When Revegetation is Not Revegetation

During the recent drought, when the waters of Lake Alexandrina receded, rye grass was sown on the dry lake bed in front of Trevor Harden’s home to stop the soil blowing away. Mr Harden would have preferred the barrages to have been opened, and the lake allowed to reconnect with the sea.

When I first visited Lake Alexandrina, at the bottom of the Murray River, it was during the drought and the so-called Murray mouth had to be kept open by a sand dredge. During my recent visit the lake was full of water, and still more water flowed in at Wellington, and out at Goolwa, out to the Southern Ocean.

According to lake-front resident, Trevor Harden, more than 50,000 megalitres per day has been flowing past his home and down the Goolwa channel to the Southern Ocean since November 2010 – more than 70,000 was flowing past on the day I visited, on March 14, 2011.

The view from Mr Harden’s veranda on that day was of black swans and pelicans sailing past on a broad expanse of brown water. But the screen saver on his computer showed wheel tracks from a quad bike across the dry lake bed. The photograph had been taken at the height of the drought in April 2009.

“During the drought, water levels in the narrow Goolwa channel to the far side were 1 metre below sea level and falling,” explained Mr Harden.

Back then, a remediation program was initiated with lime spread over the exposed acid sulphate soils of the dry lake bed in front of Mr Harden’s home and rye grass planted in an attempt to stabilize the soils.

“The acid soil was exposed and blowing in the wind and onto my new galvanized iron house and in one 24 hour period I had a very visible set of surface corrosion,” said Mr Harden. “Acidic soil doesn’t become a problem until it is exposed to air. The problem could have been averted by opening the barrages and letting some seawater in to mix with the fresh and maintain levels.”

The remediation program did stop some of the soil blowing and a government scientist won awards for his work managing the problem, but it was all unnecessary according to Mr Harden.

“When the water level in Lake Alexandrina fell to sea level, then the barrages should have been opened and tidal pressures used to maintain an estuarine system at sea level until the floods came. Freshwater will always end a drought. At issue was what to do while we waited for the rains.

“In reality, the work of spreading lime and sowing with rye grass to stop the soil from the lake blowing away would have been unnecessary if the barrages had been opened.

“The irony is that all of that remediation was required only because the water level had been allowed to drop lower than it had ever got to before.

“They kept saying we want to revegetate the lake bed,” said Mr Harden. “I said, call it ‘vegetate’ if you must, but not ‘revegetation’, because this lake bed has never had vegetation before. This lake bed has never been allowed to dry out before.”

Read the rest of this story in The Land: http://theland.farmonline.com.au/news/nationalrural/agribusiness-and-general/general/dry-dilemma-opens-barrage-of-questions/2128380.aspx?storypage=0

Read more about the history of the lakes at Quadrant Online: http://www.quadrant.org.au/blogs/doomed-planet/2010/11/jennifer-marohasy


136 Responses to When Revegetation is Not Revegetation

  1. el gordo April 9, 2011 at 10:16 am #

    Informative and well written, so that the average farmer and grazier can understand. Deb and Val take note of the construction, rarely more than two sentences to a par.

  2. Johnathan Wilkes April 9, 2011 at 11:03 am #

    el gordo
    “the average farmer and grazier can understand.”

    Aren’t you just a tad condescending here el?
    I found most farmers quite smart and intelligent to understand matters,
    whether written in neat paragraphs or in spaghetti fashion.

    They would have to be to survive and prosper, far more so than a city dwelling wage earner.

  3. el gordo April 9, 2011 at 11:24 am #

    No offense meant, most are up to speed in this communications revolution, but it’s all about getting across a message in a clear and precise way.

  4. Debbie April 9, 2011 at 1:39 pm #

    Thanks for these timely comments Jen. The biggest problem we all have is that we no longer have enough storage systems to survive a prolonged drought. We certainly didn’t build our systems to assist flooding or to fill up the lower lakes during low inflow years or in a drought. S A needs to take some responsibility here. Their population and their water requirements have grown rapidly in the last 50 years and they’ve not looked at enough local solutions to cater for their growth

  5. val majkus April 9, 2011 at 5:30 pm #

    El Gordo, I think that comment of yours says more about you than it says about the farmers and Debbie and I
    So far as I know Debbie is a farmer
    I disagree about your comments about what ‘the average farmer will understand’
    Is it about the ‘lowest common demoninatator?
    I have no idea what you’re on about
    Sorry, maybe you should come straight to the point
    If you’ve had a previous comment about Debbie and I then point me to it
    Sorry, I don’t have time to read all the comments

  6. val majkus April 9, 2011 at 6:04 pm #

    Top climate scientist needs donations to fight a libel suit by Mann
    see http://johnosullivan.livejournal.com/34877.html
    when Climategate occurred I started to look into the evidence substantiating AGW and non AGW
    And I found Dr Ball’s articles most illuminating
    I’m donating a large amount (for me) and will continue donating
    I do thank the scientists including of course Dr Ball who were not influenced by the money trail
    and they deserve support
    and if you have time read my open letter which was published in quadrant online http://www.quadrant.org.au/blogs/doomed-planet/2010/01/open-letter-on-climate-change

    Warning, this is not for those who demand two letter paras; but for the rest that was the first contact I had with Dr Ball and others who allowed me to use articles which they had written

  7. val majkus April 9, 2011 at 6:35 pm #

    The Intelligent Voter’s Guide to Global Warming (Part II)
    Geoffrey Lehmann, Peter Farrell & Dick Warburton

    very well worth while reading; sorry el gordo more than 2 sentence paras
    (cutting and pasting 3 paras)
    Politics has led to crude sloganeering. Australia’s proposed Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme is a misnomer. It is a scheme to reduce carbon dioxide, not carbon. Carbon in the form of airborne soot is a pollutant. Carbon dioxide is not. Astronauts and nuclear submarine crew breathe an atmosphere with carbon dioxide controlled to or equal to 8000 ppmv, and it comes out in our breath at about 40000 ppmv or over 100 times the current carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere, which is 390 ppmv. Carbon dioxide is a crop nutrient without which we would simply perish. Added at a level of 500 ppmv or more to the atmosphere of greenhouses growing tomatoes, it increases production levels by 15 to 20 per cent.

    Much of the politics of climate science is being driven by the UN and its agency, the IPCC. The IPCC process, with dozens of authors from a number of countries co-operating to produce lengthy assessment reports—there have been four so far—has enforced a team mentality and discouraged dissent. The apparently unstoppable express train for climate action crashed with the UN’s 2009 Copenhagen conference and the Climategate e-mails.

    If AGW is a big problem, one of the main obstacles to a solution is Green opposition to nuclear power. This is a damaging contradiction at the heart of global warming politics. In a recent interview a climate scientist and leading advocate for action against climate change, James Hansen, acknowledged the limits of renewables and endorsed nuclear power as comparable to coal in cost, and recommended fourth-generation nuclear technology as this burns all of the fuel—not just 1 or 2 per cent as with current nuclear reactors—and eliminates the waste problem.

  8. Debbie April 9, 2011 at 7:29 pm #

    That is OK Va. El Gordo is trying to help.
    The mindless twaddle going on in the water debate is almost funny.
    The environment has bounced back in a spectacular fashion.
    None of it had anything to do with any bureacrats or politicans. It was always going to be Mother Nature.
    I would like to drag them all out here and show them.

  9. el gordo April 9, 2011 at 7:51 pm #

    I live on the edge of the MDB and meet farmers and graziers regularly. I’m an average Australian who doesn’t have a clue what Nasif is trying to say.

    On the other hand, Jen’s article is understandable and appeals to a very wide audience, particularly in the bush. It is about communication.

  10. val majkus April 9, 2011 at 8:36 pm #

    Debbie I totally agree that nanny state intervention is useless most of the time; as Tony Abbott says ‘Do no harm’
    I’m not sure but I think the Water Act came into being because of Alarmist Warmist Projections
    Not sure but I remember Flannery being awarded Aust of the Year by Howard – maybe someone else knows the history
    for Flannery’s latest pronostications see this you tube http://blogs.news.com.au/heraldsun/andrewbolt/index.php/heraldsun/comments/flannery_explains_his_vision_for_us_ants/

    And el gordo I too am an average Australian
    And for all of us I hope we hope the interests of the nation at heart
    Now the Govt may have that at heart as well but they’ve got no practical expertise
    Unlike the farmers in the MDB
    Unlike the Port Kembla steelworkers who were told by Greg Combet (and their Union) that life will be wonderful with a ‘carbon’ tax in place
    To me this Govt has lost credibility; and I think even union members are thinking the same notwithstanding what their union says
    In relation to the Port Kembla steelworkers read connolly’s comment (no 13) at http://joannenova.com.au/2011/04/greenpeace-witchhunters-with-280m-dollars-to-spend/#comments
    and in relation to the CMFEU see http://blogs.news.com.au/heraldsun/andrewbolt/index.php/heraldsun/comments/miners_arent_turkeys_voting_for_christmas/
    As Bolt says ‘For some bizarre reason, the leaders of the far-Left CFMEU – a union representing miners – has tried to persuade its members that backing the anti-coal Greens and demanding action to “stop” global warming will make them better off, rather than cost them their jobs’

    anyway this is off topic I know – just having a rant

    Wasn’t Jen speaking today – hope she has time to write a post

  11. val majkus April 9, 2011 at 8:57 pm #

    latest on the anti carbon dioxide tax rally in Blacktown today
    and the one in Brisbane is on 7 May

  12. Peter R. Smith OAM April 9, 2011 at 9:41 pm #

    Hi all,
    Before commenting about S.A’s Lakes and the Barrages please: –
    For those who would like to read the TRUTH!
    Please find below the weblink to the Fresh History of the Lower lakes.
    Look at this and read and then make comment please.
    Peter S.

  13. jennifer April 9, 2011 at 10:07 pm #


    The lakes don’t have a ‘fresh history’.

    And Let’s begin at the beginning…

    Can we agree that the origin of Lakes Albert, Alexandrina and the Coorong is with the sea – when the Southern Ocean burst through flooding between sand dunes? And that this occured between 6,000 and 7,000 years ago.

    Can we agree on that?

  14. John Sayers April 10, 2011 at 7:07 am #

    Peter – don’t you think it would be prudent to mention you position in this debate??

    Peter R. Smith OAM
    Member of the Lower River Murray Drought Reference Group
    Vice President Friends of the River, “Murray Watch”
    Immediate Past South Australian Murray Darling Association Vice President
    One of Al Gore’s and the Australian Conservation Foundation’s “Climate Change Presenters”

  15. Another Ian April 10, 2011 at 7:21 am #

    Re Comment from: John Sayers April 10th, 2011 at 7:07 am

    Does that mean Peter’s graphs end in 2000 like the last of this ilk that I encountered?

  16. Another Ian April 10, 2011 at 8:00 am #


    Off thread, but you might watch for something like this

    “Facebook Treating Skeptic Blog Articles as “Abusive”


  17. Susan April 10, 2011 at 8:08 am #

    I do wish the climate discussions would stay on topic.

    This post is about the Lower Lakes and the fact that the government chose to let the lakes dry down to a dust bowl when they had the option to open the barrages. Then to mitigate the acid sulphate soil problems the government decided to plant sterile grass so that would keep the acid dust from blowing around.

    From my shack I watched them drop the seed from planes, very exciting.

    What we noticed is that the grass grew along the edges of the lake that would have been above the high tide mark. Now normally smothered by freshwater, but there was a marked and visible difference where the main ancient estuary sea floor was and that didn’t grow the ‘re-generated vegetation’ at all.

    This ABC video explains it, and also shows how eager the farmers are to do a land grab.

    The Clayton Regulator was also unnecessary if they had only opened the barrages.

    And Peter, if you really are after the truth. You can look thru Sturts journal yourself online and see that the authors of that booklet you mention have cherry picked the data. It’s here if you care to read it http://freeread.com.au/ebooks/e00059.html#ch2.6 .

  18. Peter R. Smith OAM April 10, 2011 at 9:10 am #

    Hi all,
    For those wishing to know my position in this debate, it really is very simple my colleagues and I wanted to see a freshwater solution for Lakes Alexandrina, Albert and the Coorong and as previously stated by a previous contributor and that has been achieved by intervention by ‘mother nature.’
    My interest is in total economic environmental management of the Murray Darling Basin and I believe the only proper solution must include the River Murray being able to flush into the Southern Ocean.
    I am well aware that Captain Charles Sturt ventured down the River Murray he first found what he believed was a lake full of freshwater but after travelling closer to the River’s mouth found the water was brackish and then saline.
    The cause of this a TIDAL system and before any of you want to pick on me a little more it is well recorded that sea marine life was captured some hundreds of kilometres upstream, a TIDAL system when in times of drought the Murray River was probably totally empty and seawater travelled upstream to sea level.
    Of course we must always acknowledge that the history of the Murray Darling Basin is a history in two parts the natural history and the history of a Basin completely altered by man by the inclusion of Dams, Weirs, Locks and Barrages.
    Jennifer your point, “The lakes don’t have a ‘fresh history’. And let’s begin at the beginning… Can we agree that the origin of Lakes Albert, Alexandrina and the Coorong is with the sea – when the Southern Ocean burst through flooding between sand dunes? And that this occured between 6,000 and 7,000 years ago”.
    The ‘fresh history’ does exist as previously stated when the River was full freshwater it flowed/emptied to the Southern Ocean and in times of drought seawater filled the Southern reaches of the River and Lakes including the Coorong and also considering the Murray Mouth has only been closed three times in recordable history.
    As for the Clayton Regulator and the Bund at Narrung both were un-necessary but one of the reasons for the regulator was the stupid ‘Tour Down Under’ it would have been terrible if overseas visitors saw the state of our Ramsar Icon site because of our totally inept management!
    If people wish to see a return natural River Murray then they need to agree to the removal of all man-made alterations and of course that would render our entire water infrastructure totally useless and the basic right of every human being to potable safe drinking water would be taken way and we would all probably starve.
    To allow seawater to invade the Lower River Murray or worse remove the Barrages would render the Lower River Murray from Blanchetown – Lock 1 – totally non-potable so therefore accept where water is extracted above Lock 1 there would be no irrigation and Adelaide would soon be without a potable water supply.
    Management of the Murray Darling Basin should be above politics it should be for ALL Australians to be heavly involved in all solutions and the only solution to our MDB is a freshwater solution – get over it!

