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The Left Mobilizes to ‘Save the Murray’

THE left in Australia can mobile very quickly with ‘Getup’ securing over 18,000 signatures on its petition to ‘Save the Murray’ since it launched the campaign just yesterday.

The letter they sent out is full of misinformation including comment that:

“The Murray Darling Basin has been sucked dry by decades of over extraction. Despite recent rain and floods the Murray Darling Basin is on the brink of ecosystem collapse. Already over 90% of the floodplain wetlands have been destroyed along with native fish and bird populations.”

I guess the truth has never stood in the way of a good campaign?


*************

Subject: They’ve resigned in protest
From: “GetUp!”
Date: Sat, May 21, 2011 5:22 pm
————————————————————————–

Dear Jennifer,

Today it was revealed that key scientists have walked away from the government’s Murray Darling Basin Authority process in protest.

Right now the Murray Darling Basin Authority is in the final stages of recommending how to deal with the water crisis in the Murray Darling. But shockingly, scientists tell us that the Authority is preparing to announce environmental water flows so low they won’t save our nation’s food bowl.
Worse still, the Authority has cancelled all independent scientific review of the Government’s Murray Darling plan in an attempt to cover up its lack of environmental credibility.

The Wentworth Group of Scientists have just resigned from the process in protest1 – but they need public support. That’s where GetUp members can make a difference. In a few weeks the Basin Authority will announce its plan. Let’s create a huge public petition to the Environment Minister,
Tony Burke, demanding that the Government bring back scientific review before it’s too late:

www.getup.org.au/campaigns/murray-darling/petition/save-the-basin

The Murray Darling Basin has been sucked dry by decades of over extraction. Despite recent rain and floods the Murray Darling Basin is on the brink of ecosystem collapse. Already over 90% of the floodplain wetlands have been destroyed along with native fish and bird populations.

Without a basis in science the basin plan could lock in the death of over a quarter of the iconic river red gums on the Murray. This would spell disaster for the internationally recognised wetlands on the river.

Scientists and sustainable famers can’t fix this situation alone. Their voices are being ignored. But if we all join with them, we can’t be ignored so easily. Sign this petition to call on Environment Minister Tony Burke to bring back the science:

www.getup.org.au/campaigns/murray-darling/petition/save-the-basin

We can’t let the opportunity to save our most precious waterways be wasted by bureaucrats wanting to take the easy option and ignore the science under pressure from the heavy irrigators. Please join the petition to help back up the scientists.

Thanks for taking action,
The GetUp team
*****************

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69 Responses to “The Left Mobilizes to ‘Save the Murray’”

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  1. Comment from: Debbie


    ROFL!!!
    I would love to see how they got that one in there!
    This report claims therefore that they pay $37,200 per year for 15ML of S & D water?
    The figs got seriously scrambled there between treated town water and S D water.
    If that figure was correct then no one could possibly farm. Commodity prices are not good enough to return per megalitre at that price.
    It is likely however that shortages and trading during the drought could have pushed the M L price up to that level or even higher for short periods of time. It certainly did here. In order to keep stock and permanent plantings alive, some farmers were forced to pay more than that at critical times in 2007/08/09.

