Report on Tumut flooding raises more questions than it answers

LAST December Snowy Hydro dumped water into the already flooded Murray-Darling, but said it had little choice.   A report just released by the NSW Office of Water clears Snowy Hydro but only in so much as it states that Snowy Hydro operated in accordance with its licence conditions.

At issue has always been whether these licence conditions were fair both to Snowy Hydro and those living and working in the Tumut and along the Murrumbidgee.    In particular did Snowy Hydro’s licence conditions, as enforced by the NSW Office of Water, oblige Snowy Hydro to make releases that contributed to the flooding?

According to the detail in the substance of the report:

The rainfall during 2010/11 also triggered repayment of water borrowed from the Snowy Scheme by irrigators in the Murrumbidgee Valley. This water was “borrowed” by individual irrigators, primarily in 2005, to supplement the very low allocations that were being experienced at that time.

These borrow arrangements generally involved Snowy Hydro agreeing to release more than RAR [Required Annual Release], which was then allocated to the individual irrigation participants in that year. The “borrowed” water was to be repaid by the participants to Snowy Hydro when certain allocation triggers were met.

In the Murrumbidgee Valley repayment was to commence when announced water allocations reached 50 per cent. The effect of these repayments is that the RAR for the Snowy-Tumut Development was reduced by the volume of water repaid, which was ultimately the full outstanding balance of the borrows being 204 GL. General Security water allocations reached 100 per cent in the Murrumbidgee Valley on 15 December 2010 and it was only at that point that it became certain that the full amount of the borrowed water would be repaid…

By the end of November 2010 the releases made by Snowy Hydro for the purposes of meeting its RAR [Required Annual Release] requirements were 785 GL. This occurred over seven months at an average monthly release rate of 112.14 GL.

As it was not possible at this time to assume full repayment of the borrowed water, the RAR for the full year was 1423 GL assuming full repayment of the DISV. This would mean a residual requirement to make releases of 638 GL. If no releases were made towards the RAR in December the required average releases for each of the last four months of the water year would be 159.5 GL.

Snowy Hydro’s assessment that making releases towards the RAR in December 2010 would have been problematic is reasonable for the following reasons:
• The forecast was for continuing wet conditions in the beginning of the 2011 calendar year. For the reasons discussed in Part 4.4.3 this may have restricted Snowy Hydro’s abilities to make releases from Jounama Dam.
• When Lake Eucumbene is at less than full capacity there are reductions in the capacity of the Tumut Pondage – Eucumbene-Tumut Tunnel that may have hindered releases of the required quantum being made.

Clause 13 of the licence allows the Office of Water and Snowy Hydro to, in any water year, agree to a reduced RAR. As inflows increased from September, the Office of Water and Snowy Hydro commenced discussions to reduce the RAR for 2010/11 to enable releases through the Snowy-Tumut Development to be reduced. Following the flooding a limited reduction to the RAR was agreed on 23 December 2010.”

So, up until 23 December 2010, was Snowy Hydro making releases into the already flooded Murray Darling at least in part because of obligations under its licence agreement with the Office of Water?

The report concludes that: “Overall the various agencies worked effectively together to manage inflows and releases from dams that assisted in mitigating the height and extent of flooding downstream.”

But this is not evident from the detail provided in the same report.

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Links and references:

A series of blog posts on the issue are here, scroll down for the full list:

http://jennifermarohasy.com/tag/snowy-hydro/

The NSW Office of Water review document can be downloaded here:

http://www.water.nsw.gov.au/Water-management/Water-availability/Flood-management/default.aspx#tumut

22 Responses to Report on Tumut flooding raises more questions than it answers

  1. Debbie August 20, 2011 at 8:10 pm #

    Yes of course they all did what they were supposed to do. That was never the issue!
    The question was always why did they keep trashing that water when there was nowhere to store it and after October 2010 no demonstrable environmental gain?
    They wasted water there was no need.
    Wasn’t it?