  19. John Sayers April 10, 2011 at 10:25 am #

    I won’t get over anything thank you.

    I appears to me there are two choices.

    1 – cut back on irrigation and the MDB water management to allow the full flush of fresh water required to sustain a fresh water environment in the lower lakes even in times of severe drought.

    2 – remove the barrages and build a weir at Wellington to stop the salt water entering the Murray system and turn the lakes into a saltwater environment and support the inevitable change to alternative businesses. i.e. oyster farming, prawn nurseries, fish farming, recreational fishing, sailing and boating etc. No doubt further moves could be the dredging of the river entrance and opening up to the ocean for a fishing and tourist industry.

  20. John Sayers April 10, 2011 at 10:34 am #

    I might add that a few 10s of kilometres of pipes and a pump at Wellington would enable the existing businesses such as the Langhorne Creek wineries to the west and the dairy industry on the eastern shores to survive.

  21. Susan April 10, 2011 at 11:04 am #

    John, I’ll take option number two please.

    Actually, option number one does not really protect the lakes during drought.

    In the current MDBA draft basin plan, even with the proposed water cuts, the plan does not guarantee that ALL the significant wetland sites can be watered. The Lakes may not be kept full during a drought, and we’ll be back to a dry dust bowl again and aerial seeding the lake bed.

    Here’s a link to the pipeline that has been installed for those irrigators

    And here is a timely article about a Lower Lakes farmer complaining about the prices of water

  22. Debbie April 10, 2011 at 11:17 am #

    The graphs do stop well before the dramatic turnaround in the last 12months. Their projections would now be radically different if they added in the raw data from 2010.
    We all should take a step back and learn the actual lessons that the last 20 years have taught us. Including a proper analysis of those woeful climate projections for the MDB.
    If they want to truly help then we need to cater for the increased demands that a severe drought cycle puts on the system. That should include a frank and open discussion about local solutions in S A shouldn’t it?

  23. Peter R. Smith OAM April 10, 2011 at 12:43 pm #

    Hi John,
    Sorry about my comment – Get over it! – But that is aimed at those not willing to look at all of the options and it is obvious that you are prepared to have a sensible conversation.
    Your No 1: Well we must continue to irrigate or ensure good management of the Basin and this could ensure the Basin continues to serve all Australians. But John it is not just about the fresh water environment for the bottom of the Murray Darling Basin if the River dies it will in the end die completely. We must also be aware some 2-million tonnes of salt that travel down through the MDB and that must be flushed out!
    Your No 2: I don’t believe there is any need to remove the Barrages – the massive cost would be unbelievable – but build a proper ‘Torrumbarry’ style weir near Wellington with a lock chamber and fish passages etc. Information about this proposal which has been sent to all Federal & State politicians, councils & shires in Australia including all major media outlets can be found on my web site http://www.psmithersmyriver.com follow the link to Lock Zero.
    All of my contacts can be found on that site and I am happy to correspond with anybody regarding the proposal or the MDB at any time.
    Also John, there is already a pipeline from near Wellington to the Langhorne Creek wineries, this was completed last year.
    To both Susan & John if a proper lock were to be constructed there would still be no need to let seawater invade the Lakes Alexandrina & Albert or the Coorong (the Southern Lagoon of the Coorong is still hyper-saline it needs to be pumped out) as then sizable amounts of water could be held behind the lock and pulsed through to maintain the environmental needs of the Lakes.

  24. John Sayers April 10, 2011 at 1:10 pm #

    Peter I don’t see where the problem is. The Tweed river is saline to Murwillumbah and a weir at Bray Park keeps the water up stream fresh and the water down stream salt or fresh dependent on the river flow – in times of flood the fresh overflows the weir and the accumulated salt is flushed out as before.

    Rivers don’t die Peter – they only fade away 🙂 (much to the grief of the asian carp!) only to return when the rains come. That won’t happen these days because of our ability to control the flows in the basin through locks and weirs. I see no reason to have a Torrumbarry style weir at Wellington or fish passages as the weir will overflow when the Murray is high and the salt water fish won’t be wanting to enter a fresh water environment and visa v.

    The problem is the lakes are neither fresh or salt. The Wellington weir would decide once and for all what they should be. The Murray upstream from Wellington could well be treated as an inland lake as in times of drought as that is what it would become. Yet the recent rains would flush the Murray over the weir and the fresh water would blend into the salt water lake just as it did in the past.

    I just think that the locals such as yourself (and nearly me at one stage when I considered moving to Milang) could establish a new saltwater community with conviction and certainty. Adelaide would have it’s water supply secured as would the irrigators of the district and the boat harbour at Hindmarsh Island could actually house some serious boats 🙂

  25. Susan April 10, 2011 at 1:21 pm #


    If your logic and assumptions and data were correct, then we would have more of these wonderful barrages around the world providing all kinds of flushing action.

    Funny, how I can’t find another example of this type of land use anywhere else on the planet, although I think the Dutch come close.

    Maybe we should build some barrages across Lakes Entrance Victoria so we can farm there. Or wait, maybe San Francisco Bay would like one so they could farm the Delta? People would not even consider building dams across the middle of an estuary in this day and age. It’s environmentally the wrong thing to do. That’s one reason why I am flabbergasted that the environmentalists don’t even question the existence or purpose of the barrages today.

    Let’s stop pretending that the installation of the barrages was to protect the environment. Instead let’s try and assist the farming families of the Lower Lakes to continue their farms in a more sustainable way. They deserve our support.

  26. Peter R. Smith OAM April 10, 2011 at 1:34 pm #

    Hi John,
    The reason for a ‘Torrumbarry’ like structure is it can when water is plentiful the structure can be fully opened so as the wind seiching can be more effective.
    The ‘Torrumbarry’ option allows for complete closer or completely open and all degrees in between.
    Hi Susan,
    Not estuary TIDAL and what my colleagues and I are seeking is the umpires decision so therefore an Environmental Impact Statement to see if our idea is feasible as a management structure for the entire MDB.

  27. crosspatch April 10, 2011 at 2:03 pm #

    This reminds me of efforts here in the US to maintain river flows in drought years by releasing water in our reservoirs in order to “protect” fish. Yet if the reservoir had not been built, the river would go dry naturally as part of the regular cycle here. In “saving” this wildlife from natural drought stress, they are reducing their drought adaptation. The species need this periodic drought to weed out less drought-adapted individuals.

    They are making changes to the environment in the name of “conservation” that actually destroys the ecosystem they claim to be “saving”.

  28. Debbie April 10, 2011 at 2:24 pm #

    you seem to be missing the major drawback with your freshwater solution.
    The storage systems that are currently available were not built to assist flooding and flushing or to keep fresh water in the lower lakes in a major drought.
    If they get used in this manner then they cant be used for their intended purpose. The only way we can hope to sucessfully achieve both goals is to create more storage so that both goals can be supplied.
    I am not a fan of the freshwater solution but if S A really wants to do it this way then S A needs to work out how to create extra water supplies that does not include taking water away from other established water management practices.
    Bleating about an environmental disaster and the death of the river is not using progressive or possibility thinking.
    Deliberately abusing the lower lakes is also not a good look.
    The politics surrounding this issue is making it hard for the genuinely concerned people to be heard.
    Quite simply, if we truly want more from the system,then we are going to need to set it up so it can provide it.

  29. Debbie April 10, 2011 at 4:32 pm #

    Tidal or estaury? What does that matter? The real debate is fresh or salt isnt it? Or more correctly, fresh when we have excess and a mixture when we dont or a total freshwater solution. Just remember that if you really want a freshwater solution then our current water reserves are incapable of supplying in a drought. S A will need to source the water from somewhere else.

  30. val majkus April 10, 2011 at 4:57 pm #

    Susan you remind me of my great grandmother; so sorry if I have offended your wishes by going off topic
    From my experience on other blogs most commentators have the flexibility to contend with an occasional off topic remark
    You can’t
    How can I tell when you’re coming on so I can keep off
    I’d hate to inflagrate your ire

  31. spangled drongo April 10, 2011 at 5:13 pm #

    The MDB circa Feb 1829 in the vicinity of what is now Bourke:

    “At this point Sturt abandoned all idea of journeys further westward–the water problem had been acute for days. On his return to the camp Sturt moved the whole party (31st January) back to the Bogan to the point where that river turned westward along the course now known as the “dry Bogan”: this course they followed westward, and, leaving this river bed in a general northerly direction, came suddenly, on 2nd February, on the great watercourse of the Darling–a “noble river” the water of which was unhappily salt.”

  32. val majkus April 10, 2011 at 5:30 pm #

    I think it best if I refrained from commenting on Jen’s blog in future; don’t want to upset Susan and el gordo; so I’ll go elsewhere
    I grew up in the outback but ….
    Good luck to everyone and Debbie good luck with the MDB stuff
    Cheers everyone

  33. Debbie April 10, 2011 at 5:57 pm #

    Please stay commenting. We need your level headed perspective.
    Whether we like it or not folks the AGW debate and the carbon tax debate are closely related to this one about the MDB.
    I wish that wasnt true.
    Val and others are correct to remind us and also to point out the connections.
    Remember it is those A G W climate change models that are being used as ammunition for the Federal Govt to muscle in on water management.
    Thats not the only piece of ammunition but it is nevertheless an important part of their arsenal.
    Lets keep discussing the actual issue and try not to make personal comments?.

  34. John Sayers April 10, 2011 at 7:42 pm #

    Get your arse back in here again Val!! no need for a dummy spit!

  35. Susan April 10, 2011 at 8:40 pm #

    It is an honour to be a great grandmother…They are wise women. I would love to have known mine.

    This blog of Jennifer’s has a very specific angle, one that the local media would not publish. It’s a great opportunity to get feedback from this forum on a topic that is key to understanding the issue of the Lower Lakes.

  36. Debbie April 10, 2011 at 9:27 pm #

    I agree Susan. I am also very impressed with your submissions etc on this topic as well as the website you have previously directed us to.
    We are always led to believe that all people from S A think that those lakes should be freshwater and that our current storages should supply the water, even when there is a major drought. It is excellent to hear from people like you.
    We also need to remember however that A G W climate models and high profile people like Tim Flannery and The Wentworth Group are heavily influencing this debate.

  37. el gordo April 10, 2011 at 9:30 pm #

    Too right! We are in the midst of battle.

    At the height of the Holocene around 5000 to 7000 years ago, when temperatures were a few degrees warmer and sea level at the Murray Mouth was 1 meter higher, the Southern Ocean burst through flooding between sand dunes.

    The salt water would have gone a long way up the Murray, with fauna and flora adapting to this new saline environment.

    With so many mouths to feed worldwide the barrages will stay in place, because the fresh water environment behind them is very beneficial. But when the next big drought comes along in a decade or two they would be mad not to open the barrages for the sake of the natural system.

  38. John Sayers April 10, 2011 at 10:45 pm #

    I’m sorry El Gordo but climate change of the type you are describing doesn’t burst through. The fresh water environment isn’t beneficial, have you been there?? the lake is this dirty brown water, I’ve swum in it, don’t open your eyes underwater. There’s no recognisable ecology it doesn’t know whether it’s Arthur or Martha.

  39. Debbie April 10, 2011 at 11:36 pm #

    Sory El Gordo,
    I have to agree with John.
    If the South Australians are serious about having a fresh water environment there they have an incredible amount of work to do.
    It could probably be done, but is it wise?
    Those Lakes are not in a good state and those soils should not have been exposed.
    As Jen and Susan point out, the lakes were abused during the drought for the wrong reasons.
    Crosspatch probably nailed the problem in his comment at April 10th 2.03pm.
    John’s comment about the ecology not knowing whether it’s Arthur or Martha can also be applied to some of the political nonsense that surrounds this issue.

  40. Peter R. Smith OAM April 11, 2011 at 6:37 am #

    Hi Debbie,
    You are 100% right the politics is getting in the way of finding a solution but we must achieve an outcome. Regarding storage, enough should be put aside in Dartmouth, Hume and even Menindee to ensure enough is allowed to flow as to maintain the equilibrium during tough times and yes SA must seek its own solutions ie. Stormwater and potable re-use.
    Tidal or estaury? What does that matter? The real debate is fresh or salt isnt it? No its about ensuring the water in both Lakes is not over saline to prevent the use for stock and stock feed etc.
    Hi El Gordo,
    Yes, but it is not just about feeding people!
    Hi John,
    Yes, the Lakes are dirty brown – and full of harmful elements – that is why the Lakes have to be flushed as 2-million tonnes of salts must be flushed out each year.
    Hi Debbie,
    Yes, “Those Lakes are not in a good state and those soils should not have been exposed” that was bad management
    as only a minimal amount of freshwater was required to avoid what happened and I agree SA has, “an incredible amount of work to do” but unfortunately this State Government has no intestinal fortitude.

  41. el gordo April 11, 2011 at 7:24 am #

    Clearly, I’m out of my depth on this subject, yet thanks to all the comments I’m better informed than anyone I know.

  42. Debbie April 11, 2011 at 8:09 am #

    if you put water aside in Hume and Dartmouth you are using our storage systems for reasons that were not intended.
    As I said before, this problem will need to be addressed locally.
    The population of S A and land use in S A has increased dramatically in the last 50 years.
    This is not a bad thing, but it must be catered for in a manner that does not include taking water resources from established farming practices upstream.
    Our solutions should not be about take. They should be about grow.

  43. Peter R. Smith OAM April 11, 2011 at 8:37 am #

    Hi Debbie,
    Be fair the storages Dartmouth and Hume especially are National Storages constructed to protect water supply in the Basin especially in the River Murray.
    The Lakes Alexandrina and Albert and the Coorong are National RAMSAR sites under the control – oxymoron – of the Federal Minister for the Environment.
    Yes, ‘the population of S A and land use in S A has increased dramatically in the last 50 years’ but be fair since the signing of the cap on extractions was signed in the 1990’s irrigation in the Eastern State has increased by 8% per year at a time SA irrigators have become the most efficient in Australia and a model for much of the World.
    Yes, SA must tighten up and find solutions but as the Lakes are part of the Murray Darling Basin it is also a National issue.
    I can assure you that the NSW, Vic & SA Governments are drawing up an agreement to quarantine SA’s capped amount 1850-Gigalitres in Dartmouth & Hume.