  2. Comment from: Peter R. Smith OAM


    Hi Dennis,
    Your comment, “It made me angry that they could say the Basin is on the verge of ecological collapse and then censor the thread to exclude contrary opinion” also enrages me as people who don’t understand the Basin believe them!
    Hi Debbie & Susan,
    An explanation in my own words: -
    Many hundreds of years ago before white man invaded this country the River was able to flow as it had done for thousands of (probably millions) years winding its way from the source near the Great Dividing Range cutting its way into softer soils creating a river in places with 100’s of feet of cliffs on in some cases two sides but mostly on one side, also with wide flood plains.
    As this mighty River flowed out of the mouth, at times with much fury but alas sometimes the flow was reduced to little or nil.
    Depending on the magnitude of the flow the actual opening at the mouth moved quite a distance over that millions of years.
    At times like in the last 6 to 8 months (of record inflows) when the river ran a bumper, unheeded by dams, weirs, locks etc, the river flowed out into the Great Southern Ocean with fury flushing all sediments from all the way through the Rivers in our (now) Murray Darling Basin.
    As the River actually flowed it maintained the lakes as freshwater lakes though in times of extreme drought (like the last decade) the River was of course not powerful enough to restrict the inflow of seawater.
    At those times the tide was more powerful and at times seawater aquatic creatures were seen and caught as far upstream as Swan Reach –Tidal Flow.
    Then white man decided the growing of food would be made far easier if we irrigated but as the inflows could not always be counted on it was decided to build huge restrictions to the Rivers flow.
    As part of that building of dams, weirs, locks and then later the Snowy Mountain Scheme white man irrevocably altered the River.
    In the first plans it was decided to erect 26 Locks along the River but as this would have been far too time consuming and far more expensive than was first anticipated so the decision was, so as to keep the Lower River un-contaminated by seawater to build barrages restricting the flow to the Ocean.
    If the system had of been estuarine, right from the very beginning, the lakes would have been totally surrounded by a seawater environment with seawater flora and fauna and this is not the case.
    An estuarine environment is an environment that is at ‘ALL’ times brackish or saltier and non-potable for critical human needs and also the needs of irrigation.
    My point about the cost of getting of getting suitable irrigation water supplies is not about the price paid for the entitlement it is about the massive difference of using your own delivery system direct from the source or having it delivered by SA Water.

  3. Comment from: susan


    Nice fable you have going on there Peter, too bad it’s not supported by the facts.

    You might like to read this observation from a local Lakes resident…

    http://www.lakesneedwater.org/stuff/Lower_Lakes_Ecological_Character.pdf

  4. Comment from: Peter R. Smith OAM


    Hi Susan,
    Very interesting I had seen it before but read it at your request and I couldn’t find anywhere in the article reference to the Lakes being estuarine! Of course I may have missed it!

  5. Comment from: susan


    Hi Peter,

    Yes, you did miss it.

    The plants noted are generally found around areas that are estuarine or have been estuarine, that’s the point.

    So the graziers are taking advantage of plants that can grow around the Lower Lakes EVEN IF THEY WERE SALTY, OR ESTUARINE OR TIDAL… My turn to shout.

    And yet, the very same people who published this document are supporters of a fresh only regime of the Lower Lakes.

    Does that help?

  6. Comment from: Peter R. Smith OAM


    Hi Susan,
    Sorry I missed that, but no it really doesn’t help.
    The paragraph, “The disastrous ecological, social and economic consequences of acid sulphate soils, wind blown erosion of exposed lake bed, corrosion of structures, sand drift deposition along shore lines, emergency construction of bunds and regulators, slumping banks and impact on lakeside communities – all could have been avoided by opening the barrages appropriately to allow hydraulic connectivity between the ocean and the lakes and the development of a dynamic estuary at sea level for the duration of the drought” whilst is correct as to what occurred if people think that all of those problems could be solved by allowing seawater to invade the Lakes Alexandrina and Albert they are only partly right as one repair will bring a MAJOR problem.
    Seawater being allowed to mix with the freshwater below Lock 1 will because of a number of factors including wind seiching will render all water below Lock 1 un-potable and once again including SA’s main water supplies.
    I will continue to press for a, “Risk Assessment Impact Statement” into the construction of Lock Zero, refer http://www.psmithersmyriver.com/Lock Zero
    And once we have one scientific opinion contradicting another!

  7. Comment from: Peter R. Smith OAM


    Hi Susan,
    After reading the information of the link supplied I would point out the following from the paragraph, “The disastrous ecological, social and economic consequences of acid sulphate soils, windblown erosion of exposed lake bed, corrosion of structures, sand drift deposition along shore lines, emergency construction of bunds and regulators, slumping banks and impact on lakeside communities – all could have been avoided by opening the barrages appropriately to allow hydraulic connectivity between the ocean and the lakes and the development of a dynamic estuary at sea level for the duration of the drought.
    1) The acid sulphate soils – proven fact freshwater is more effective!
    2) Windblown erosion – any water will stop that!
    3) Corrosion of structures – freshwater best!
    4) Sand drift along shorelines – any water will stop that!
    5) Emergency construction of bunds and regulators – should never have been built!
    6) Slumping banks – to alienate this it would have meant as the River had dropped by over minus 1.0-metre below AHD at Mannum (a drop of over 2-metres) that we would have needed to raise the level of the River Murray by at least 1.5-metres ensuring that SA’s potable water was non-existent from all pumping stations below Lock 1, no irrigation below Lock 1, no water for stock and the death of all freshwater vegetation below Lock 1.
    And to repair my last comment on my previous post,
    And once again we have one scientific opinion contradicting another! Who do we believe?

