. We’re not, but it is.
    In the process of legislating to “save the environment” or maybe under the “guise” of “saving the environment” they have managed to waste an incredible amount of money and water. Maybe they would do better if they concentrated on ways to “save” the money and the water? The “environment” doesn’t need any help thanks!
    Whether their added flows did any real damage or not is not really the point. At its most basic level it was a shameful and profligate waste of a precious resource and it most certainly did nothing to help people downstream at Tumut, nor did it do anything at all to help “the environment”.
    They would definitley have “helped” if they had filled Lake Eucumbene so that we have as much excess water stored as possible before, inevitably, the next round of shortages are upon us.
    And Motty, I read your MDBA submission, it is excellent and does much to debunk the “end of system flow” theories that the MDBA is relying on.
    Well done.
    Instead of running for parliament, which I asked about elsewhere on this blog, would you be interested in Mike Taylor’s job?
    Unfortunately it is all downhill from here. Last time I checked, water always runs downhill unless you pump it. Where else does anyone think it went? Once it gets past Blowering and Hume, it’s gone! Why on earth would anyone think it is a good idea to put more of it on top of a major flood? Can anyone tell me why that’s a good idea? I cannot abide the wilful waste of any valuable resource, especially by people who then get paid to waste it. Does anyone remember what “frugal” means? Have we all forgotten the basic, common sense rule that we must save in times of excess so that we can survive in times of shortage? Let’s not lose the point here by getting caught up in arguments about figures and semantics.
    Jennifer has done an excellent job highlighting some real and very worrying inconsistencies that are in the current water dabate. Don’t forget that.

  36. Steve Short December 22, 2010 at 6:15 am #

    The successor to the government’s disastrous Green Loans scheme has been scrapped just days before it was due to begin, throwing the jobs of thousands of people into doubt.

    The Climate Change Minister, Greg Combet, said yesterday the poor state of government records and damning independent assessments of the Green Loans program meant he could not have confidence in the replacement scheme – Green Start – going ahead.

    ”There are risks with the data that we cannot satisfactorily mitigate and for that reason, amongst some other issues, the government has determined not to proceed with Green Start,” Mr Combet said.

    The government has also been forced to commit $30 million in compensation for the approximately 10,000 people who were trained and accredited to work as household energy auditors, as many had been relying on Green Start to provide them with continued work when Green Loans ended.

    The dumping of Green Start is the latest in a long line of problems for the government’s environment programs following deaths and house fires in its now-axed home insulation scheme and significant budget blowouts from rooftop solar rebates.

    The Green Loans program offered free audits and zero-interest loans up to $10,000 to help households reduce energy and water use. In July the government said it would be replaced after extensive delays in households receiving their assessments, late payments to home assessors, and preferential treatment to some assessor firms.

    Four independent reviews, including one by the Auditor-General, found public servants in the Environment Department repeatedly broke government procurement rules and failed to keep proper financial records while running Green Loans.

    The $212 million successor, Green Start, was to also offer free household energy audits, along with measures to help people on low incomes reduce power use.

    The opposition environment spokesman, Greg Hunt, said the government had deliberately delayed axing Green Start until after the August federal election to buy votes and dupe assessors.

    ”This was a last-minute decision when it was obvious from the day Green Start was announced it was unworkable,” Mr Hunt said.

    The Greens senator Christine Milne said it would have been a waste of money continuing with the badly designed Green Start program, and a national energy efficiency target was now needed.

    A former assessor from North Sydney, Ralph de la Tour, told the Herald he had spent $8000 on training and insurance to work under Green Loans, but had received very little work. Mr de la Tour said Mr Combet’s $3000 compensation package was ”not enough, but it will help”.

    ”It was a complete waste of time [working under Green Loans] and that is a shame because in essence it was an excellent program, it was just executed terribly,” he said.

    SMH today

    A consensus is now emerging where most sensible people now recognise that dyed-in-the-wool super greenies with at best, a soft science uni degree, make far worse bureaucrats than even the usual stream of those who have traditionally taken up a government job.

    These green ants, most sporting giant chips on their shoulder and/or egos to match, all hell bent on sanctimoniously enforcing their ill-educated but dogmatic world view now thoroughly infest local, State and Federal government right across this nation.

    Sadly, it is going to take a generation or two for them to be superannuated away! OMG, the sheer waste, the sheer cost……!!!!!!