  44. val majkus April 11, 2011 at 12:11 pm #

    I’m back again! Sorry everyone this is cut and paste but it’s from the Business Spectator and you have to be registered to get access (though it is free)
    I’ll be interested to know what Debbie and others with experience of the MDB think;
    anyway here it is:
    http://www.businessspectator.com.au/bs.nsf/Article/water-Murray-Darling-drought-rural-pd20110408-FPVWF?OpenDocument&src=kgb&WELCOME=AUTHENTICATED REMEMBER
    Let’s start the week with some marvellous news. If you are like me, then you want to see the Murray River alive and well. But we also don’t want to see half Australia’s agricultural output savaged by governments buying water rights and land, which will in the end destroy many towns and communities at a time when the global rural sector is booming.

    Over the weekend, I was yarning to David Bryant, managing director of one of our largest agricultural land owners. Rural Funds Management has many properties in the Murray Darling, so Bryant will be clearly affected by any changes, but his solution is so simple and logical that all other ideas need to be matched against it.

    We all blame the long drought for the problem. And while that’s obviously true, the dwindling availability of this precious resource is also a result of a series of actions the states took in the 1930s without understanding the impact they would have in a long drought. In essence if we reverse those actions, use some modern technology, and almost go back to nature we will eliminate most of the problem – drought or no drought.

    In essence the current Murray Darling basin plan requires sending another 2,000GL of water out to sea and 1,000 GL for the internal wetlands. There is no argument about the 1,000GL being required for wetlands.

    But let’s go back to the early part of the last century. At that time salt water entered the river – as it had done for centuries – and created a vibrant Koorong. But the farmers did not like the salt water extending a long way up the river.

    The answer was to convert to fresh water two enormous shallow lakes Lake Alexandrina and Lake Albert—the so called lower lakes. Some 7.6 kilometres of earth and concrete walls were constructed to prevent the Murray behaving like a natural estuary. Bryant says no river in Australia has been damaged in this way.

    It is very easy to return the Murray mouth and surrounding areas to their natural state – an estuary which moves from salt to fresh water. The extension of salt water up the Murray can be limited using modern technology. When we have returned the Murray mouth area in South Australia to its natural state we will stop enormous erosion and we no longer need to buy 2,000GL of water rights to flow out to sea.

    But we still need another 1, 000GL. Right through the drought fresh water was kept in the lower lakes creating enormous evaporation pools.

    The Medindie lakes in New South Wales also evaporated enormous quantities of water.

    There is no longer need to keep fresh water in the lower lakes once they have been returned to their natural estuary state. Engineering is required at Menindee to make it deeper and reduce evaporation. These two moves will save the 1,000GL of fresh water required for the wetlands according to Bryant. There is also a lot that can be done to reduce leakage and evaporation in irrigation channels. There may also be some minor work required to the Murray mouth because of the effects of some of the earlier changes

    We plan to spend billions on water rights and land purchased and we will have to live with enormous social destruction in towns which may require compensation. The Bryant plan will cost nothing like that. He believes it solves the problem without massive outlays and the destruction of towns.

    I am not an expert on this and I am relying on David Bryant. But just as the Grattan Institute found Canberra could not work out how to reduce carbon, there is every likelihood they have no idea how to solve the Murray problem.

    However with the community coming up with ideas like this, I am excited.

  45. Debbie April 11, 2011 at 2:53 pm #

    Good to see you haven’t deserted Val!
    I like what you have posted because it actually views water management the way most irrigation farmers would:
    a) Figure out your goals and what you are trying to achieve with your water
    b) Figure out a watering plan and a watering program and how you can get the best use out of the smallest volume and, as a last step:
    c) Source the water to achieve the goal via the plan!

    What we shouldn’t do is
    a) Have unspecified goals about end of system flows
    b) Have no plan except to flush unspecified amounts of water for unspecified outcomes
    c) Demand water that is being used for other clear and specified purposes to achieve your unspecified goals via your unspecified plan.

    Does that second approach sound familiar?

    As I said before, I am not a fan of the freshwater solution for the Lakes. However I don’t live by the lakes and their make up does not (or at least it shouldn’t) interfere in my livelihood.
    Personally I don’t think it is wise to do it that way because other solutions use less water and cause way less stress on the entire system. In the end it should be up to SA.
    If SA truly want to do it this way then they must come up with a sensible plan (that is better than the one you have posted here) and does not include demanding over 2,000,000ML/YR extra from a system that could only provide it if it took water from other established, well managed and well planned irrigation practices.
    Peter, please do not take offense. I realise that your organisation is attempting to put together some sensible planning. I don’t believe yours is the best plan, but I recognise your right to have a say in this debate.
    I am taking aim at the absolutely woeful political process that has been the Water Act and the MDBP.
    Standing right next to them are some very ordinary State policies that are not able to recognise that our MDB is highly unpredictable. They are also failing to recognise that during a dry inflow cycle, we do not have enough to store and flush because we have all put more demands on the system. We have not catered for those extra demands. SA is high on that list.

  46. Peter R. Smith OAM April 11, 2011 at 4:42 pm #

    Hi Val,
    I’m glad you haven’t deserted as we need as many persons as possible in this debate. I have great respect for David Bryant but it is obvious he doesn’t own or manage land below Lock 1 at Blanchetown. The drought was catastrophic but would have been far worse accept for the, ‘series of actions the states took in the 1930s’ as was shown in droughts early in the 1900’s as Mum used to say she walked across the River Murray at Murray Bridge in the years of the worse drought.
    Whilst the TIDAL system did send seawater upstream in times of low flow the Coorong was never as hyper=saline as it is not especially the Southern Lagoon!
    The River Murray is in the 10 most degraded Rivers in the World and it is also one of the most highly regulated, not good!
    As I have stated you can’t just make the mouth of the river as it was naturally because the rest of the river is over regulated and remember there is in access of 2-million tonnes of salt moving down the River Murray per year and to be able to flush that amount a great deal of water is required. Without the Barrages the Lakes especially Alexandrina would in a few short years of low flow become hyper-saline.
    Whilst a great deal evaporates from Lakes Alexandrina and Albert because of there inefficiency it is a proven fact the evaporation from Menindee Lakes is 43% higher and it is good there are going to be some engineering changes, but when?
    Removing the Barrages mean a Lock/Weir must be built near Wellington or the Lower Murray ie River Murray below Blanchetown will become non-potable ie saline of no use and SA’s water supply will be unusable.
    Hi Debbie,
    We certainly need to, ‘Figure out a watering plan and a watering program and how you can get the best use out of the smallest volume’ and ‘Source the water to achieve the goal via the plan.’ These points area given but we have not got any politicians either at Federal or State level to achieve this.
    Whilst I am some distance upstream from the Lakes we are passionate about a ‘freshwater solution’ and I agree it should not, ‘interfere in my livelihood’ but all in the Basin must feel some pain if we are going to bring in the correct management regime.
    I take no offense Val we are all in this together and I am more than often at odds with our Federal & State Politicians and the Management of the Murray Darling Association of wcich I am the immediate past SA Vice-President.

  47. val majkus April 11, 2011 at 5:06 pm #

    Peter I have read other comments of yours and in relation to what you say in your previous comment ‘As I have stated you can’t just make the mouth of the river as it was naturally because the rest of the river is over regulated and remember there is in access of 2-million tonnes of salt moving down the River Murray per year and to be able to flush that amount a great deal of water is required.’
    Where do you get that salt figure from?

  48. Debbie April 11, 2011 at 5:22 pm #

    Can you reference your claims about salt?
    I think you may find that many of the past issues with salt have been improved with some good management strategies.
    I accept there are still some major problems down the SA end of the system but I doubt extra flushing will solve the salt issue. You would probably be aware that much of that salt gets raised by the river itself. That also ocurred before our systems were regulated.

    Interestingly, the next wild cards will be about salt and algae because flooding (which is also flushing) actually releases and produces both.

    I would also suggest you check your statement about ‘the 10 most degraded rivers in the world’. This statement would have to be qualified and you would need to judge it against acceptable criteria. The Murray is only a ‘Mighty Murray River” when our climate patterns deem it shall be so. Without our regulatory systems the so called ‘Mighty Murray’ was just as often disconnected, stagnant, salty, swampy puddles.
    So what is the actual definition of a degraded river?
    I believe that we have mostly improved its capabilities both environmentally and economically through regulation. It hasn’t been a perfect run, but it is definitely better than before.

    I also question your assumption that ‘all in the basin must feel some pain if we are going to bring in the correct management regime’. Why is that a good place to begin Peter?
    I don’t believe that at all.
    As you point out, the system, especially the lower MDB, is already highly regulated. I also agree that we can’t return everything to nature.
    That would just be silly.
    The whole point behind regulating the system was so we could live and work and prosper, despite our highly variable climate.
    So what’s wrong with using smart engineering and regulating solutions to make sure that we can all prosper in the future?
    We can learn from past mistakes and improve outcomes for everyone, including the environment, can’t we?
    I certainly think that would be a far more successful mindset, don’t you?

  49. Peter R. Smith OAM April 11, 2011 at 5:23 pm #

    Hi Val,
    The 2-million tonnes of salt per year is the amount arrived at by the SA Department for water and is the figure always mentioned at meetings I attend in relation to the MDB & the River Murray.

  50. Susan April 11, 2011 at 5:57 pm #

    I think it’s a really good idea to keep looking back at some facts.

    The Lower Lakes when full hold 2015 GL of water. This is water in storage that is not used to supply SA water needs. Only local farmers can access this water.

    The Lakes evaporate some each year and collect some natural local rain each year for a net of about -500 GL.

    Then there is the ‘flushing’ of salt and pollutants requirement, as well as transport water, and the water that evaporates as it makes it’s way down to the lakes, etc. Add another 1000 GL. And you have a requirement for water of 2500 GL every year to keep the lakes full and ‘fresh’. Some scientists say more is required.

    In 2009 there was at one point only 1850 GL in the entire MDB. The lakes were -1 m below sealevel. Farmers could not access the local lake water for stock, boating was severely limited, and acid sulfate soil problems were occurring because there was not enough water for the Lakes. Any plan that does not include using seawater cannot guarantee that the lakes won’t dry out again in a long term drought.

    That’s what this article is about. The state of SA insisted on a freshwater solution to the detriment of the lakes and would not open the barrages to at least cover the dry lakebed.

    Estuaries are a mix of fresh and salt water, they are not entirely marine like Mr. Bryant seems to indicate. They are one of the most prolific of ecosystems and provide breeding grounds for fish like Mulloway and Congolli.

    Take a look at the map below and look at it in ‘satellite’ mode. The map has been marked up showing the location of the barrages, the vast size of the ‘lakes’, and the location of Wellington where the River Murray meets Lake Alexandrina. Then find the Murray Mouth on the coast. Look at how thin and narrow an ‘estuary’ we have been left with. Only the sliver of The Coorong is considered ‘estuarine’. That’s it. Just a sliver.


  51. val majkus April 11, 2011 at 5:59 pm #

    Peter can you give us a link to a scientific paper?

  52. val majkus April 11, 2011 at 6:22 pm #

    want to donate to another Monckton tour?
    I’m donating

  53. Peter R. Smith OAM April 12, 2011 at 9:06 am #

    Hi Val,
    I have just spoken to a colleague who just happens to be in Darwin fishing and he informs me the discharge of salts measurement (salt balance) through the Murray Mouth is 2-million tonnes and that figure is from the Murray Darling Basin – Guide to the proposed Basin plan.
    I will look at my copy of the Plan later today and seek the proper chapter and then forward that. If I can not find it I will, at a meeting of the Lower River Murray Advisory Group to be held on Thursday, seek the right references.

  54. Debbie April 12, 2011 at 9:32 am #

    Well said and well explained.
    It is an interesting point about how much of that water is accessible and also how much of the environment down there is actually the Murray Mouth or estaurine (or tidal if Peter prefers).
    I had a very interesting article sent me this morning written by a gentleman with vast experience in water management matters.


    My greatest problem with most of this debate is that the thinking behind it is all about everyone trying to take water from someone else.

    If we all got our mindset away from there and started to recognise the REAL issues that have been faced by the REAL MDB in the last 20+ years we may actually come up with some excellent solutions.
    Peter, you along with everyone else need to stop using words and phrases like ‘degraded’ ‘millions of tons of salt have to be flushed out the mouth’, ‘we have to put water aside’, ‘return water to the environment’ ‘we have to have pain to get it right’ and so on.
    That thinking is ‘small minded’ and will not encourage smart solutions.
    That type of language just makes people aggressive.
    The fresh mixed with salt solution for the lower lakes is a good solution for saving water as well as preventing the exposure of those acid sulphate soils. A good plan with this in mind would also provide for plentiful potable water for people who rely on fresh water in that area.

    If you truly want to have those lakes 100% fresh then you need to come up with a better plan than this one. That plan also needs to recognise that you should not take water from well established uses upstream.

    We also need to accept the REALITY that the current Murray Darling system cannot store enough secure water supplies to meet normal yearly demands and store large excess supplies to cover an extended drought period.

    In REALITY water recovered for the environment will become another ‘water user’ competing for storage space in MDB dams.

    There are many benefits to a regulated water supply.
    We need to look at creating more!

    I am not criticising SA for their growth. Peter is correct when he points out that Vic and NSW have grown and put greater pressure on the system as well.

    That’s REALITY!. Our storage and regulatory systems have reached their ‘use by date’. They are in serious need of upgrading and expansion. If we don’t do that, then we can’t continue to grow and prosper. We also won’t be able to adequately care for the environment.

  55. Debbie April 12, 2011 at 9:36 am #

    please read my comments April 11 2.05pm
    Your comments about flushing salt need to be explained re how the river works and what actually causes excess salt.

  56. Debbie April 12, 2011 at 9:44 am #

    The information in the guide to the MDBP re salt is OLD information! It is not correct and not substantiated with current data!