  8. Comment from: Debbie


    But Peter?
    Your assertation that ‘any water will stop that’ completely ignores the problem that has sparked this whole debate. Especially when added to your second assertation that ‘proves freshwater is best’.
    You may believe that freshwater is best but you seem to have completely forgotten that in run of low inflow sequences there simply isn’t enough fresh water available to solve these problems.
    You have also completely ignored Susan’s point about the failure of environmental organisations to address the actual issue.
    If you thought my earlier comment was ‘spot on’ then you must have changed your mind about that too.

  9. Comment from: Peter R. Smith OAM


    Hi Debbie,
    The, “any water will stop that” were extremely minor problems during the drought years.
    You say, “you seem to have completely forgotten that in run of low inflow sequences there simply isn’t enough fresh water available to solve these problems” NO I HAVE NOT FORGOTTEN and I realise that during drought times there will be a deficiency of freshwater and it is a major problem that has to be overcome by consultation , the dialogue continuing between politicians, stakeholders, scientists and having political will.
    “The failure of environmental organisations to address the actual issue” is a real issue but ALL environmental organisations too converse with a will to succeed.
    Re, “spot on” you were but that doesn’t mean I agree with opening or removing the Barrages instead of seeking the implausible the option that will ruin the River Murray below Lock 1 it is about time all with that idea began to put as much pressure as possible on all politicians, the MDBA and all other stakeholders to for a RISK ASSESSMENT INTO THE CONSTRUCTION OF LOCK ZERO as before a salt water option is considered we MUST ensure potable water supplies.
    And please take note of my point 6) Slumping banks – to alienate this it would have meant as the River had dropped by over minus 1.0-metre below AHD at Mannum (a drop of over 2-metres) that we would have needed to raise the level of the River Murray by at least 1.5-metres ensuring that SA’s potable water was non-existent from all pumping stations below Lock 1, no irrigation below Lock 1, no water for stock and the death of all freshwater vegetation below Lock 1.
    Our vulnerability is the problem as we are at the bottom of the Basin but we are no less Australian stakeholders who must be considered.

  10. Comment from: Susan


    Peter,

    If you remember there was no freshwater to fix the problems you’ve numbered above. The MDB was down to it’s last 2500 GL for all the townships on the river. At that time 2000 GL needed to fill the lakes would have wiped everyone out.

    If the barrages are opened seawater comes in and maintains the Lake levels around sea level, or 0 m AHD. If you look at the bathymetry lake maps, at 0 AHD just about all the potential acid sulphate soils are covered by seawater. If they use the tides coming and going each day, and as you have told me many times the Lakes are ‘TIDAL’, they can keep the Lakes from going acidic.

    Check out this recent Catalyst video about how the Queenslanders have used seawater to mitigate their acid soil problems. http://www.abc.net.au/catalyst/stories/3221659.htm . SO YES SEAWATER DOES WORK.

    The problem with our local SA experts is that the government is dictating that the lakes have to be kept fresh, so when they look at the seawater and acid soil problem, they only ever look at it in a static way. They call for letting in just a bit of seawater and then letting it sit there. All with this idea that the seawater is something we have to get rid of.

    Again, I think a Lock Zero is a good idea since it gives that much more management control to the river.