  2. debbie August 21, 2011 at 11:14 am #

    To put it even more bluntly:
    Maybe…just maybe…..
    Instead of blindly adhereing to the licence and attendant rules, they would have served us all better if they had yanked their heads out of their computers, stopped being hopelessly enamoured with their precious ‘long term’ models and ACTUALLY TOOK NOTICE OF WHAT WAS HAPPENING IN THE REAL WORLD????
    No one is arguing that they didn’t follow the rules…..they most certainly did follow the rules.
    The issue is that there was a fatal flaw in both the licence and the rules!
    ‘Adaptive management’ is a concept that is enshrined in the NSW Water Management Act. It is also a new ‘buzz phrase’ used by Knowles and Burke in recent times.
    Where oh where was the ‘adaptive management’ in this set of circumstances?
    Essentially…..they continiued to empty water out of the only place there was still some storage space into a system that was incapable of using it wisely because THERE WAS NO ROOM LEFT!!!!!
    Even the ‘philosphy’ behind the rules and the licence was not matching the circumstances at that time.
    It’s not rocket science you know.

  3. Mark A August 21, 2011 at 11:21 am #

    Debbie
    You can’t be prosecuted for following orders and rules, unless it happens in war and you were on the losing side.

    In the public service, initiative is death! (career wise that is)

  4. debbie August 21, 2011 at 12:07 pm #

    I know Mark A.
    Sadly that is a very insightful observation.
    BUT and this is a massive BUT!!!!!
    They were warned repeatedly long before this set of circumstances occured that this set of circumstances could occur!!!!!
    They were warned by NSWIC, all the Water infrastructure companies, NIC and many, many other smaller rep organisations…..including ours.
    They all agreed it could be a problem and even wrote many to and fro memos about it.
    But as you say…..no one BUT NO ONE was prepared to risk (career) death by actually taking some initiative.
    Once again…..what happened to the principle of ‘adaptive management’?
    Jennifer probably got it right when she originally said that these ‘men in suits’ were not personally affected by the consequences of their actions ( or maybe more correctly…. inactions?).
    The result is a disgraceful waste of a precious resource.
    Water likes to run downhill….they can’t now go and get it back.

  5. Ian Beale August 21, 2011 at 1:05 pm #

    Mark A

    I had my job interview many years ago for what was then the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Stock.

    In the course of that interview, when explaining the nature of the organisation, the interviewer explained that

    “It was a very thin line between initiative and insubordination” and made clear that

    – we were expected to walk it

    – if we overstepped it we would get our arses kicked

    – but that was not to deter us from keeping on testing that line.

    And the crew he hired got a hell of a lot of rangelands research done.

    Another take on this –

    In “Slide Rule” Neville Schute Norway observed that the most effective Royal Navy officers he saw in WW2 were of independent means and were thus not welded to the paycheque for their decisions.

  6. Mark A August 21, 2011 at 1:43 pm #

    Ian Beale

    And the crew he hired got a hell of a lot of rangelands research done.

    Ian, there are always exceptions to the rule, there will always be people who will
    test the thickness of the “fine line”, provided that the risks are exceptable.

    We probably never learn the full truth of what were the reasons behind the decisions of whether to release or not to release water were.

    I’m not saying and I’m sure Debbie isn’t saying either that those responsible were stupid or even negligent, simply that it was less of a personal risk to follow the rules than of taking initiative actions.

    Who knows? They may have thought that with more rain forecast, they needed the space?

    If only the Queensland engineers at Wivenhoe did the same, some harm
    may have been avoided, but different locations different circumstances, that’s why the “adaptive management” Debbie was referring to would have been so important.

    For that to work though, someone has to be given enough authority and
    indemnity in case of a wrong decision, to act.

    Will never happen.