  57. Peter R. Smith OAM April 12, 2011 at 10:55 am #

    Hi Susan,
    Thank you for the link to that interesting article which I have included in my ‘Snippetts Plus’ a collation of articles about water sourced from many sources and sent out each couple of days, if anyone reading this wants my ‘Snippetts Plus’ my contacts are on my http://www.psmithersmyriver.com I don’t have a blog page as I am not that computer literate.
    Yes, you are correct, ‘about everyone trying to take water from someone else’ which is not what it is all about and in my opinion is un-Australian.
    I am sorry you object to some of my words & phrases but we must flush the Basin of those elements that are causing problems.
    Covering acid sulphate soils is essential and freshwater is far better than saltwater and also potable supply must be maintained for those communities (potable water is a right) but if seawater is to be allowed to invade Lakes Alexandrina and Albert we must build a barrier so that seawater will not contaminate the River Murray all the way to Lock 1 at Blanchetown as if that occurred SA’s major water supply would be un-potable and we would render as useless all water extracted between Wellington and Blanchetown.
    True, the MDB cannot secure all of our water needs in times of low rainfall and we must look at alternate sources, therefore we must do the required scientific research so as we can re-use stormwater, grey and black water, it is done in so many countries around the World why not Australia.
    I will support the building of new storages but as the article points out where and the displacement of so many persons is a problem. One other point is our stupid political leaders have allowed especially in SA the building of houses on some of the best market garden land in the state so as the cities grow we have less good land for food production and not even thought about where the water will come from.
    At a meeting about ten years ago ‘water proofing Adelaide’ the senior public servants commented that the best and cheapest place to source water is the River Murray – where can we go with that sort of intelligence advising our elected leaders?
    Hi Debbie,
    I read those comments some interesting points for discussion. I agree, ‘Your comments about flushing salt need to be explained re how the river works and what actually causes excess salt’ the rivers, streams etc are in reality drains and the salt (the terminology for all unwanted elements not just salt) which must be removed. The salt is caused, much of it anyway, for inflows over our arid land gathering the salt which is leached out of the soil by the sun. Most of the other elements are man made from chemicals used in the practise of growing food stuffs etc. That is a simple explanation!
    Yes, ‘The information in the guide to the MDBP re salt is OLD information! It is not correct and not substantiated with current data!’ I shall seek the links to the upgraded information but a massive amount of build up must be flushed!

  58. Debbie April 12, 2011 at 4:42 pm #

    If those barrages remain and we’re not smarter with the management of our ‘drains’ no amount of flushing will help.
    The MDB has just had the biggest ‘flush’ in over 20 years and history has taught us that this will create more salt and toxin problems….not less.
    Flushing is not the answer to this particular problem and it never was.
    Also, I would also like you to explain your statement that the Murray river is in the top 10 of degraded rivers.
    Please go back to my comments re The Murray @ April 11th 2.05 pm.
    You need to explain what the definition of a degraded river actually is.
    I think that you may also be incorrect about this as well.
    It does not help us to find good solutions when negative and unsubstantiated statements like that are made.

  59. val majkus April 12, 2011 at 5:35 pm #

    I’m a bit confused in relation to my question about salinity:
    I had a quick look at this (my question about salinity) today and this is from the MDB Plan (at page Volume 1 (Guide to the proposed Basin Plan: Overview) has been prepared by the
    Murray–Darling Basin Authority for public consultation purposes, using the best
    efforts to ensure that the material it presents is current and accurate. The opinions,
    comments and analysis (including those of third parties) expressed in this document
    are for consultation purposes only. There are a further 20 volumes that are being
    prepared by the Chief Executive of the Murray–Darling Basin Authority to further
    inform public discussion about the proposed Basin Plan. To the extent that there is a
    material inconsistency between this document and other volumes of the Guide to the
    proposed Basin Plan, then the policy intent in this document prevails (at p iv).
    This document does not indicate the Murray–Darling Basin Authority’s commitment
    to undertake or implement a particular course of action, and should not be relied on
    in relation to any particular action or decision taken in respect of the proposed Basin
    Plan. Users should note that developments in Commonwealth policy, input from
    consultation and other circumstances may result in changes to the approaches set out
    in this document.
    Descriptive information about the Basin, regions within it, and their history
    and development has been collated primarily from previously published sources.
    The Murray–Darling Basin Authority makes no warranty as to the accuracy or
    completeness of this information. Material in this volume is based on the latest
    information available at the time of writing.”

    the scientific documents I’ve been able to find about salinity rely on remote imaging and in the MDB Plan rely on projections; does that mean if a satellite picks up a bare area (such as a claypan) then that’s automatically the result of salinity and the computer modelling indicates the result of that increased salinity if not addressed)

    I don[‘t know but in my research the result of computer projections is inaccuracy

    Just asking ….

  60. Susan April 12, 2011 at 5:42 pm #

    Interesting article Debbie. I’ve added it to our media page http://www.lakesneedwater.org/media where I’ve kept a list going back to 2009 of media articles about the Lower Lakes.

    Peter. I think you got Debbie and myself mixed up in the last post.

    And, I’ll go out on a limb here and ask, “how can something be tidal that does not envolve the sea”. It would be nice to have a link that explains that one.

  61. Susan April 12, 2011 at 6:04 pm #


    If you have not already done so, you may be interested in this report by the SA Government in your search for the salt explanation and SA’s view on it. The department has changed names a few times, but this is the main report that reflects SA’s view on managing the Lower Lakes and Coorong.


    This report took years to develop and required several rounds of submissions on the draft versions.

  62. val majkus April 12, 2011 at 6:31 pm #

    Susan I’ve looked at that thank you
    But what I want to know is where’s the evidence about the excess salinity to which the MDBP refer numerous times

    If that evidence depends on computer projections (and the MDBP) refers to projections as such and I’m assuming they’re computer based and I must say that computer projections have been proven wrong time and time again
    have a look at this post for example
    (why after reading that would we say that computer projections have any accuracy at all)
    Just asking

  63. Debbie April 12, 2011 at 7:04 pm #

    They don’t!
    They have used old figures and supported them with satellite photos etc from the drought.
    Topher explains how badly the salt figures were fudged in his video. (along with other highly questionable graphs and stats that have been used in that Draft.)
    Jennifer also posted this video on her blog late February (I think?)
    We have a much bigger salt and toxin problem right now because the river has been flushed (or flooded) don’t we Peter?
    Flushing or flooding makes salt and toxin problems worse, especially in SA.

  64. John Sayers April 12, 2011 at 9:15 pm #

    Yes Debbie they do


  65. val majkus April 12, 2011 at 9:38 pm #

    Debbie thanks for that link; I’ll have a look at it tomorrow
    John in relation to your link that article states that Black water occurs when water flows out on to floodplains stimulating the rapid bacterial breakdown of leaf litter, which in turn depletes the water of oxygen
    I recall in the photos that Jen posted there was a creek flooded in one photo and the water was black
    I was wondering how that occurred, in my experience what makes river water black is stagnation, shallowness and gum leaves and when a flood or flush occurs that blackness disappears quickly with the water flow; but in the photo that Jen took there was a flooded creek in the background and the water was black
    I wondered when I saw that photo whether keeping wetlands wet exacerbated or caused the black water in that photo

  66. Peter R. Smith OAM April 13, 2011 at 9:17 am #

    Hi Debbie,
    If the Barrages remain you believe I believe that is the right management regime because unless a weir/lock is constructed near Wellington SA’s potable water is doomed.
    Thanks Debbie, I don’t believe I have printed incorrect information. In are publication a couple years about the World’s greatest river, most degraded and most over regulated the River Murray made the top ten in all those categories.
    Hi Val,
    I am seeking more up to date information and the links to same!
    Hi Susan,
    I am sorry if I got yourself and Debbie mixed up. Regarding the Lakes being tidal, the point I am making is that the Lower reaches of the River Murray the Lakes were subject to tidal movement when the flow was low but were never estuarine as much of the past history (prior to the Locks and Barrages) that area was freshwater.
    Hi Debbie,
    Yes, ‘Flushing or flooding makes salt and toxin problems worse, especially in SA’ especially flooding or high inflows but the problem must be solved and if there is a better way than flushing out the river mouth we need to investigate.
    Salt interception schemes are successful but they also pump massive amounts of water into salt contaminated retention low land and of course this will over time find its way back into the river.
    Hi Val,
    The terminology black water is used in two different scenarios 1) Black water is sewerage, 2) Black water the term used to explain water that has been laying in ‘mainly’ eucalypt forests and the water turns black because of the tannins from leaf matter.

  67. Debbie April 13, 2011 at 10:46 am #

    But Peter,
    The river that Tim Flannery lives on is much more ‘degraded’ and interefered with than the Murray.
    Is that one on the top10 list?
    That river is the one river in Australia that is almost beyond redemption.
    If you are truly interested I can give you a reference and studies.

    Maybe in the ‘publication’ that you haven’t referenced, they have mixed up their definitions of ‘degraded’ with ‘regulated’?
    Just because it was printed in some publication does not mean it is correct.
    If there is not a clear definiton of degraded, the statement is just pure nonsense.
    For the most part (not all) regulation has improved outcomes for the Murray River.

    You also must have misunderstood my point about salinity in SA.
    EVERY WAY repeat EVERY WAY would be better than flushing with fresh water down our rivers (or drains as you call them) !
    Flushing most definitely makes it worse for SA. The Murray mouth is not big enough. The barrages and SA’s wish to have permanent freshwater in those lakes just makes it worse.
    Go back to the ’56 figures, which is the biggest flood or flush we have recorded, and check what happened at the Mouth.
    During the 1956 floods the Lower Lakes rose by 850ml, not by restriction of the barrages but by the reduced Murray mouth opening which did scour, but didn’t scour wide enough to release sufficient flows (i.e. the massive 1956 flood was unable to remove the accumulated sediments and toxins through the Murray mouth).
    The estimated flow in the River for this current flood was 326,000ML/day and did have a significant effect on the widening of the mouth but was obviously helped by manmade intervention with dredging. It still was unable to remove the increasingly dangerous build up sediments, salts and toxins.
    (Pretty obvious then that freshwater river flows at 1956 flow rates aren’t feasible and wouldn’t do the job of keeping the mouth fully open anyway and certainly wouldn’t help to ‘flush’ out sediments, salts and toxins.)
    So why is the MDBA persevering with a freshwater solution?
    Why are you?
    There is no credible evidence anywhere that suggests that ‘flushing or flooding’ achieves a good outcome re salt and toxins, especially for SA which (unfortunately for SA) is at the bottom of the drain.
    All the evidence points to the exact opposite result.
    There is however highly credible evidence that a salt water in dry years and fresh water in wet years using tidal pressures would definitely achieve some better results.
    You are correct that we must plan for potable water for communities already established in SA.
    But SA needs to get over their ‘flush’ solution.
    It won’t work and the system can’t possibly supply enough to do it anyway!
    Hopefully you understood the point about ‘flushing or flooding’ re salt and toxins this time?

  68. val majkus April 13, 2011 at 10:52 am #

    Thanks Debbie, yes, I had seen that video before and I liked the way he looked for references

  69. Peter R. Smith OAM April 13, 2011 at 1:14 pm #

    Hi Debbie,
    I regret that the reference I referred to was from an article I cut and pasted into my ‘Snippetts Plus’ which can be found on my web site and it is among about a thousand pages so when I have the time I shall try to find it, though the degradation referred to was arrived at because (if my memory serves me correctly) of the amount of extractions. The River Murray was also listed as one of the most regulated though I agree, ‘For the most part (not all) regulation has improved outcomes for the Murray River’ but it has had a catastrophic affect on the Lower River Murray especially downstream of Wellington.
    ‘EVERY WAY repeat EVERY WAY would be better than flushing with fresh water down our rivers (or drains as you call them)!’ I have always believed that rivers must flow out of there mouths and the Colorado is a prime example. The Murray Mouth is a problem and has moved a fair distance over the last 1000’s of years but irrespective of that it must remain open and if dredging is the only method to achieve this, so be it!
    I was living on the River at Murray Bridge during most of the 1956 flood and you are correct the mouth did open right up as could have been expected.
    But let’s be completely honest without the regulators, or to put it another way, if it had been a naturally flowing river the mouth would most definitely been blown open by the amount of flow! We cannot have it both ways our man made regulators which enable us to use as water as we do also have a massive effect during times of maximum flow. 1956 – 340 gigalitres a day, 1972 -174 gigalitres a day, 1992/4 – 92-gigalitres a day and the average highest day flow into SA this year 95/6 – gigalitres a day.
    I don’t know the answer, I have many ideas, but I don’t want to see the communities around both Lakes Alexandrina and Albert be totally disadvantaged by the changes. These people suffered more than any other communities in the Basin at the height of the drought and they must be fully considered and consulted prior to any major changes.
    If I am prepared to not keep pushing a freshwater solution can you please tell me how by returning to a tidal system will protect all water uses from Wellington to Lock 1 at Blanchetown there are billions of dollars of infrastructure that rely on freshwater.

  70. Debbie April 13, 2011 at 2:59 pm #

    I believe Jennifer and Susan are much better qualified to answer this question than I am:

    If I am prepared to not keep pushing a freshwater solution can you please tell me how by returning to a tidal system will protect all water uses from Wellington to Lock 1 at Blanchetown there are billions of dollars of infrastructure that rely on freshwater?

    I also believe that Susan has tried to answer it at least 3 times at this post.

    I don’t think we can qualify who suffered any more than whom during the drought.
    It would not be possible to ever figure out who copped it the worst.
    I think it’s much safer to agree that nearly everyone suffered, including communities up and down all the streams and tributaries as well as those on the rivers who first of all suffered through ten years of drought and then lost everything in sudden and devastating floods.
    You need to maybe widen your focus just a little there mate.
    I am definitely not saying it wasn’t tough by those Lakes. I’m just saying we all did it tough!
    I don’t agree that anyone, including yourself, can make a value judgement about who or what was the hardest hit.

    Also, I have to still take you to task over the top 10 most degraded comment. We can categorically prove that the river that Tim Flannery lives on is far more degraded than the Murray River. Plenty of references if you would like them?
    Is that one on the top 10 list?
    From your further explanation, although still not referenced, I’m pretty sure the authors of that comment have mixed up their definition of ‘degraded’ and ‘regulated’.
    Might be better if you stopped saying it.
    It isn’t true Peter.
    It also isn’t a helpful comment if we want people to start agreeing that we need some better ideas.
    No argument about the seawater freshwater thing. I’m not sure why you wrote it in bold?

  71. Peter R. Smith OAM April 13, 2011 at 3:18 pm #

    Hi Debbie,
    I did point out that I when time permits look my editions of ‘Snippetts Plus’ to source the authors of that information. Returning to a tidal system ie, no Barrages will not protect the water users from Wellington to Blanchetown that is why I am totally against seawater intrusion. I don’t agree Susan has the answer because nothing other than another regulator will stop the seawater contamination, that’s why I wrote in bold.
    Professor Mike Young in numerous interviews on both Radio and TV has made the comment that he believes the area around the Lakes was the most affected! What River does Flannery live on?
    Not only do we want people to agree but start putting forward their suggestions to our elected members both State and Federal.