  11. Comment from: Peter R. Smith OAM


    Hi Susan,
    I realise there was no freshwater to maintain a good pool level during the drought and it would have taken 1600-gigalitres to maintain +0.75 AHD but if Lock Zero were in place that figure would be reduced to about 500-gigalitres.
    If seawater were by tidal flow to invade the Lakes Alexandrina and Albert it would have helped negate the acid sulphate problem (this was the first time this have been a major problem) but freshwater is better – I don’t know why!
    A level of minimum + 0.3 or 0.4 AHD is a necessity to ensure all irrigation infrastructures can be maintained, all ferries can operate without huge ramps and wings and all boat ramps can be used.
    As for River Bank collapse, it’s not slumping, as in some places especially at Long Island Marina the amount of River Bank that has collapsed would be thousands of tonnes of River Bank and the only way to stop this by maintaining at least + 0.3 AHD it’s about pressure being maintain by hydraulic pressure from a maintained pool level!
    Before anybody or group discuss allowing seawater to invade there must first be a, “RISK ASSESSMENT INTO THE CONSTRUCTION OF LOCK ZERO” that risk assessment is an assessment not only into what would happen below Lock 1 but as a management option for the River Murray and the Murray Darling Basin.
    My group (of which I am the spokesman) will continue to oppose any action before a Risk Assessment!

  12. Comment from: Debbie


    You are still missing the point that Susan has been trying to make Peter.
    Your arguments are bouncing backwards and forwards and the only clear point you make is that you want the barrages to stay in place and that the Lakes should stay fresh.
    As Susan has said, this is essentially a pragmatic and political solution. It does not recognise the natural estaurine/tidal history of the lower lakes. Environmental groups are either misinformed or misrepresenting.
    They are attempting to frame an argument based on false assumptions.
    Susan has also explained that SA must have fresh water as it is essential to the natural environment as well.
    If SA truly wants a fresh water only solution then it needs to come up with ways to do so that does not involve shutting down upstream storages or endangering the Lakes or interfering with critical water supplies in low inflow sequences.
    SA also needs to be honest about the environmental consequences of that solution. Extra flushing will not solve the problems that have emerged there.
    Constant water pressure is also a bit of a Myth. You will only get that with extra storage and extra regulation. It has never really been naturally or consistently supplied from upstream. Letting the tidal prism back would give you a better chance of that.

  13. Comment from: Peter R. Smith OAM


    Hi Debbie,
    For goodness sake, YES I want the Barrages to stay in place; I want a risk assessment into the construction of Lock Zero as a management option for not only the Lower River Murray but the whole River Murray and the overall Murray Darling Basin.
    Everyone has a different option based on what they believe and the politicians are just stuffing around. If Lock Zero is an option and is constructed the River Murray between Lock 1 and Lock Zero can ensure at least a pool level of + 0.3 or 0.4 AHD ensuring full functioning of all infrastructure in that section and water can be pulsed into Lake Alexandrina (when available) to maintain a freshwater environment and when this is not possible some seawater can be introduced!
    Trying to tell me that, “Constant water pressure is also a bit of a Myth” is absolute bullshit the problems caused by the River Banks collapsing is caused by extremely low River pool level and has caused many Marinas millions dollars of damage, some sealed roads have cracked and dropped with the damage running into millions of dollars, pumping stations and power infrastructure has, because of bank cracking collapsed into the river, pump out stations along sections of the Lower River Murray have been closed or cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to repair, irrigation infrastructure has had to be moved, in some cases hundreds of metres from the river, boat ramps have cracked and are now unusable, some properties close to the banks are now no longer habitable, huge sections of public reserves have had to be closed and I could go on but overall the damage bill below Lock 1 will amount to many millions of dollars and no insurance cover is available! So Debbie give me a break I understand and if you would like some real proof come over and have a look I would be happy to give you a guided tour.

  14. Comment from: Debbie


    Those problems are not unique to below lock one Peter. Low levels caused problems all over the system.. Many $millions have been lost with no insurance. That’s why I made the comment about consistent water pressure being a bit of a Myth. There is nothing consistent about flow levels or pressure in the MDB. Tidal pressure would actually be more consistent for your end of the system.
    There are ways to improve this, but extra flushing is not one of them.
    Susan’s point about the environmental groups either being misinformed or perhaps misrepresenting the actual problem are valid.
    It is difficult to solve an issue if people are arguing about the wrong problem.