  7. debbie August 21, 2011 at 6:32 pm #

    Good points Mark A and Ian.
    I guess the other worrying aspect of current water management is the insane idea that computer modelling and the use of ‘long term averages’ can facilitate a perfect set of static rules.
    When did our land ‘of drought and flooding rains’ ever respect long term averages?
    In fact, when did our waterways ever respect the bureaucratic definition of a ‘normal year’ ?
    Part of the problem with both Wivenhoe management and Eucumbene SHL management was the bureaucrats were faithfully following rules and licences designed for years of water shortage, based on a set of averaged figures that defined ‘normal’.
    They were simply not ‘adaptive’ enough to cater for the dramatic turn of events.
    Many of them also knew that it was a problem but were probably powerless to do much about it.
    The sad result of this report is it says that everyone did the right thing and they all followed the rules.
    The problem was actually the rules and the requirements of the licence not the fact that people were or were not doing their job….of course they were doing their job!
    As I said earlier, it’s not rocket science!
    Even sadder still, because of those rules, water was still being wasted down the Murray River right up until June this year.
    It wasn’t just about adding water to a flood (as silly as that is) it continued way beyond there and just resulted in senseless waste.
    It has also seriously interferred with the calculations of this year’s water allocations.
    NSW Murray Water Entitlement Holders are currently on 10% allocation.
    It’s all completely justifiable according to the rules (!!!!)
    Go figure that one out!

  8. jennifer August 22, 2011 at 9:50 am #

    from Max Talbot…

    The report is fairly comprehensive and demonstrates that Snowy Hydro were not releasing from Jounama above pre-SMA flows during the dates in question (Figure 13).

    However, the question that is not adequately answered is: what was done in the lead up to the event to minimise the amount of water released into Blowering and to mitigate against the need to release water from Jounama during the event? The forward management of Tumut Pond, Tooma and Talbingo Dams can be critical in flood mitigation. The evidence seems to be indicating that this was not optimum. The report virtually says a much at the top of page 32 when it talks about diversions to Tumut Ponds; excusing any shortfalls as not being a breach of the Licence – puts the adequacy of the licence into question.

    Also, why did it take until the 23 December for ‘the parties’ to agree on reductions in releases – bureaucratic incompetence! They are also hiding behind an interpretation of the Licence that the DISV must be paid back immediately; an action they have failed to justify. In my view you could equally argue that it does not need to be paid back until the following water year; in this case 2011-2012: and, even then it could be subject to agreement between the parties. Now we have proposed variations to the Licence, that go beyond the immediate DISV management issue; that provide Snowy Hydro with even greater flexibility over use of the Scheme’s water for electricity production and trading; to the detriment of optimum water management. I suspect that shareholding government treasuries are overriding their water colleagues, so as to maximise dividends from Snowy Hydro Ltd.

    Their conclusion that the various agencies worked effectively…….. is certainly questionable, as it took months to come to an agreement – that should have taken days or at most a couple of weeks – on DISV management. Symptomatic of wider problems?

    The statement that there is a degree of tension between electricity and water management is spot on. However, governments consistently ignore the concerns of water users and give greater weight to flexibility of water use for electricity production and associated dividends. This must change if we are to meet the water needs of an ever growing population and security of our food supply.

    That the review does not consider the current balance between water and electricity is certainly true. But having flagged an issue, it is incumbent on government’s to initiate such a review, so that everyone will be aware of where priorities lie.

    Regards,
    Max.

  9. Polyaulax August 24, 2011 at 5:28 pm #

    The report confirms the assessment I made at the time from real-time NOW data. A claim of water being ‘dumped’ into the flooding Murrumbidgee does not stand scrutiny. Data from Snowy Hydro shows that Tantangara,Eucumbene and Jindabyne dams all gained water throughout December.

    Blowering Dam was operated during the October flood [which was higher at Tumut than December’s flood peak] so as to entirely remove any contribution from the Tumut catchment above Blowering. IOW,that flood was from the Goobarragandra River and Gilmore Creek.