  72. John Sayers April 13, 2011 at 4:34 pm #

    Flannery lives on the Hawkesbury River Peter.

    If a weir is built at Wellington how will the lakes being salt affect the users upstream from Wellington? Surely they will benefit by having uncontaminated fresh water.

  73. John Sayers April 13, 2011 at 4:36 pm #

    Plus they will benefit form not having to supply 2000GL to stop the lakes form drying up and exposing the acid sultanate soils.

  74. John Sayers April 13, 2011 at 4:36 pm #

    woops – spellchecker won 🙂

  75. Debbie April 13, 2011 at 5:34 pm #

    Thanks John,
    I couldn’t resist doing it that way 🙂 (my bad)

    So Peter,
    Is the Hawkesbury river on that top 10 list?
    If it isn’t I would have to ask why?
    If the Murray is, then the Hawkesbury definitely should be….higher up on that list too!
    How about you ask the guys who wrote the 1000 page book? I hope Mr Flannery isn’t one of the authors or contributors is he?
    Do you really believe Professor Mike Young has any special personal knowledge of who would have been most affected? Most affected how?
    How could anyone argue that one and expect to have agreement?
    I think we all did it tough for all sorts of different reasons don’t you?
    Mike Young would have no more idea than I do who was the most affected by the drought.
    That is a completely unsubstantiated and inflagatory statement.
    Guarranteed to set State against State wouldn’t you think?
    That would be the case if enough people kept repeating it.
    How about we all come up with a solution for the people below Wellington that doesn’t involve approx 2,000,000ML being taken from other established farming practices?
    Have you any concept how much water that actually is and how much it is capable of producing?
    What’s more, if the inflows are low, we can’t supply it from upstream. That’s more than one of the dams can hold when it’s full. They won’t be full when the inflows are low.

    Some common sense would be rather handy don’t you think Peter?
    I totally agree it isn’t coming from the politicians.
    I’m sorry to inform you that it also isn’t coming from the authors of your 1000 page book nor Mike Young.
    One last question Peter, and I’m sorry that I seem to be overly aggressive. I think you’re a nice bloke from what I can see on your website and from your posts. I’m disappointed that you are repeating usubstantiated statements.
    How much water (in megalitres please) will your personal enterprise or your personal business or your personal farming operation have to give up or, be denied access to, for you to achieve your fresh water solution?

  76. Susan April 13, 2011 at 7:34 pm #

    In SA it has been extremely difficult to understand just what the real issues are. People passionate about where they live are wanting to believe in something that will make things better. Most people don’t have countless hours to study the issue, and the local media only has one thing to say… overallocation. That’s why the lakesneedwater website got started, to inform.

    State funded agencies and experts either can’t or won’t say what needs to be said. And all people really want to believe is that it’ll be right. It was heartbreaking during the drought, and people around the lakes probably won’t forget it and want someone to blame. That’s not to say it was not also just as heartbreaking upriver. Those stories didn’t get media air time down here.

    Imagine the property rights issues when you take away the right to fresh water. What will that cost? There are several canal style housing estates and blocks of land dependent on having a certain level of water as advertised. There is still a dairying industry left after many quit the area. What do you do with them?

    And then throw all this into a political environment of a state election, and just who will take the political risk to change the status quo? Not one single politician in SA would say anything other than the freshwater future policy.

    So, it would seem that a weir near Wellington is a must to protect the 250 km of river up to Blanchetown, (the longest stretch of river without weirs) and opening the barrages to develop an estuary is the only way it’s going to work. I’ve read that it only takes 50GL of water to keep the river full between Blanchetown and Wellington, if we had a weir at Wellington.

    And I do believe Peter that you cannot have tidal without sea. Google ‘estuaries’, there’s several types and they all involve a mix with seawater, ie. the sea. You can’t have tidal with freshwater.

    And I would also like to comment that I’ve not seen any commitment or comment from an ‘irrigator’ type person, volunteering to send fresh water to an ‘estuary’. I’m beginning to think that ‘estuary’ to an upstream irrigator means ‘marine’. That’s not what the lakes have ever been, they’ve been estuaries all along.

    Why can’t just one ‘expert’ calculate how much water it takes flowing over a weir at Wellington to water an estuary and what those cost savings in freshwater might be? How hard is that?!

  77. Peter R. Smith OAM April 13, 2011 at 8:12 pm #

    Hi John,
    Good to hear from you again. Thank you I did not know where Flannery lived. Yes. A weir at Wellington will solve the problem – a Torrumbarry style – and my colleagues and I have been seeking an Environmental Impact Statement on the construction of such a regulator for a number of years, to no avail.
    The only foreseeable problem is that if fully open the wind seiching will mix the saline water downstream of the regulator with fresh water upstream.
    Hi Debbie,
    It is not a 1000 page book but ‘Snippetts Plus’ which is compiled by me by cutting and pasting information daily from around Australia and the World about water which I email out to over 2500 people each time it reaches 10 pages.
    I have known Professor Mike Young for many years and yes I believe he qualified to much such a judgement!
    I am not in any trying to set State against State but speaking to people across the MDB it seems always to be the powerful Eastern States against SA!
    Yes, I have on many occasions looked at how much water it takes to produce different crops and have over many years spent much of my meagre income traveling around the Basin and attending countless forums/seminars/conferences in many States.
    In reply to, ‘How much water (in megalitres please) will your personal enterprise or your personal business or your personal farming operation have to give up or, be denied access to, for you to achieve your fresh water solution?’
    None, I have been retired since 1994 and my house is totally self reliant with our own water tanks which are full for the first time this decade.
    The inflows into SA over the last 60 years are as follows: –
    Our long (60-year average) term average has been 8,435-Gigalitres,
    The average over the last decade of the 21st century, 9,800-Gigalitres,
    The first 5-years of this century 4,800-Gigalitres,
    Then South Australia’s entitlement flow 1850-Gigalitres.
    When Tim Flannery brought the Adelaide Museum road show to Mannum some years ago in discussion with the scientists they believed SA needed a minimum of 4,800 to 5,000-gigalitres per year flowing into SA for the River Murray in SA and the Lakes Alexandrina and Albert including the Coorong to remain healthy.

  78. John Sayers April 13, 2011 at 8:28 pm #

    What amazes me is the lack of interest within the local community in the possibilities of a saltwater environment for the region. Open up the Murray mouth – make it so boats can enter and leave the area – deep sea fishing tours in our beautiful southern waters comes to mind.

  79. Peter R. Smith OAM April 13, 2011 at 9:31 pm #

    Hi Susan,
    I’m on your side and it’s been tough for people who live in the area around Lakes Alexandrina, Albert and near the Coorong (the Southern Lagoon is still hyper-saline) and I realise it has been awful throughout the Basin but we are all in this together. The amount of businesses that have been lost around the Lakes and all the way to Blanchetown is staggering. A huge amount of people have moved and property costs have crashed and if the Lakes became seawater the exodus would continue and as for the already decimated dairy industry it would be finished.
    Susan, my point about tidal is the Lakes were never estuarine but tidal and I DON”T want to see that happen but if we built a weir/lock at Wellington I would fight to stop the Barrages either being opened to admit seawater or removed I am a peaceful person, I’ve seen enough violence and killing but I will fight.
    A regulator at Wellington could pulse freshwater into the Lakes when available or when required, we can have the best of both!
    Hi John,
    It would be neigh impossible to facilitate a seawater boat entrance into the Lakes except for 25-hour a day major dredging of mammoth proportion.

  80. John Sayers April 13, 2011 at 10:56 pm #

    No it wouldn’t Peter – it’s just a matter of willpower. Engineers could easily design you a new forefront.

  81. Debbie April 13, 2011 at 10:56 pm #

    Thanks Susan,
    You are right. The drought has been tough on everyone.
    I think you would find that upstream irrigator types would be willing to engage if they understood what is needed.
    They won’t engage when they are accused of major environmental disasters and of evil farming practices.
    Over allocation is a myth.
    There was only critical needs water plus some H S water during the drought.
    The farmers who your government and your media blamed for over allocation had no water during that period.
    They did it just as tough as their counterparts in S A.
    I believe we need to learn some lessons from this.
    One of the lessons is we must not abuse those Lakes again or allow those soils to be exposed.
    Everyone here, including Peter, seems to agree that a well designed weir at Wellington is an important part of the answer. So what is the problem with the S A govt?
    Another lesson is that our current storage systems are not capable of keeping fresh water in those Lakes for extended dry cycles
    Just because they are Ramsar listed won’t change that fact.
    S A needs to decide how to deal with that.

  82. John Sayers April 13, 2011 at 10:57 pm #

    they did for the Clarence, the Richmond, nothing new.

  83. Sean April 13, 2011 at 11:46 pm #

    The Australian Pia Akerman article July 12, 2008 “Heroic Action” sought for lakes. Tim Flannery has backed the controversial option of flooding the Murray’s Lower Lakes with salt water as a “heroic measure” to save their dying ecosystem. “One of the things that could be done is a barrage built higher up the system and for the Lower Lakes to be flooded by the sea. Jim Marsh Superintendant Goolwa Barrages in September 1999 “One of the positions being considered is to abandon the barrages and let lakes return to natural estuarine condition and rebuilding the structures at Wellington. It would entail quite significant capital expenditure because they would have to build distribution works down each side of the lakes. These pipelines have now been built one potable from Tailem Bend the other irrigation from Jervois.

  84. Peter R. Smith OAM April 14, 2011 at 8:41 am #

    Hi John,
    The mouth of the River Murray is at best not very deep and huge seas roll in from the Great Southern Ocean and the mouth does shift around a little. Whilst, the dredges have been keeping the mouth channel open, that is all it is a channel. This option has been bandied around for decades and nothing has come of it, especially as meant the removal of the Barrages. I’m totally opposed to the removal as previously stated.
    Hi Sean,
    I cannot accept suggestions from Tim Flannery put forward by Pia Akerman calling it a “heroic measure” to save a dying ecosystem even putting forward.
    Leave the Barrages there build a (all bells and whistles) regulator at or near Wellington and then accumulate water behind the regulator and then pulse freshwater through the regulator when required to maintain the ecosystem. In times of good/high flow keep water flowing into Lake Alexandrina and out through the mouth.

  85. Debbie April 14, 2011 at 10:05 am #

    For you to appeal to Susan that you can have both, means that you must have missed the point here.
    The lesson we have all learnt is that the current storage and diversion systems we have in place cannot supply all the water that would be required to keep those Lakes as fresh water in low inflow and drought years. Not even if we cut back all upstream allocations. It is just physically impossible.
    Susan understands that, why don’t you?
    We had to let all our precious lakes dry out upstream as well. It was heartbreaking and many people have lost their livelihoods because of that. That was not unique to SA, although the SA lakes are awesome because of sheer size and volume.
    I haven’t been there since the drought has broken but the overall look of the place must be amazing now? Same all over the place here.
    One of the reasons I like the saltwater solution is that SA could still have those awesome lakes full of water even in a drought. We don’t have that option here.
    It is pointless to try and advance an argument that someone did it tougher than someone else.
    The farmers that your government and media were loudly blaming (rice and cotton etc) had no water either. In the worst year, 2006/07 many of them were actually in a negative allocation (I know that sounds ludicrous but it is true).
    The figures you posted about S A’s inflows just further prove the point.
    I understand that SA must feel extremely vulnerable, but that is a feature of geography. We can’t move you guys from the bottom of the system.
    SA was lucky that it was possible to still supply that critical needs amount. If it wasn’t for the storage and diversion systems upstream, the Murray River would have stopped flowing for a large part of the drought.
    So, the lesson we need to learn is what is SA going to do about those lakes next time there is a drought cycle?
    According to your AGW mates like Al Gore et al we are going to have more of this type of weather pattern rather than less.
    It logically follows that those lakes are in more danger in the future.
    When there are plenty of inflows like now, there isn’t a problem. Even when the inflows follow long term averages there really isn’t a problem.
    When we are in drought there is no point screaming at the Eastern Stats for more water. There isn’t any available!
    That is precisely when you can’t have both and precisely where you may need to look at solutions that even Tim Flannery (who incidentally never breathes a public word about the Hawkesbury River) has mooted.
    So in summary, even if we put the weir in at Wellington, we cannot supply those lakes with enough water in a drought! We can certainly keep everything upstream mostly out of trouble As Susan points out that is only about 500 GL as opposed to the 2000GL that your proposal would require.
    I hope you understand that there isn’t a spare 2,000,000 ML to ‘pulse through the wier as required’ in the middle of a drought.
    We have to work with the constraints of Mother Nature here. Our storage systems are not able to emulate her. She has also proven to be highly unco-operative lately.

  86. Peter R. Smith OAM April 14, 2011 at 10:27 am #

    Hi Debbie,
    Yes, we can have both to a certain extent. Build a lock/weir at or near Wellington and when water is available pulse in Lake Alexandrina but if the worse comes to the worse let enough seawater to intrude into the Lakes, if only to cover acid sulphate soils, that is as long as all water requirements below Wellington are being met. Why go to the expense of removing the Barrages when as a management option they will be required?
    I understand that a massive amount of wetlands dried out during the drought and it infuriates me when people blame cotton and rice as they are entitled to the water they have purchased and I also know many people in those industries and understand the reliance on those industries.
    We do feel vulnerable and we like it down here and I understand that without regulators the Murray River would have just been a series of pools as it was in the 1910’s when my relations walked across the River at Murray Bridge.
    Al Gore is a friend we both served in Vietnam so have a certain bond but he is not always right but I feel we must pay more notice of changing weather patterns.
    I for one NEVER blame the Eastern States I just seek what is available or the fair share of what is available.
    As I say don’t remove the Barrages use them as a management scenario.

  87. el gordo April 14, 2011 at 10:53 am #

    …’a series of pools as it was in the 1910’s when my relations walked across the River at Murray Bridge.’

    Good argument, Peter. You have my vote on that, but as for Big Al…..he’s a ratbag.

  88. Susan April 14, 2011 at 11:21 am #

    Actually Debbie, I don’t know how much freshwater would be needed to run the lakes as an estuary, I was trying to point out though that it’s obviously got to be less than operating them as freshwater farm dams. I’m sure there is a calculation by estuarine scientists that is more complicated. I just wish someone would make that calculation and add it for consideration to the MDBA draft plan.