  37. Ian Mott December 22, 2010 at 2:10 pm #

    Thanks, Debbie.
    I will gladly take Taylor’s job, but only if I am allowed to go around slapping politicians and bureaucrats repeatedly across the face, saying, “wake up to your stupid self”. Fat chance?
    I also agree that there is no excuse for failing to capture water in a major flood. There is ample scope for additional turkey nest off-stream storages all along the system. And when all is said and done I have no problem with this story about the SH releases. But it is just one of a number of issues that should have had a lot more air during the week before comment on the MDBA Plan closed.

    Some of you may have detected a bit of personal get square in this thread and you are correct. I had been in discussion with Jen for over a month in respect of an article on river mouth issues but at the very moment when it needed to go, the blog I was hoping to get some traction with was busy cluttering cyberspace with 9 posts in one week on the same piece of third order froth.

    But on this particular issue of SH releases, I am advised by a brother and a brother-in-law who have both spent decades living on and from the Murray, that the land generally slopes away from the river banks and flood widths can get as wide as 70km. And at that width, and at a flow rate of 1 metre/sec, the 40m3/sec of Snowy Hydro release that went to the Murrumbidgee would have added 0.57 of 1 millimetre to the flood height. Halve the flow speed and halve the flood width and we still only have a total of 2.28 millimetres added to a 10 metre flood height.

    But in reality, the narrower the flood width, the faster the flood flow so the two factors cancel each other, leaving this whole issue much ado about sweet FA.

  38. Debbie December 22, 2010 at 6:25 pm #

    That’s another good reason why you should take the job!
    I take your point about timing, it must be frustrating Jennifer as well. A lot of this information would have been very useful before submissions were due.
    We all need to remember that the MDB guide to the plan and the SDL range did not appear until Oct 8th. They had 3 years to put it together and we had a little over 2 months to try and wade through the information and the “science” and come up with our responses. A lot of the information they refer to was also inaccessible unless they were badgered and harrassed. Some of the articles and reports they used are not even published. It was definitely not a level playing field by any stretch of the imagination.
    It is quite ironic that their special friend “Mother Nature” or the “Environment” decided to weigh in on the debate and let them all know exactly what she/it thought of their computer models and their theories about “end of system flows” and “over the bank scenarios”. I wonder if they have worked out yet that Mother Nature is not their special friend, in fact not even a personality at all? “Mother Nature” will dry us out, flood us out, burn us out, blow us up or strike us out whenever and whenever. They can’t possibly do much to assist. What we need to be concentrating on is how to manage the excesses that our variable and unpredictable climate throws at us. Dumping water out of Eucumbene during a year of above average inflows and then still dumping it on a major flood does not fit the bill.
    I also agree that it may be a bit counter-productive to argue over the level that SHL may have contributed to the flood.
    It doesn’t change the fact that there has been an incredible waste occuring and their excuses for it are quite ludicrous in light of the inflows and flooding that have been occuring for some time.

  39. Gravity December 30, 2010 at 11:39 am #


    I am gravity. I am the cause of all your troubles.

    See the diagram of the altitudes of the parts of the Tumut-Eucumbene tunnel.

    Lake Eucumbene is uphill of Tumut. I prevent the water flowing from Tumut to Lake Eucumbene.

    Lake Eucumbene is downhill of Happy Jacks Pondage . I can push the water from Happy Jacks to Eucumbene or Tumut.

    So the water can reverse in the Tumut Eucumbene tunnel, but only in the Happy Jacks to Eucumbene section .. only for water coming from Happy Jacks Pondage… just the small valley in that area.

    Let me know if you want me to change my strength .. I can turn repulsive if you like ??

    Mr Gravity

  40. Polyaulax January 4, 2011 at 6:19 pm #

    Thanks, Mr Gravity. Happy Jacks can divert all the flow[up to spilling of the dam itself] from the upper Tumut and Happy Jacks River back to Eucumbene,once the gate is shut at Tumut Pond.

    But is it possible to have water moving both to Eucumbene AND Tumut,heading in both directions,with sufficient water dropping down Happy Jacks Shaft?

  41. graeme February 24, 2011 at 9:03 am #

    Jennifer you should talk to the local people and fishermen around the gippsland lakes in victoria and ask them how things would change if there was a barage put in there as when you look on a weather map of the lower lakes and the gippsland lakes they look the same.

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