    December’s flood came when enormous catchment rainfall made buffering by Blowering no longer possible,but the high peak of that flood still came from the unregulated Goobarragandra.Figures 6 and 7 demonstrate this.

    Figure 9 demonstrates that SMA/NOW water via the Tumut had no effect on the Murrumbidgee flood peak at Gundagai and Wagga Wagga,and only very minor contribution to the second and lower peaks at the towns a few days later. The figure also reveals how significant the contribution of the unregulated catchment below Burrinjuck and Blowering Dams was in making the final height of the peaks.

    Figure 9 renders Max Talbot’s second paragraph above somewhat moot: note the pale blue line which is the Tumut River at Oddy’s Bridge,immediately below the dams outlet and spillway works. To provide significant headroom in Blowering by restricting hydro generation requires considerable time [and lost generation and revenue],because hydro generation does not transfer huge daily quantities relative to the peak natural flows generated by the rain events.Capacity constraint factors in the scheme tunnels means that hydro-electric operation cannot contribute huge flood flows,and has been established, most of the Tumut flood volumes of 2011 originated outside the Blowering catchment due to exceptional rainfalls,during which all-time records were established at many stations in the Tumut and Murrumbidgee catchments. The rationale for continuing transfers from Tooma Dam to Tumut Pond via the limited capacity tunnel was to reduce flooding in the Tooma Valley

    Inflows to and outflows from Blowering are shown in Fig.14,demonstrating the value of the dam to reducing the floods at Tumut. Fig.15 shows that Burrinjuck also operated in a way as to reduce peaks: Inflows exceeded outflow on peak day 4/12,and releases on the 5,6 & 8/12 ensured that the second peak contribution from the dam on 10/12 was lower than it would have been without management.

  10. Debbie August 24, 2011 at 9:02 pm #

    Gee whiz Polyaux,
    You seriously sound like one of the people who needed to yank their heads out of their computers and actually took some notice of what was really happening.
    Water was senselessly wasted and water was most definitely let into an overfull system in the name of the licence.
    I would also add that even if they can prove that their releases did not have an effect on the floods they most certainly did nothing to help either.
    This report just proves that everyone did what they were required to do. Of course they did!
    Polyaux you never explained how Eucumbene levels were lower in Dec 2010 than they were in Dec 2009.
    There is really one explanation isn’t there?
    The figures you are referring to only focus on a minuscule piece of the picture.

  11. Polyaulax August 25, 2011 at 2:28 pm #

    Why was Eucumbene [about 6.5%]lower in Dec 2010 than Dec 2009? I expect because SH generated more power and payed off some of the water backlog in the rainy conditions,and it takes quite some time and water to fill even 1%. IOW ,made money and met obligations. They have costs. Total system storage,though,was higher in Dec 2010 than Dec 2009,with Tantangara at 46% versus 7%,and Jindabyne at 84% versus 58%.

    You seem to happily conflate two separate issues when it suits you,Debbie.

    The first issue is what contribution to the two December floods was made by the SH ‘legalistically’ pursuing its right to generate electricity? The answer is in the report,which simply pieces together conveniently what was publicly available in real time during the events. The answer is none to the first Dec flood, and very little to the second [when you acknowledge that SH has no control over what enters the Tumut below Jounama Pondage, and NOW have no control over catchment flows entering below Blowering]

    The evidence utterly rejects both contentions in your second paragraph. Utterly. Please read the report before commenting. You can extract the volumes involved from the data supplied. SH complied with their obligations at Jounama. They shut down the Tumut system,which at full bore can supply about 9.3GL/day. Fig 14 shows inflows versus outflows from Blowering. Inflows on the 10th were about 9GL,on the 11th,31 GL,12th/31GL,13th/20GL. That was all runoff from the Tumut itself and Blowerings surroundings.Despite being full,Blowering held back about 50% of that from the flood at its highest.