    I’m keeping an open mind about those barrages. What if in order to get enough tidal mixing to happen in the lakes, they need to go? Fat chance SA would remove them anyway, they can’t even get a dirt regulator out of the Goolwa Channel at Clayton.

    And just in case, Peter, you haven’t seen the Tim Flannery article Sean is referring to, it’s here:

  89. Peter R. Smith OAM April 14, 2011 at 11:39 am #

    Hi el gordo,
    Thank you for your vote you may call Al a ratbag that is your perogative and he is not always right but he is on my email address list I call him a friend!
    Hi Susan,
    A bad terminology, ‘farm dams’ and I agree this stupid State Government has no idea of water management and your right it can’t be that hard to remove the dirt regulators out.
    Just a point when the MDBA visited Murray Bridge they spoke about a plan to fluctuate the Lake Levels and I pointed out this is not possible from Lock 1 a weir/lock would have to be constructed and the Barrages left in place.
    That you for the link I have included in my next ‘Snippetts Plus’.

  90. Debbie April 14, 2011 at 11:47 am #

    But Peter,
    As reasonable as that obviously sounds to you, your solution still requires an extra 2,000,000ML to be set aside and earmarked as a priority in storage dams ‘just in case’ it might become necessary.
    That is not possible with current storage capabitilities.
    Well it might be, but you can kiss goodbye to a frightening amount of productive irrigation farming upstream because they will have to be denied access to irrigation water when they would need it to farm. There simply isn’t enough storage to satisfy both those needs.
    Don’t forget that ‘timing’ of allocations can be more important than ‘volume’ when you are looking at farming.
    Sorry Susan,
    You’re right. It appears no genuine effort has been made to calculate that solution. It certainly isn’t in the MDBP.
    One would think that SA would or should be doing something like that after what has happened?
    It would seem to be in their best interests to do so?
    As you’ve probably guessed, I don’t come from SA, so that is an assumption on my part.
    Maybe it isn’t in their best interests?

  91. Peter R. Smith OAM April 14, 2011 at 12:23 pm #

    Hi Debbie,
    What I am putting forward is build weir/lock and retain the Barrages and when water is available in times like now allow freshwater to be pulsed into Lake Alexandrina maintaining the freshwater solution but in times of low flows when ( as was the case during the drought) freshwater is not readily accessible only allow enough seawater to invade as to cover acid soils!
    Looking at the time allocations are made may be advisable, more in line with the weather patterns.
    I am going (just tried – busy) a friend who was looking into the scenario of allowing seawater to invade the Lakes I will seek some quanties.

  92. Sean April 14, 2011 at 12:46 pm #

    Peter or someone else can they explain why Red River gums do not grow around the Lower Lakes like they do at Mannum. Peter I have with Peter Marsh made submissions to the DENR re the Lower Lakes but as you know it is Government policy to keep them FRESH. Our submssion was to have a opening and closing barrage on the Goolwa Channel to maintain a minimum lake level 0.5m and to flush the channel on alternate tides. Water would have to be pumped into the lakes over Tauwitchere barrage. Lake Albert would be turned into a transit lake for water being dicharged into the North Coorong. The water will be fresh during wetter times, estuarine during dry times. Some of it will flow into the Southern Coorong with “the Narrows reversing the hyper saline conditions that are affecting the RAMSAR site. The South East drainage scheme water to be divirted from the South East and bring it north to the Southern Coorong Lagoon via the existing system that feeds Salt Creek. The Goolwa Barrage at the moment is at 0.5m and recently at high tide tide and stron southerly winds Beacon 20 just upstream of the barrage had a salt reading 24,146 and at the Hindmarsh Island bridge the river was 0.791 m and the salt level 18,386. I believe the Government still wants its 200GL entitlement so it can be used to supply water to rural areas such as Eyre Peninsular as they started to do in 2009 when local water quality was poor and the desalination plant will look after suburban Adelaide.

  93. Debbie April 14, 2011 at 1:43 pm #

    I’m sorry but you still don’t seem to understand.
    If we were able to rely on weather patterns we wouldn’t need to have this discussion at all.
    We’re disagreeing about how the current storage space in existing dams should be used.
    Of course there is no problem in times like now.
    But with your solution, in average to low inflow years, the dams would be jammed up with your ‘just in case it’s necessary’ water and farmers who grow summer crops would not have space in the dams.
    They therefore would not be able to farm and that would knock out an alarming amount of production in the MDB.
    It has very little to do with weather patterns.
    If we had sensible and reliable weather patterns, we would not have built the dams in the first place.
    If we had sensible and reliable weather patterns, those Lakes would not have been in trouble.
    I still think the only way for your solution to work is to build more storage dams that are specifically for that purpose. If that is not in your plan, then your plan will be denying water to established farming practices.
    Otherwise, I think we would be all much smarter to look at solutions that people like Jennifer and Susan and Sean and John and many many others are trying to put up.
    The bonus is that your lakes will never dry up again.
    In the next drought ours will unless we build more storage to cater for that need as well.
    We don’t even have the option of seawater to keep our lakes and wetlands full and beautiful.
    You do.

  94. Susan April 14, 2011 at 1:47 pm #

    Debbie, I think that SA is lacking leaders with vision. The Lower Lakes as they are currently managed have been known to be ailing at least as long as 2000 when the MDBC report, River Murray Barrages Environmental Flows report came out. The so called freshwater ecology was failing even then.

    SA could re-engineer the Lakes estuary so that it functions as a viable estuary. And what an internationally significant environmental story that could be. Bring back mulloway, congolli, orange bellied parrot habitat, mangroves, etc. Make the Murray Mouth navigable so you could get a real boat into the protected waters of the Coorong. It could be a fantastic opportunity for tourism. Make the place a destination the rest of Australia wants to visit and is willing to sacrifice fresh water for.

    I might just have to move to Queensland if I want to live on an estuary…

  95. John Sayers April 14, 2011 at 3:55 pm #

    Just go to Google Earth and check out Milang – you can see the water is out past the end of the jetty even in street view. The water is normally lapping at the foreshore where all the holiday cabins are. This year they managed to hold the yachting regatta or the first time in years.

  96. Debbie April 14, 2011 at 6:50 pm #

    I’m positive someone like you who has an open mind and is prepared to wade through mountains of information and, most importantly, is prepared to argue for some common sense would be welcome wherever you go.
    We need more people like you in our patch in the MDB too. Common sense seems to have deserted a lot of places.
    No chance of an estaury here!
    Personally, I think SA needs you to stay there 🙂
    It’s amazing what happens when we ‘just add water’.
    It’s a bit of a shame that a lot of people on the Eastern Seaboard have only seen pictures of the drought and then straight after that, the devastation from the floods.
    While neither of those are unusual, there is a whole other story that is happening. It’s quite exciting to see the return of so many things, including water recreational activities.
    We harvested our first summer crop in 6 years.
    There are so many frogs and turtles and birds that we could nearly make a Hitchcock movie.
    Some of our beautiful lakes have filled up for the first time in over 6 years and everyone, including the wildlife are enjoying them immensly.
    The rather ironic part is that none of it was caused by any work from any of our bureaucrats or politicians. They’ve just managed to spend a lot of money and come up with a hopelessly impractical plan 🙂

  97. John Sayers April 14, 2011 at 10:53 pm #

    Exactly Debbie. Just add water.

  98. Peter R. Smith OAM April 15, 2011 at 10:52 am #

    Hi Sean,
    Regarding the growth of Redgums is not something I know about I would suggest the saline ground water. We have been seeking a channel from Lake Albert to the Coorong for some time to no avail. Re water to Eyre Peninsular we have for a long time believed a desalination plant should not be built at Whyalla but on the West Coast so SA Water can supply the community needs and BP Billiton can access water for their mining commitments and the new desalination plant being slowly constructed cannot supply enough potable water for all our needs.
    Hi Debbie,
    I believe I do understand but re building more storages has massive repercussions regarding firstly the massive costs, moving people from the proposed site and many more implications and for Governments it is all too hard.
    Hi Susan,
    Yes, our leaders do not have vision and of course being a cynic I believe that one of the reasons is that they hold no seats within the MDB in SA. SA will always oppose any estuarine solution!
    Hi John,
    The water is lapping the foreshore.
    Hi Susan,
    I have an open mind and am willing to accept change I just need to be involved in the discussions so I can listen to all sides of the equation.
    A Fresh History of the Lakes:
    Wellington to the Murray Mouth 1800’s to 1935.
    The Murray Mouth:
    Exploring the implications of closure or restricted flow.
    Web Site: http://www.mdbc.gov.au

    Murray Darling Basin Ministerial Council
    The Salinity Audit of the Murray Darling Basin
    Web Site: http://www.mdbc.gov.au

  99. Debbie April 15, 2011 at 11:58 am #

    Thanks Peter,
    I guess it comes down to this:
    The Dams were built to store water in times of excess so that we could wisely manage this resource to supply critical human needs and food production when the inevitable dry times re appear.
    They were NOT repeat NOT built to assist flooding or flushing or to keep the SA lakes full of fresh water.
    They were built because people recognised that our highly unpredictable climate would not allow us to populate and produce in inland Australia with any sort of security.
    The added bonus that the Snowy Scheme teaches us is that we can also produce clean power.
    They have quite clearly reached their use by date and are in serious need of upgrading and we’re probably in serious need of building more storage, conservation and diversion systems.
    Inland Australia has grown and prospered and I believe that it a good thing as long as our Nation can supply the essential resources.
    For farmers to be able to grow valuable summer crops, they need to have some clear indication of their allocation at the start of the watering season.
    If we have got the dams jammed up with ‘just in case it might be needed to fill up the lower lakes water’, then the farmers can’t be given an allocation in time (and I hope you understand that timing is critical) to plan a cropping program.
    Summer Cropping relies SOLELY on available and accessible irrigation water. There is no ‘just in case’ involved.
    I don’t think you truly understand what the ramifications of your plan are. I believed you understood how Water Sharing Plans worked but perhaps you don’t?
    Even this season, when there is SOOOOO much water around and obviously the environment did not need a helping hand from Australia’s storage system, because all our State bureaucracies are trying to make the dams perform MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE FUNCTIONS, farmers did not recieve their full allocations until late December.
    That can’t possibly work.
    Farmers have to plan and plant their Summer crops well before that.
    Do you see the problem?
    If we try to make the dams become devices to assist flooding and to keep vast wetland areas at the bottom of the system viable, then the farmers will have to be denied access when they need it to farm.
    As nice as it must sound in theory, the dams cannot do both with any sort of success unless we always had seasons like this one….which of course we don’t.
    If we always had seasons like this one…..we wouldn’t need the dams!

  100. Peter R. Smith OAM April 15, 2011 at 1:53 pm #

    Hi Debbie,
    You probably believe I am being selfish but if I am it is because of the Murray Darling Basin my interest in it and my fond belief that changes must be made to ensure we save the Basin and ensure it’s proper management in the best interest of Australia.
    I have never believed that dams/catchments were built or should be built ‘just in case it might be needed to fill up the lower lakes water’ all communities must be treated equally. SA’s meagre 1850-gigalitre entitlement under the signed cap agreement is not protected but I believe that meagre amount should be quarantined.
    Regarding allocations the South Australian irrigators are still not entitled to their full allocations and are only able to source 67%.
    ‘If we try to make the dams become devices to assist flooding’ well they tried that with Wivenhoe and what a bloody disaster because of absolutely stupid management regimes they ensured that the bulk of the Brisbane flood was because of that stupidity.
    I totally agree that farmers must have the water required for summer crops but does that exclude those who rely on the Lakes between Wellington and the Barrages. Also we have lost over 100 dairy farms between where I live and the Barrages don’t those people deserve better treatment.
    I’m sorry I am eager to see change but the once Mighty River Murray must empty into the sea as all major river systems around the World as river don’t die from there source!

  101. Susan April 15, 2011 at 2:37 pm #

    See what I have to deal with here in SA?

    The Mighty River Murray WOULD empty into the sea if it did not have those BARRAGES in the way.

  102. Peter R. Smith OAM April 15, 2011 at 3:03 pm #

    Hi Susan,
    Let’s not be stupid I certainly do not want to see the River Murray empty into the sea but to be managed properly so as we (all Australians) can all the enjoy the bounty for its precious water but it must still flow all the way and some must run out into the Southern Ocean to keep in healthy and alive.

  103. Debbie April 15, 2011 at 3:39 pm #

    I don’t know where you have got your information from, but the 1850 GL entitlement for SA is quarrantined.
    In fact when we got to the highly critical part of the drought, SA’s 1850GL was quarrantined in several different upstream dams for a 3 year forward storage. Farmers like us got put into negative allocations (!) to make sure that there was enough to supply that 1850GL.
    I don’t have a single problem with that. The dams were built to supply critical human needs. During 2006/07/08 it got about as critical as it could get!
    Where we part company is if SA thinks it’s OK to quarrantine a further 2000GL and forward store it…that is what the MDBA is basically proposing and that is the only number on the table. That can’t possibly work.
    Your 67% allocations there are due to SA’s water sharing plans and a whole lot of other bureaucratic baloney about carry over and CAP limits. I’m assuming you understand how that works….it would take too long to explain it here.
    I think that is disgraceful.
    There is plenty of water available at the moment.

    However, it is your own soap box argument that is largely responsible for that happening.

    We have all these extra uses that the Dams are supposed to be supplying and catering for and it immediately causes the farmers to be denied their full allocations. They can’t have them because the priority for the water that they should have, has been given to something else. In SA! It wasn’t upstream that caused that…it is your own SA Govt.

    I also think that it is sad about the farmers who have left. That is not a unique problem for SA. It was caused by the drought and also a whole lot of other marketting, transport and demographic issues.

    We completely part company over this one:
    ‘ I’m sorry I am eager to see change but the once Mighty River Murray must empty into the sea as all major river systems around the World as river don’t die from there source!