  15. Comment from: Peter R. Smith OAM


    Hi Debbie,
    As I said gimme a break, “That’s why I made the comment about consistent water pressure being a bit of a Myth” that is 100% absolute bullshit, especially below Lock 1. Anyone who believes that doesn’t know the Lower (below Lock 1) River Murray.
    Ha ha, “Tidal pressure would actually be more consistent for your end of the system” another load of bullshit, Debbie without a regulator at or near Wellington that would be a bloody disaster, how many more times do I have to explain that unregulated tidal flow into Lakes Alexandrina and Albert would completely destroy the economy and environment of the Lower River Murray.
    Whilst we are both looking for a suitable outcome you don’t understand my home section of the Murray Darling Basin and the River Murray.
    Artificial restrictions to the flow of the River Murray have allowed the Locks to maintain an artificial pool level ie, the pool level maintain upstream of most locks (it not all) on the River Murray have maintained the same River level as when Paddle Steamers plied there trade.
    Below Lock 1 this was impossible as I have tried to explain. At Grieger’s Landing 10-kilometres upstream of Swan Reach, during the height of the drought, I walked across the River not getting water to my waist and I am short!
    When I travelled to the Murray Darling Association AGM at Beechworth last September and displayed the large photos of River bank collapse, fallen infrastructure, cracked and dropping roads (not useable), houses that are not longer habitable, cracked in half and worse boat ramps and a great deal more all who viewed those photos couldn’t believe the damage that had been caused from Blanchetown to Wellington.
    Don’t play me for a fool I have lived on or near this River on and off for some 65-years and the banks I used to fish from as a child are no longer there!

  16. Comment from: debbie


    I’m not taking you for a fool Peter,
    I’m sorry you thought that.
    What I was trying to point out is that low levels (and then subsequent emergency water releases) caused similar problems all over the MDB. I guess the only place it didn’t was behind those locks on the Murray because the Murray was kept flowing throughout the whole drought.
    This would be despite the fact that if it had been left up to nature it would have completely dried up.
    Any other lake systems and several sections of the Darling, the Tumut, The Murrumbidgee, the Lachlan etc, all suffered from bank degradation and collapse. Some of them were very serious.
    The banks I used to fish from as a child are no longer there either.
    My point was that the problems you are referring to are not unique to your area in the MDB.
    You seem to have taken offence rather than understanding the point that Susan and I were making.
    It has all been changed Peter.
    It is mankind who has partly contributed to that change.
    “Mother Nature” has also had some say in this as well.
    Some of the changes that have been made by man and by mother nature have actually made things better. Some of them have made things worse.
    I am not a fan of people crying about specific areas where serious mistakes have been made (and in this case it is the lower lakes) and then pretending it’s because we’re environmental rapists.
    That is actually BS! That was Susan’s point!
    I also think it is counter productive to take productive resources away from areas where we have made things even more productive and habitable in order to throw more water at areas where there have been some serious mistakes made. On top of this we have environmental lobby groups pretending it’s because we need to ‘restore’ areas to their natural state?????
    Do you understand Susan’s point now?
    You need extra locks and weirs and storage down there Peter.
    We also need extra work to happen upstream.
    The problems developing down there are not solely because of upstream and the Eastern States. Most of SA’s problems and issues have been caused by local decisions.
    As I have argued many times, I personally think it’s wiser to reconnect the Coorong to its original water supply and also restore your lakes to their natural tidal prism/ estaurine condition. However, it should be up to South Australians to decide what needs to happen there. Just remember that if you need more fresh water then it will have to be sourced in other ways because the drought has just taught all of us that we don’t have enough back up storage to supply all demands in a run of low inflow years.
    No amount of politicking can produce water out of thin air Peter.
    If it’s not available, it just isn’t available.