    Check the flood volumes at Gundagai and Wagga on the x-axis in the various graphs: they dwarf anything that SH could add from their small percentage of catchment through the limited capacity of their tunnel systems. None of the SH’s generation transfers went over Blowering in the first event,and a vanishingly small amount in the second. Note also that 40-50% of flood volume at Gundagai and Wagga was generated by undammed tributaries of the Murrumbidgee [below Burrinjuck] and Tumut [below Blowering],such as Jugiong Creek,Muttama Creek,Adjungbilly Creek,Adelong and Tarcutta Creeks..

    The first issue is completely addressed by the report. How could you say that that is just a ‘miniscule part of the picture’?

    The second issue,-which is not within the scope of the report-, is should we reign in SH’s right to generate power over the year and subordinate it to the saving of water,because that is what would provide you with your ideal of a fuller Eucumbene. Should we? If so,by how much? Do we ask SH to forgo half/quarter/x each days generation in order to refill Eucumbene,and how long would it take to raise the dam to an agreed acceptable level before the restraint is lifted? What are the costs to SH and the implications for the price of electricity? Eucumbene is very large: 1% capacity is about 44GL. If an agreement was struck to send a hypothetical 5GL/day back to Eucumbene from the upper Tooma/Tumut,it would take three months to add 10% to the volume. 5GL represents around 7.5 hours of Tumut 2 tailrace discharge at full capacity.

    You will be happy to know that the system is wet enough for Eucumbene to be 20% better off than 12 months back,and 13% up on last December.

  12. Debbie August 25, 2011 at 7:27 pm #

    Polyaux,
    Do you understand how the RAR DISV part of the licence worked?
    SHL would have preferred NOT to have released that water at that time.
    The licence had a fatal flaw that resulted in a senseless waste of water and overfilled the downstream storages well before December.
    The damage was done well before the period you are focusing on.
    Every one followed the rules even though it became obvious in October that there was a problem.
    Eucumbene was emptier in Dec 2010 because the licence deemed it so.

  13. Polyaulax August 25, 2011 at 10:12 pm #

    I need to correct a statement I made in my last comment. In my first comment I correctly distinguish the October flood and the December flood,but in my second comment I mistakenly move the October flood into December.

    Debbie, you seem to be ignoring the data.There was no ‘obvious’ problem in October. Winter and Spring were wet,and Blowering began to fill steadily for the first time in years. Blowering was at 90% full when the October flood event started,and it entirely buffered any contribution from SHL and any uncontrolled catchment above the dam wall. That is the history.The 3.3m flood at Tumut,which was higher than December’s,came entirely from catchment BELOW the dam.

    Earlier,in early September 2010,a flood went through Tumut,with a double peak just below 3m. As in October,Blowering water did not contribute to the flood,which again was generated by heavy rain immediately downstream of the wall,and in the Goobarragandra R. and Gilmore Creek catchments. The reason why Blowering did not contribute was straightforward: it was just over 70% full at the start of that month.

    Above average rainfall was filling Blowering from winter 2010 onwards,two floods from the upper Tumut were completely buffered by the reservoir [along with many minor freshets in November and December]. After the October flood,dam discharge was raised to the maximum possible to attempt to establish and maintain some flood buffer without causing downstream flooding. However ,the very wet November,made establishing a large buffer difficult.

    Unfortunately,December 2010 in the Tumut River catchment was the wettest ever recorded since Blowering was constructed.Despite this,and a full dam, good management kept the Blowering contribution to the third flood down to just less than half the flood’s volume at Tumut. Eucumbene’s contribution to this half was very small.

    The report states that the RAR releases through to November averaged some 112GL each month,or about 3.7GL/day. The report seems to imply that this average volume was continued in December,except for the flood period,then amended downwards by agreement on 23/12/2010. NOW figures show that net inflow to Blowering Dam to the end of November was 1700GL,of which the report suggests the RAR constituted 785GL. Blowerings volume is 1630GL. What do you think the RAR should have been set at,Debbie?