    That is complete rubbish Peter. I’m sorry.
    The once Mighty River Murray? Really?
    You have even commented elsewhere here that the Murray was only mighty on rare ocaisions.
    In the past it was just as likely to be a set of swampy disconnected puddles!
    It is not like ‘all major river systems around the world’. It only runs out to sea when mother nature deems it so!
    I’m sorry, as nice as it sounds in theory, 1850GL won’t do it for you, especially in low flow years, because that’s your critical needs allocation.
    I guess if SA wants to put that in the lakes, that’s their choice, but I imagine they would have a major rebellion on their hands.
    A further 2000GL won’t do it for you either. In fact those lakes are so huge and so awesome all the upstream storage combined won’t achieve it for you in low inflow sequences.
    You need Mother Nature for that.
    The CAP was designed to make sure more water gets down there when there is excess flow. Unfortunately for your SA farmers, they got put at the bottom of the WSP hierarchy.
    That is a whole other argument. I disagree with that for the same reasons I disagree with what you’re proposing….it disadvantages the farmers and also causes inept bureaucrats to try a paperwork shuffle to make the same parcels of water do several different jobs!

    In my heart I would love to agree with you because the ‘fantasy’ of a once mighty river flowing out to sea and there being plenty for everyone to share after that was done, sounds just lovely.
    Unfortunately that is dreamland. In practice, with what we have available now, it just can’t work unless you tip all the farmers out of the storage dams. In low inflow years it still wouldn’t work.
    As much as we’d love to make our storage systems emulate our ideal of nature, they just can’t possibly do it unless our weather patterns are fully cooperating.
    They don’t and they won’t!

  104. Debbie April 15, 2011 at 3:41 pm #

    yes I can see!

  105. Peter R. Smith OAM April 15, 2011 at 5:47 pm #

    Hi Debbie,
    I HAVE NEVER asked for an extra or further 2000-gigalitres and do not expect that to be put aside in any storages. When extra is available and under the sharing arrangement and from unregulated flow then it will come down the river and of course into the Lakes and when the system is full as it is now it will flow out through the Barrages to the Southern Ocean.
    At the present time Dartmouth is at 2410Gl or 63%, Hume is at 2788Gl or 93%, Lake Victoria is at 442Gl or 65% whilst Menindee lakes is holding 2012 or 116% and at all cost that must be protected.
    As for our 1850-gigalitres which is the SA cap as in the signed agreement we did not receive our entitlement flow for a couple of years during the last 5 but as luck would have it we are now receiving in excess of the cap but because of the stupidity of our Premier Mike Rann who signed the 2007 water agreement well he should be put down, idiot!
    Yes I understand the system!
    My family knows only too well what the river can degrade to when it became a series of pools. SA irrigators may be at the bottom of WSP (WSP what does that stand for) hierarchy but I believe all water users MUST be treated equally.
    One of the biggest problems are the ‘inept bureaucrats’ but they are only matched by our gutless politicians.
    As I have stated before if things get so bad we have to accept an invasion of seawater so be it but a regulator must then be built near Wellington.

  106. Sean April 15, 2011 at 6:23 pm #

    Well the Lower Lakes must have been saline for very,very,very,very, longtime.

  107. val majkus April 15, 2011 at 6:37 pm #

    Peter I’ve checked that link you’ve given in relation to salinity
    All I’ve found is reference to ‘salinity audit’ in numerous places without any detail as to how that been done
    and quite frankly that’s not acceptable or to my mind persuasive
    Where is the audit and the evidence upon which it was based

  108. John Sayers April 15, 2011 at 6:46 pm #

    “things get so bad we have to accept an invasion of seawater so be it but a regulator must then be built near Wellington.”

    so bad? are you an environmentalist or not? The natural state for the Murray River is for it to flow directly to the ocean. So take away the barrages – that’s what an environmentalist would do.

    Anything further is purely to support some one’s agenda.

  109. Sean April 15, 2011 at 11:10 pm #

    Hi everybody
    Just a thought the Murray River doesn’t have a mouth it flows into Lake Alexandrina which also flows into Lake Albert which is blind lake which in turn flows into the Coorong via the Tauwitchere and Mudoo Channels and Boundary Creek which all flow into the Coorong Channel out to sea at the same point as the Goolwa Channel. The Finniss River doesn’t have a mouth as it flows into Goolwa or the Lower Murray as does Currency Creek which flows into the Goolwa Channel which then flows out to sea.
    Lakes Entrance which river mouth does that belong to?
    I haven’t got the figures as they are in my old computer which has a serious graphic problem, but S.A. only received about half of the 1850 GL last year. The records I kept on rainfall throughout the basin matched similar figures the best since 1974, that’s in the old computer as well. I

  110. Peter R. Smith OAM April 16, 2011 at 6:57 am #

    Hi Sean,
    Lakes Alexandrina and Albert were tidal for a very,very,very,very, longtime.
    I am still waiting to a link to the latest advice!
    Hi John,
    No I’m not really an environmentalist but my passion is the Murray Darling Basin and especially the River Murray. We cannot just take away the Barrages and believe everything will be OK as the complexity of the entire system and the Locks and Weirs constructed have made change that removal of the Barrages will fix. Building a regulator at Wellington becomes an absolute necessity to protect not only the River to Blanchetown bu also upstream.
    As for the environmentalists I have dealing with do not wish to see the Barrages removed.
    The River Murray mouth? The Murray Mouth isn’t that what the South Australian Government has been spending millions of dollars on continuing to dredge?

  111. Peter R. Smith OAM April 16, 2011 at 7:01 am #

    Hi John,
    CORRECTION, “We cannot just take away the Barrages and believe everything will be OK as the complexity of the entire system and the Locks and Weirs constructed have made change that removal of the Barrages will NOT fix.

  112. John Sayers April 16, 2011 at 9:03 am #

    Peter – it’s just a matter or opening up the weirs and locks so the whole system can operate like Lake Macquarie and Tuggarah Lake in NSW as Sean suggests.

  113. Debbie April 16, 2011 at 10:30 am #

    That would be a feature of the ‘paper shuffling’ that occurs.
    Each Govt tends to ‘interpret’ their figures differently.
    You can go to NSW Office of water site and clearly see that (they claim) 3 years of SA critical needs water was forward stored in the worst of the drought.
    I agree, that it was highly likely by the time they calculated in losses, conveyance water, operational water, carryover rules etc and then also calculated in traded water into their WSP (sorry Peter, that stands for water sharing plan) the final actual delivery to SA would have been less than the stated storage amount.
    The same sort of shennanigans occured upstream as well, to the point where some farmers actually got calculated into a negative and had to pay back the ‘paper negative’ in the following season. On their books it said we had an allocation, in reality we had none.
    It looks perfectly reasonable on paper to them (or more precisely their computer models).

    Once again, what you say sounds wonderfully altruistic and idealistic:
    ‘but I believe all water users MUST be treated equally.’

    Unfortunately, by their very nature, WSPs (water sharing plans) do not operate that way.
    We no longer have enough storage to satisfy the needs of all water users and people who support your arguments about the Lakes being kept fresh and grand ideals about ‘the once Mighty Murray River’ that is ‘dying from the bottom up’ has caused your SA farmers and also farmers upstream to be kicked out of storage dams at the very time they need to have access to them.
    What we would all like to happen and what actually happens are quite different.
    The truth is, that unless we find ways to access more water storage, the current system cannot possibly supply both the established farming practices and the ‘environmental wetlands’ in below average years because their water needs are ‘MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE’
    The ‘end of system flows’ and ‘the environmental needs’ have been given priority storage space in the dams. The MDBA wants to do more of that.
    It’s not a huge problem this year (although the same argument has prevented your SA farmers from accessing any more than 67% of their water entitlements), but it is a huge problem in average to low inflow years.
    I realise that you personally have never said that 2000GL needs to be accessed and set aside, but the MDBA in support of your ‘end of system flow’ argument has deemed from ‘the best available science’ that is the minumum requirement.

    As much as I would like to buy into lecturing SA about those barrages and the abuse that has resulted from that, I don’t believe as an upstream irrigator I should. That is SA’s duty to solve.

    I will argue however, that SA’s solution should not involve accessing an extra 2000GL (or part thereof) that results in traditional users of available storage space being kicked out. (Including SA irrigators)

    My personal feeling is that SA has extra options that they have not fully investigated.
    We don’t have the seawater option to keep our wetlands wet in severe drought years.

    It’s remarkable however that the same wetlands that everyone claimed were dying because of ‘over allocation’ have bounced back in a spectacular manner. (Just add water!)
    It is still the farmers and the rural communities who work with them who are needing assistance.
    They’re still being loudly blamed for ‘environmental vandalism’

    I agree with Sean. There is another agenda here and ‘the environment’ is being used as a very convenient and popular EXCUSE.

    I don’t mean to be rude Peter, but your continued repetition of ‘The Once Mighty River Murray that flowed out to sea’, that we ‘Must at all costs stop the river from dying from the bottom up’ that ‘The Murray is in the top 10 most degraded rivers in the world’, “we must keep the Lakes fresh’ ‘we have to flush out the salt’ and similar statements is actually playing straight into the hands of the politicians.

    There is a political scrap going on over the control of water. The ‘environment’ is their trump card.
    They’re all arguing about water being a ‘precious and finite’ resource and that we ‘must return water to the environment’.
    Totally hypocritical and disingenious.
    If they were doing their job properly, they would be working out how to source enough storage to supply the increased demands THAT THEY ENCOURAGED THEMSELVES!

  114. Sean April 16, 2011 at 10:33 am #

    Jim Marsh Superintendant Golwa Barrage in September 1999 quoted from the Alexandrina Local history Archive :-
    ” One of the postitions being considered is to abandon the barrages and let the lakes return to natural estuarine condition and rebuild the structure at Wellington. It would entail quite significant capital expenditure because they would have to build distribution works down each side and all the people who now pump water out of the Lakes would have to be supplied from a large pipeline. The ecological benefit would be quite profound-it would never return to what it was before control because of the reduced amount of freshwater that’s allowed to come down the river now. The political ramifications of shifting the barrages would be too hot for any government to try and weather and the damage has been done. But there could be a lot more allowance made for ecological considerations.
    These pipelines have been built, potable water is now supplied from Tailem Bend down one side and the extending of the Strathalbyn supply on the other all still out of the Murray. Hindmarsh Island is supplied by Myponga Rervoir the same as Goolwa. A new irrigation pipeline ( $93 million Commonwealth and State money and $13 million private ) has been built from Jervois to Curremcy Creek. I have asked since the very first meeting at Langhorne Creek why Myponga Reservoir was not supplying this area and what about the Finniss Reservoir as it was still on the Govt. website is still a goer the answer was negative. The new pipelines were built still taking water from the Murray. I asked again if you can build a pipeline from Jervois to Currency Creek why couldn’t you extend the Myponga pipeline from Goolwa ( not River Murray water ) we now know the desalination plant is being built and Myponga will not have to top up the Happy Valley Reservoir, still build Finniss and if required top it up from Myponga and supply this side of the ranges
    The RAMSAR agreement was used by a certain Premier ( a recent advisor for the Govt. ) to get his 1850 GL guaranteed water supply for the state and as we know RAMSAR sites don’t have to be FRESH. The cost of a guaranteed 200 GL of water for Adelaide is by far cheaper than building Reservoirs.
    The Coorong how much has that improved zilch.

  115. Debbie April 16, 2011 at 11:08 am #

    I just realised that a lot of what I said could be condensed into this:
    Water SHARING Plans is actually a misnoma (wrong name)
    They should be called
    Water PRIORITY plans.
    That’s what they do, attach priority to parcels of water that will be given access first and also in times of shortage will have priority over other parcels.
    The Govt is using ‘The Environment’ to gain access to more storage water. ‘Environmental water’ actually has priority over ‘human critical needs’ in the WSPs.
    During the drought they actually had to suspend the WSPs because that would have meant that SA was in danger of running out of water for their towns and cities and also their stock and domestic supplies.
    The WSPs have been reinstated from next watering season.
    That whole procedure also caused SA farmers to only get 67% of their entitlement when there is so much water around.
    Believe it or not, the silly water bureacracies are actually ‘paying back’ water to the ‘environment’ right now.
    Like they think that is making an environmental difference?

  116. Debbie April 17, 2011 at 12:14 pm #

    The SA govt and everyone else who rabbit on about ‘we have to flush the salt out through the mouth of the mighty river Murray’ would not want those current salt figures published anywhere.
    They have just had the biggest ‘flush’ in 20 years and the salt and toxin and sediment problem will be way worse than before.
    Because of the nature of our land and river systems, a ‘flush’ just means more of the salts and toxins end up at the bottom of the drain.
    Common sense dictates because the mouth is jammed up by the barrages it would mean that the salt problem is being exacerbated in the lower lakes.
    Salt is ALWAYS a bigger problem when the rivers are being flushed. The rivers themselves raise the salt.

  117. Peter R. Smith OAM April 17, 2011 at 1:36 pm #

    Hi John,
    When you say, “it’s just a matter or opening up the weirs and locks so the whole system can operate like Lake Macquarie and Tuggarah Lake in NSW as Sean suggests” do you mean ALL Weirs and Locks ie, Hume Weir and all the Locks and Weirs including the Barrages?
    If that is case the only major water storages containing water would be Dartmouth, Menindee and Lake Victoria.
    Hi Debbie,
    I couldn’t agree more the WSP are do not treat all water users the same.
    And yes, the SA Government must put more work into alternate water availability.
    Hi Sean,
    Interest comments by Jim Marsh Superintendant Goolwa Barrage, “it would never return to what it was before control because of the reduced amount of freshwater that’s allowed to come down the river now” that’s for sure.
    Also the comment, “The political ramifications of shifting the barrages would be too hot for any government to try and weather and the damage has been done. But there could be a lot more allowance made for ecological considerations” is also a good and true comment.
    Hi Val,
    After reading your comment what is your answer?

  118. val majkus April 17, 2011 at 5:17 pm #

    Peter I was waiting for you to provide the answer to this great salinity problem; you were the one who referred to it and then when I asked for scientific papers you were not able to provide any;
    you referred me to an audit which provides no references
    My answer (and the initial question I had) is where’s the evidence you are relying upon for your statement about all the salt flushing down the Murray
    So far you’ve failed to provide it

  119. John Sayers April 17, 2011 at 6:08 pm #

    “do you mean ALL Weirs and Locks ie, Hume Weir and all the Locks and Weirs including the Barrages?”

    Of course not – I mean south of Wellington.

  120. John Sayers April 17, 2011 at 6:17 pm #

    In fact I’d make Murray Bridge the saline fresh interface giving a good stretch of river from the lake.