  17. Comment from: Peter R. Smith OAM


    Hi Debbie,
    No it was only a dig!
    At some times during the drought there was no flow over Lock 1 and I realise if it weren’t for the Locks etc the River Murray would have dried up and then fortunately Mother Nature gave the country a much needed drink.
    Yes, I know it has been changed and much of that was us and it some cases we did not do a very good job.
    When I am talking banks along the River, the particular Bank collapsed and that collapse was over 200-meters long and 30-metres wide, massive!
    The term, “we’re environmental rapists” is not one I like either.
    The term, “On top of this we have environmental lobby groups pretending it’s because we need to ‘restore’ areas to their natural state” is bullshit as the only way we could do that is remove all flow regulators and dams and weir etc those bastards are mad!
    Firstly storages, the age old problem, whilst we have been talking about this for years sadly there is just nowhere in SA we can build extra storages.
    Our problems are our own not other peoples but when the Locks were planned there was to be 26 with no barrages and the Federal Government made the decision to finish building the Locks at lock 1 and construct the barrages so as to ensure SA’s freshwater supplies for the various requirements.
    It is really up to the MDBA to make decisions after the proper consultation and for the Federal Government to put whatever into place.
    This is a MDB problem but it is of mammoth problem and the decision is not an easy one.
    The previous Chairman of the MDBA, when he spoke at a gathering at Murray Bridge, talk about fluctuating the Lake levels and as I commented to him that cannot be done from Lock 1 and his answer we will need to look at your proposal for Lock Zero and that was the last I heard of it!
    I realise that when water is not available there will be trouble that is why we make the point: – During the drought when water flowed over Lock 1 it flowed all the way to the barrages and my example was a milk bottle of water flowing passed Wellington each day but if we had a Torrumbarry type Weir we could of held water and pulsed it into Lake Alexandrina pulsing through what was available and that could have been in cases millions of milk bottles of water.
    I believe the MDBA should request the Federal Government carry out a Risk Assessment into all facets of the construction of Lock Zero, it is no longer the umpires decision but a Risk Assessment for the MDB!

  18. Comment from: debbie


    Thankyou Peter,
    I do not agree however that we should leave it to the MDBA.
    Not unless there is far greater input from MDB communities and also from people who understand that it is more about sensible water management than ‘science’ and climate models.
    Hysterical reactions to a severe drought and ‘climate change’ theories has seen common sense fly out the window.
    Don’t forget Susan’s point about the failure of environmental lobby groups to address the actual problems as well.
    Also, I have seen plans to provide extra water storage in SA. It also possible, if there was the will to do it, to reconnect water that has been diverted out to sea on the south eastern areas of your state.
    There are ways to do it, there are plans to do it, there is unfortunately no political will.
    This is a great tragedy because we are failing to recognise that our inability to address these problems is also having severe environmental impacts.
    Inaction will jave just as many consequences as action. Action from false assumptions and attempts to solve the wrong problem with the wrong resources is the ultimate tragedy!
    It has never been a good idea, anywhere in the history of the world, to take productive resources away from good sustainable enterprises.
    It is an even worse idea to then use those resources to solve a problem that can’t be solved with those resources! That is just plain ridiculous.
    So far, that is all that this whole process has recommended and they’re using false information about our environment as their excuse to do it.
    Bad idea!

  19. Comment from: Peter R. Smith OAM


    Hi Debbie,
    It’s a MDBA decision as Lakes Alexandrina, Albert and the Coorong are within the MDB but of course there must be, “far greater input from MDB communities and also from people who understand that it is more about sensible water management than ‘science’ and climate models and re ‘climate change’ whilst I have done a great deal of work on ‘cc’ I am still not prepared to accept what the PM is saying.
    The “environmental lobby” have to be prepared to put in but realise everyone else must be heard and considered they are not the be-all and end-all of the final decision.
    Re SA storage I have been part of the Government discussions and I am not really happy with the comment we can construct extra storages but we can increase the size and walls of some of our storages.
    Re the water from the South East my mate is the person in charge of the investigations and he is telling me that over 100-kilometres of channels would need to be constructed but the amount of available water will not help the Coorong.
    If you send me your Email (mine is on my http://www.psmithersmyriver.com) I will send you the presentation delivered a week or so ago about what is being considered. I could also send you the SA monthly River Reports!
    Yes, “Action from false assumptions and attempts to solve the wrong problem with the wrong resources is the ultimate tragedy” is certainly a problem!

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