  14. Polyaulax August 25, 2011 at 11:29 pm #

    Sorry,RAR averaged some 112GL/month for SEVEN MONTHS in that period to end November cited in the report. Oh,and Blowering held about 500GL at the beginning of 2010. So,add the net inflow to end November of 1700GL,to get 2200GL,which means that around 600GL was discharged from the dam over the year to end November,at which date the dam was nearly full. It could be argued that most of the RAR had been passed from the dam by the time of the only flood of the year that found the reservoir short of headroom.

    Hypothetical follows: IF agreement had been struck to lower the daily RAR from early in 2010,and IF it had been lowered to,say, 2GL/day for the seven months,to amount to 430GL to end November,and IF November discharges were made at identical rates to the real ones [very unlikely in my opinion,because lower daily RAR would relieve the urgency of discharging the reservoir at maximum possible],then yes ,there would have been more headroom in Blowering,sufficient to extinguish most contribution to the December flood…which still would have been at moderate levels at Tumut and downstream because of the unregulated contributions of Goobarragandra,Gilmore and other lower Tumut tributaries. And the effect on levels at Gundagai and Wagga would have been zero on the first peak [it came before Tumut waters arrived] and negligible on the second.

    But that’s a hypothetical with a lot of IFs to line up…

  15. Debbie August 26, 2011 at 10:31 am #

    I would simply like to see the principle of adaptive management.
    The current mindset is all about shortages and an unrealistic definition of ‘normal’ which is derived from computer generated ‘long term averages’.
    As much as the data you’re referring to sounds plausible, it completely ignored what was actually happening.
    Water runs downhill Polyaux.
    The figures that were released pre December are quite significant amounts. Convert your GL to ML.
    The DISV & RAR rules were inflexible and resulted in a senseless waste of water. Despite everyone’s insistence that it did not excacerbate the flooding it most certainly did not help.

  16. debbie August 26, 2011 at 2:28 pm #

    Further to my last comment:
    At the same time that the media was screaming about water saving initiatives and unsuspecting people were being fined or shamed in the media for watering their lawns on an even day instead of an odd day or before 6pm at night and that irrigators were responsible for all the environmental disasters in the MDB etc etc etc etc….
    Our own Water Bureaucracies were stupidly wasting (by your figures) 3,700ML a day because of the flaw in their licence agreements. (that 3.7GL is not accurate BTW)
    Polyaux….do you understand how mindlessly ridiculous that is?
    Do you also understand how many farmers’ yearly water allocations that is.. EVERY SINGLE DAY… or for that matter how many thousands of lawns that could have been watered EVERY SINGLE DAY!
    Being rather dismissive about significant amounts of water and what they actually represent to people does not really put you in a good light.
    As I have previously stated, all those figures and all those reports (including this one) are completely plausible on the surface and they do indeed prove that everyone did what they were supposed to do according to the rules. I have no argument with that.
    What they don’t do….and what you are ignoring in a most disingenious manner…..is recognise that the circumstances at the time called for management and decisions that relied on some common sense and also recognised that the developing circumstances did not fall within the parameters of those licences.
    Further…all the relevant parties were repeatedly warned that these circumstances were fast developing (as you point out from Sept ’10) and NO ONE actually did something pro active about it.
    The result?
    An average of 4000ML per day was dumped into a system FOR MONTHS….right up until JUNE 2011 on the Murray side….for no demonstrable gain for anyone or anything (including the environment).
    Has it also occured to you Polyaux that if it is proven by these reports that they had no significant influence on the worst of the flooding then these releases obviously had no significant influence on anything whatsoever?
    So why on earth did they keep releasing it? What good was it doing?
    The water should have been left at the top of the system to be used wisely at a later date when some real benefit could have been derived from it….including producing power at optimal times for SHL.
    It’s not rocket science you know.