  121. Sean April 17, 2011 at 6:17 pm #

    The inflows were the actual weekly figures into S.A. from MDBA reports plus weekly figures from inflows over Lock 1 noting the difference between the two. I kept weekly figures of salt levels in various areas Murray Bridge, Meningie,Milang and Goolwa along with monthly levels of the Goolwa Channel. What concerned me was how the Fresh Water supporters built the level of the Goolwa Channel 0.75m by pumping water over the Clayton Regulator from Lake Alexandrina and getting permission from the S.A. Govt. to use the Goolwa Barrage Lock from 3rd. October 2009 through to the Easter 2010.

  122. Sean April 17, 2011 at 7:00 pm #

    I agree with you, Peter Marsh and I before any of the new pipelines were thought off had made the suggestion to the Dept. E&H after reading Tim Flannery’s idea for the Lower Lakes that the new barrage/lock be built at Swanport which has a solid granite base and the river was approximately 220 Metres wide where the bridge was built. The pump station at Tailem Bend closed ( had reached high salt levels a few times )and the pipeline to be extended back to Murray Bridge as could have the new irrigation pipeline through to Currency Creek. As I have mentioned above Myponga Reservoir should now expanded more to supply this area with potable water especially now that State Govt. wants to expand Mount Barker.

  123. Peter R. Smith OAM April 17, 2011 at 8:45 pm #

    Hi Val,
    When I have the link I will provide it.
    Hi John,
    To drawn in across the River at Murray Bridge so the River to then would become saline. What a selfish idea as what you are saying is let’s kill all the vegetation growing along the River to Murray Bridge and ensure that the Lower River Murray Swamps can never be used for either dairies or any other use requiring fresh water therefore turning a massive amount of River into a stinking saline mess. Get real!
    Hi Sean,
    Most South Australians didn’t support the construction of the Clayton Regulator – which is now becoming increasingly difficult to remove.
    The supporters of the construction were mainly the boating fraternity and many tourism operators but many of us believe it was also something to do with the 2010 “Tour Down Under” we wouldn’t want overseas visitors to know the truth, ‘we can’t properly manage the Murray Darling Basin’.
    The building a regulator at Swanport is bull and this reference to a solid granite base is over stated, our engineers no longer use 1990’s technology and refer to my comment to John.
    It sounds to me like many people living in the Eastern States would be happy if the River Murray and the Lakes below Lock 1 were just disregarded altogether, well I’m sorry this is Australia and as Australians we are all in this together!

  124. Sean April 17, 2011 at 10:24 pm #

    You must be climbing up that pole again at Mannum where did I say I supported the Clayton Regulator my message was “what a waist of Fresh Water” by allowing the lock to be used. My opinion on the Clayton Regulator if they were going too build it was to fill it with sea water until the rains came. The old Dept. of E&H sprooked at meetings that they only have to write to Mr. Garret to get permission to pull down the Clayton Regulator no mention about the cost. The same Dept. head after spending $10 million dollars on the failed Lake Albert trial commented on 891 at least we tried. When I asked Russell Seaman at a Clayton meeting how much did it cost to spray rye grass on the Goolwa Channel he couldn’t tell me and wasn’t it a bit silly wasting that money when they were going to flood it. Two weeks later a meeting in Goolwa he said crop dusters cost he quoted a figure the same as I paid for a bobcat. The same Dept. paid $220,000 for a information centre at Milang, haven’t seen any money for alternate ideas. My apologies for being ignorant on my engineering skills but if the bottom can hold up a bridge it can also support a Lock/Barrage rather than just a regulator. Tim Flannery was suggesting further upstream from Wellington, just taking note of the Professor.
    It appears we got it wrong.

  125. Debbie April 17, 2011 at 11:23 pm #

    You need to cease with your motherhood statements! Please?
    People are trying to discuss all the possibilities and if they don’t agree with your ideas they are immediately selfish?
    When the rains and the inflows are average to above average the lakes will have fresh water.
    When they’re not, SA has the option of using seawater to help keep the lakes full and not put stress on a system that can’t provide water to the lakes unless it denies farmers upstream (including SA farmers) their access to water.
    It will also prevent the abuse of those lakes and the exposure of those acid sulphate soils.
    As I said before, I’m not a South Australian so I shouldn’t lecture about your lakes.
    I will fight however if you insist my community must sacrifice its water to keep those lakes full in low inflow years.
    This solution will also require siginificant amounts of water jamming up the upstream dams ‘just in case’ thelakes might need it.
    If SA truly wants a freshwater solution for their lakes, it will have to look elsewhere.

    No one here is suggesting this:

    “let’s kill all the vegetation growing along the River to Murray Bridge and ensure that the Lower River Murray Swamps can never be used for either dairies or any other use requiring fresh water therefore turning a massive amount of River into a stinking saline mess.”

    You are the only one who has said that.

    No one wants to turn a massive amount of river into a stinking saline mess.
    The solutions being discussed here will not do that.

    You seem to forget that when the rivers are flowing and following long term averages, there will be no problem. (Although those Lakes will have problems with accumulated salts, sediment and toxins because of management decisions in SA)

    Your comment about pulling out all the regulatory systems is also unfounded.
    I believe those barrages were put in after the upstream dams were built, not before.
    It is not the upstream regulatory systems that are causing trouble for your lakes, it is the recent drought and also SA’s refusal to use the extra options that are available.
    Your SA Govt has also sacrificed its own farmers in its pusuit of a ‘totally freshwater solution’ for SA.

    The Eastern states do not want to disregard the lakes or the Murray below lock 1.
    Whatever gave you that idea?

    What we should all be hoping for is some common sense and some good plans that can work for the whole system.

    The bottom line is that a totally freshwater solution for the Lakes will deny upstream farmers (including SA farmers) access to water at the very time they would need it to farm successfully.

    When is that time?
    In average to below average inflow years.

    Please think about it Peter.
    There is no other way that your solution could possibly work in low inflow sequences unless SA works out ways to source extra water, specifically for that purpose.
    You don’t have a problem in above average years.
    You say that can’t happen because of the expenses etc.
    So, maybe, Jennifer, John, Susan, Sean, Flannery (?) and many many others may be on to something here?
    As John says: The cost of a guaranteed 200 GL of water for Adelaide is by far cheaper than building Reservoirs.

  126. Sean April 17, 2011 at 11:24 pm #

    I am sure it was definitely to do with 2010 “Tour Down Under”

    The Clayton Regulator I was wondering if it anything to do with “The Wooden Boat Festival” 7th,8th and 9th March, 2009.
    The Goolwa Channel – 1.034 m below sea level end of March and April,2009. It improved over the winter period to be -0.105 at the of September,2009. They started pumping water over the Clayton Regulator second half of October,2009 to bring the Goolwa Channel to 0.750 m above sea level second week of November,2009. The channel was back to -0.59 m below sea level by the end of April,2010 as the lock had been operating from the long weekend in October,2009 until the end of Easter, 2010. The winter rains brought the channel back to 0.767 m above sea level by the end of August,2010. The Clayton Regulator had a channel cut into it September,2010.

  127. Sean April 18, 2011 at 12:56 am #

    I have found the inflow figures for water year 2009/2010.

    July to December, 2009 Ent. 935.0 GL
    Rcd. 553.8 GL
    January to June, 2010 Ent. 915.0 GL
    Rcd. 1216.8

    Full year Ent. 1850.0 GL
    Rcd. 1770.6 GL

    Still looking for 2008 / 2009

  128. Peter R. Smith OAM April 18, 2011 at 7:53 am #

    Hi Sean,
    My apology over the Clayton Regulator mistake.
    HI Debbie,
    John’s comment was, “In fact I’d make Murray Bridge the saline fresh interface giving a good stretch of river from the lake” and that scares the hell out of me.
    I agree when we have good years all is fine and in periods of drought/low inflows the Lakes become a problem and acid sulphate soils appear, (this was the first time that problem had arisen) and now many of our irrigation drains as far upstream as Mannum are now extremely acidic.
    OK I will forget about what you call my ‘motherhood’ statements but if there are any sacrifices we must all sacrifice and I also agree that we – South Australia – must find solutions.
    All of the irrigators I know below Lock 1 are totally against the removal of the Barrages and they are the irrigators who suffered during the drought when the river at Mannum dropped over 2-metres below pool level!
    Your last point, “As John says: The cost of a guaranteed 200 GL of water for Adelaide is by far cheaper than building Reservoirs” that is what senior public servants pointed out at a meeting many years ago, “the cheapest water is from the River Murray”.
    As for building Reservoirs, I am in favour of building but where is the problem!

  129. Debbie April 18, 2011 at 10:01 am #

    Thanks for those figures.
    How interesting that what’s on the books and then what happens in reality are so different.
    Those woeful figures for SA from those very tough years in the middle of the drought are because of a sleight of hand in’water accounting’ and the fact that the WSPs were suspended.
    Environmental water had to be taken off the top of the list in the WSP and therefore, even though you were ‘entitled’ to more, their change of rules and the calculations of losses, conveyance, carry over, water trades etc, meant that you didn’t actually get your total allocation delivered. That’s how WSPs work…that’s why Water SHARING Plan is a misnoma.
    SA’s % of entitlement was definitely quarrantined with some priority, but it got tipped off the top of the list and meant that the full allocation was not available.
    We know what that feels like!
    Those same accounting figures actually caused some irrigators in NSW to be placed in a negative allocation at the start of the 2007/08 season. Some of that ‘non existent water’ was added to SA’s allocation….and here’s the kicker….they thought that was a perfectly reasonable way to explain it????? Water was on the books, it just wasn’t in the storages or flowing down the river….not anywhere actually other than on the books!
    To add insult to injury, they are now ‘paying back’ that water when nobody needs it and SA farmers are locked out of a full allocation.
    That is the main reason why Eucumbene (the mother lode at the top of the system) is still only at approx 30%.
    It’s an absolute minefield and lacks sensible and practical water management principles.
    I’m sorry but what would you call this statement?
    ‘but if there are any sacrifices we must all sacrifice’
    I would call that a ‘motherhood statement’
    What does that mean?
    I’m not sure why anyone thinks there has to be ‘sacrifices’ anyway.
    SURELY, after what the drought has taught us we can learn the hard lessons and come up with solutions that make sense?
    The MDBA’s ‘end of system flows’ hydrological solutions play into your hands for a total freshwater solution for SA and will demand huge (and I mean HUGE) sacrifices for established and viable water usage all along the MDB.
    While I understand you don’t personally believe that an extra 2000GL should be quarrantined in upstream storages, that is nevertheless the only plan on the table.
    That won’t work because all farmers upstream from the Lakes, including SA farmers will be denied access to water at the times when they most need it.
    It can’t work any other way because the needs of those 2 uses are completely ‘mutually exclusive’.
    The dams were not built to assist flooding and flushing or to keep freshwater in the lower lakes in low inflow sequences.
    If they’re used for those purposes then they can’t be used for their original intended purposes.

  130. val majkus April 18, 2011 at 5:09 pm #

    Peter there’s a lot a mention there in those links about salinity but no evidence about how it’s measured
    sorry, motherhood statements
    is this what you relied upon in your MDB submission?
    and if not, then could you give me a link to what you did rely upon?

  131. Sean April 18, 2011 at 5:58 pm #

    Peter Marsh who I met at the very first meeting in Goolwa and who has since given up, got sick of talking to brick walls in politicians and public servants. I told him I would continue to push his barrow.
    This was anotherone of his ideas.
    Allocating 1,200 GL a year to evaporate from the Southern Lakes is absurb waste of fresh water when salt water would be just as effective at keeping the Murray Mouth open. The Burra Lakes ( Apoinga lagoo, Porter lagoon ) southof Burra together can hold around 3,000 GL of water in deep bodies of water. Apoinga lagoon has a surface area of around 50 sq. km and an average depth of around 30 metres. This means that it contains 1,500 GL ( about the same volume as the Southern Lakes ). Evaporation from the SL is around is around 1.3 metres per annum and given teir surface araeis ~ 860 sq. km gives the 1,300 GL evaporation Tim Flannery mentioned.
    By contrast Apoinga lagoon with its much smaller surface area would result in only 50×1.3=65 GL a year. This is a tiny amount of water lost to evaporation. It also means that if the lake was filled

  132. Sean April 18, 2011 at 6:21 pm #

    Somehow it submitted before I had finished.
    It means that if the lake was filled to capacity in a wet year it could be held in reserve for about ten years and by itself could supply Adelaide with the 100 GL that it draws from the Murray several times over. The only obstacle is the need to build a dam and provide pumping from Morgan up to Apoinga Lagoon. The Morgan to Whyalla pipeline is only about 10 kilometres to its north.

  133. Debbie April 18, 2011 at 7:42 pm #

    Thanks for that Sean,
    It is refreshing and heartening to know that there are people who are looking for sensible and practical solutions.
    I would be interested in looking at your whole submission/proposal if that was possible?
    Do you have a link?
    Jen has my email address. I will give her the OK to pass it on to you.
    I really can’t understand why the SA Govt does not want to look at the extra option that the rest of us in the MDB do not have.
    That is…. they have the option of using seawater to reduce the demand on the MDB system when we have low inflows.
    When the inflows get as bad as they were in 2006/07/08/09, the rest of us cannot help our environmental assets the same way SA can.
    For some unknown reason SA has chosen to abuse those lakes in an attempt to try and gain more storage in upstream dams. It wasn’t there anyway.
    Our water bureaucracies tried to invent extra water ‘on paper’ out of thin air.
    When the ‘thin air’ actually filled up with real water, they trashed it down the river when not one environmental asset, including the lower lakes, needed it.
    SA farmers were also made to pay dearly for that manoeuvre.
    Like that made sense?
    It is just as wasteful as what SA is trying to do with their ‘total freshwater’ mindset.
    I can understand why Peter Marsh wanted to give up.
    Our State Govt really doesn’t have any better record.
    Water bureaucracies are among the most frustrating of all!
    Now we have to deal with a whole new water bureaucracy created by the Federal Government.
    Oh great!

  134. Peter R. Smith OAM April 18, 2011 at 7:42 pm #

    Hi Val,
    I did not rely on any salinity figures or amounts in my submission to the MDBA I in my submission only sought an EIS into the construction of a regulator at or near Wellington which can be found on my web site under Lock Zero.
    Also the calculated evaporation from Menidee Lakes is 43% higher than the Lakes Alexandrina and Albert and the Lakes evaporation is only 800 to 900-gigalitres, more exactly 862-gigalitres.

  135. Sean April 18, 2011 at 10:33 pm #

    Go to the Lakes Need water web site click on Letters and Submissions. Under the Submissions section click on “Restoration With Vision” August 2009.

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