  17. Confused August 26, 2011 at 3:16 pm #

    Debbie – Just looking on the Office of Water website and I can’t seem to find your submission on the Proposed Variations to the Snowy Water Licence? The variations are to do with how Snowy Hydro will manage accumulated DISV and I would have thought that either you, or the group you represent would have wanted to contribute constructively to this issue?

  18. Polyaulax August 26, 2011 at 11:21 pm #

    We have gone from awful drought to overabundance in one season,an amazing turnaround. There is now excess water on the south-western slopes. Blowering filled last year,so almost 1200 GL is in the bank that was absent in 2009. Likewise Burrinjuck filled as well; it was down at about 35% in May 2010,so there’s about 650GL in the bank there now. Both irrigation dams filled,and,despite management through November both ran low on headroom when the huge wet of December occurred.

    The water being sent down the Tumut as RAR,785GL over seven months,is a lot of water ordinarily,but was not that much compared with total runoff for that period.To end November 2010,a cumulative 3000GL went past Wagga Wagga,to the end of December the total was 5000GL/5,000,000ML! Add to that 5000GL the savings in Blowering and Burrinjuck [1800GL] and the savings in the Canberra water supply system,all the dams of which filled completely.That’s another 150GL assuming they were 25% full at the start of 2010. Add all that together and you can see how much water the catchment generated in 2010 –and how much HAS been saved.

    By contrast,the entire system yielded only 1250GL for all of 2009 at Wagga,950GL in 2008 and about 900GL in 2007…

    I’m yet to figure out how much of the water in 2010’s RAR came from Eucumbene and Tooma transfers,and how much was generated withing the Tumut catchment.The contribution from the latter would have been very significant.Also remember that an important amount of Eucumbene water is derived from the upper Murrumbidgee via Tantangara,so it’s water that would have gone to Burrinjuck if that structure and tunnel did not exist. And the water was generating electricity on the way through.

  19. debbie August 27, 2011 at 9:49 am #

    Polyaux,
    It is not an amazing turnaround….that is also disingenious.
    It is quite normal for our climate to do as it has done in the last 12 to 24 months.
    That’s part of the problem…the bureaucratic definition of ‘normal’ is failing to recognise that normal is actually highly variable.
    When did our land of drought and flooding rains ever respect computer generated ‘long term averages’? There really isn’t such a thing as ‘normal’ when we attempt to manage inflows and climate variables in the MDB.
    That’s why we need ‘adaptive management’.
    The problem is and remains the inflexibility of the rules and the licences.
    Yes….some water HAS been saved.
    Just imagine HOW MUCH MORE could have been saved if some common sense was operating?
    I don’t know how much you understand about allocations etc….but this has also adversely affected allocation announcements for 2011. Because so much water was just wasted ….the Murray GS Allocation is still only at 10%.
    The DISV RAR rules have directly influenced that calculation.
    So…in a year like this… when we all know there is no shortage of water…there is still an insane adherence to rules and regulations that do not recognise what is actually happening out there.
    You also need to remember that even SHL would have preferred NOT to have released the water at those times and in that manner.
    They just had to follow those inflexible rules along with everyone else.
    There is no escaping the fact that water was wasted Polyaux.
    There is also no escaping the fact that it was wasted into a system that was already at full capacity (as your own figures prove very well).
    There is also no escaping the fact that their releases did nothing to help mitigate the flooding.
    You can prove the releases may not have added much….that was never the point…ever.
    To pretend that was the point is being totally dismissive of all the people who have been impacted by this ….including those poor people who were flooded many times over!
    It wasn’t just a December event….that was just the most devastating of a series of damaging floods that began in earnest in October 2010 but had their origins in September 2010.
    RAR DISV were a major contributor to the management of storages.

  20. Polyaulax August 27, 2011 at 12:25 pm #

    It IS an amazing turnaround,even compared with past extremes. Last year we saw the end of the worst of the three big Murray Basin droughts of the last 110 years ,and the wettest spring on record for the south-west slopes,which featured the wettest December recorded in the upper Murrumbidgee. There is 1800+GL added to the the bank in the irrigation dams [now holding 2600GL],and Eucumbene itself is over 500GL up from the end of 2010.

    If a hypothetical strategy to reduce SHL generating capacity had been followed through much of 2010,it would have had NO influence on the September and October floods in the Tumut Valley because NOW shut down Blowering releases ENTIRELY: there was very little water in the river channel.In fact,less than would be likely in a no-dam scenario,with typical spring run-off! So,the foregone generation would be for nought.

    The December event at Tumut featured a fuller channel because NOW was emptying Blowering as fast as possible through November without breaking the banks,yet,such were inflows,they could not entirely minimise the flood,though they cut its height considerably from a no-management and no-dam scenario result. And the effect of that modest Blowering spill translated only into a very tiny contribution to the lower second peak in the Murrumbidgee.As for this “never [being] the point..ever”,I suggest you re-read the history of posts on this matter at this blog,as well as the regional media coverage of the time!

    Water sharing regulations are complex because needs are complex.They are not inflexible,however, and are always re-assessed as the seasons progress. Mentioning only general security entitlements does not provide the full picture.MDBA states that GS entitlements are very likely to be at 100% by end October,and in the meantime supplementary entitlements are available for along the length of the Murray and Murrumbidgee.

    “There is no escaping the fact that their releases did nothing to help mitigate the flooding” No matter how often you make this claim,it does not become true. Read the report. It shows you that the people who have been ‘flooded many times over’ were not flooded by SHL activities,and in fact,where SHL and NOW could influence flood height they reduced it!

  21. debbie August 27, 2011 at 4:15 pm #

    No it doesn’t Polyaux,
    It just shows that everyone followed the rules and that no one did anything wrong according to the rules and the licences.
    What it doesn’t explain is that those rules and those licences had a fundamental flaw in them.
    NOW and SHL were repeatedly warned by numerous different organisations as well as many residents on the rivers that a problem was developing but they did not do anything about it until it was too late.
    Of course they did what little they could when things got desperate…BUT IT WAS TOO LATE!!!!!!!
    The simple fact that they FINALLY pulled up this nonsense on the Murrumbidgee side in late December is further proof of that.
    The sad part of this tale is that there were too many layers of bureaucratic regulations to stop the nonsense on the Murray side.
    That is now affecting people adversely.
    I have to laugh at your ‘likely to be 100% by end of October’ argument.
    Considering how much water is all over the place ….how completely silly is that?
    If the dams are too full of other water….which is their excuse BTW…..why is that do you think?
    Hint…they’re not allowed to count excess inflows from ‘Mother Nature’ :-)…that’s called supplementary water, (sometimes ‘off allocation’ water) or even environmental water and is not part of the water in storage… 🙂
    Your comment is displaying a complete ignorance of farming practices and the needs of the people who actually pay the bills of those very same bureaucrats.
    Do you actually understand when irrigators would need to know about their allocations so they can use their allocations productively?
    A little hint….it’s before the end of October 🙂

  22. debbie August 28, 2011 at 1:48 pm #

    Polyaux,
    re ‘the dramatic turnaround’.
    None of us who have access to historical records thought it was surprising that a drought was followed by an excessive wet.
    It is quite common for that to happen.
    Also…if it was a historical drought then it was quite reasonable to be prepared for it to be followed by a historical wet.
    It also further illiustrates that the rules and licences were not flexible enough to cope with what was really happening rather than what the computer models said should be happening.
    And Confused,
    Our ‘organisation’ contributed to submissions via other rep organisations like NSWIC etc.
    We also asked if we should put in a seperate submission and we were advised that it was not necessary.
    You may be correct however that perhaps we should not have listened to that advice and put in our own seperate submission.
    We will learn from that mistake…I sincerely hope NOW and SHL learn from theirs!

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