New Murray Darling Basin Plan Based on Meaningless Averages

THE Murray-Darling Basin Plan can’t deliver anything tangible and meaningful for communities, industry or the environment while its water sharing plans are based on averages.

Averages are a meaningless concept in the real world given the highly variable nature of Australian rainfall. 
The draft plan identifies 10,873 gigalitres as the maximum amount of water on water that can be “sustainably” extracted from the Basin on average each year.

But this number is a product of politics, not science, and has no real meaning in terms of river health.

The draft plan acknowledges the highly variable nature of the system – Schedule 1 explains annual inflows to the Basin in the past 114 years have ranged from a high of 117,907GL in 1956 to only 6740 GL in 2006 – and
notes this natural variability of flows is important to Basin ecology.

Yet this variability is then ignored in arriving at one number: the sustainable diversion limit of 10,873GL based on a calculated average inflow to the entire Murray Darling Basin of 31,599GL.
The draft plan gives the impression there has been gross over-allocation of this average inflow by claiming on average only about 12,000GL reaches the Murray Mouth – hinting that much more water should flow out the Murray ‘s Mouth to the sea.

But not only is an average value in such a naturally variable system somewhat meaningless, the value of 12,000GL is misleading because construction of the 7.6 kilometres of barrages across the Murray River’s estuary (just upstream of the mouth) in the 1930s has in itself reduced flows to the Murray Mouth by 75 per cent – additional to any reduction from upstream diversions for irrigation.

Indeed this derived average value of 12,000GL would be much larger if it was measured at Wellington in South Australia where the Murray River enters the terminal coastal lakes, now known as the Lower Lakes.

The reality is not all water flowing into the Murray-Darling Basin should be expected to reaches the Murray River, let alone its mouth. 
For example, the Lachlan River is part of the Murray Darling Basin but in most years contributes no water to the Murray River because it naturally flows into a swamp.

British explorer Charles Sturt eloquently explained the nature of the system decades before the development of any irrigation writing that Australian rivers tend to “naturally fail before they reach the coast, and exhaust themselves in marshes or lakes; or reach it so weakened as to be unable to preserve clear or navigable mouths, or to remove the sand banks that the tides throw up before them”.

The draft plan also fails to acknowledge the role of storages in providing water during drought. In fact as a consequence of the increase in storage capacity (i.e., dams) over the last 50 years, the water level in the Murray River is unnaturally high for much of the length of the river, most of the time.

But this reality is ignored because it makes a mockery of the concept of over-allocation that is an assumption underpinning the entire rationale for the Water Act under which the plan has been drawn up. 
The draft plan reduces the concept of river health to a single number – the sustainable diversion limit of 10,873GL – but it is unclear how deriving this number from meaningless averages in a highly variable system will benefit the environments of the Murray Darling.

Indeed, it will do nothing to solve the problems of the Lower Lakes during drought – problems that are a consequence of the 7.6km of concrete barrage.

This new sustainable diversion limit is meant to mean more freshwater for these lakes but it is seawater, not freshwater, that the lakes really need if they are to be returned to ecological health and the Murray River ‘s estuary restored. Indeed how can the new draft plan purport to be about delivering an improved Murray River environment when it totally ignores the need to restore the Murray River ‘s estuary?

The draft plan is essentially a political document reflecting a popular myth in urban Australia that the ailing health of the system has been caused by greedy irrigators taking water from the river.

In arriving at a single number of 10,873GL and then extrapolating to suggest that this means an additional 2750GL must be taken from irrigators, the draft plan reinforces the false perception that irrigators always take a set volume of water from the system.

In reality the amount of water diverted for irrigation has always been highly variable with most irrigators receiving a small fraction of their licence entitlement during periods of drought.

Development of the draft plan was overseen by politicians; in particular Murray Darling Basin Authority boss and Labor party veteran Craig Knowles. 
Perhaps it’s now time different politicians got more involved, in particular that NSW Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner deliver on his promise in last week’s The Land and tosses the whole nonsense document out.

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

First published in The Land on December 1, page 8 under the title ‘Averages Meaningless to Murray’.

For more stories on the new Basin Plan go to http://theland.farmonline.com.au/specialfeature.aspx?id=5779

84 Responses to New Murray Darling Basin Plan Based on Meaningless Averages

  1. debbie December 1, 2011 at 11:01 am #

    Well done Jen,
    If anyone doesn’t think this is more about politics than anything else….check out this link:

    https://sites.google.com/site/nswmgcc/hot-news-1/creanscrumbs

    This one:
    http://www.canberratimes.com.au/specialfeature.aspx?id=5780

    this one:

    http://blogs.abc.net.au/nsw/2011/11/1230-abc-riverina-news-30112011.html

    I was actually present at the meeting he refers to here.
    He has totally misrepresented what was discussed, obviously for political mileage.
    We did not say there wasn’t a problem, we argued the problem is NOT the one he is sprouting all over the place.
    We clearly stated we want to help achieve a balance and a good outcome for all involved.
    He also said that he thought our views had hardened….
    Gee whiz Mr Burke! After over 12 months of trying desperately to insert some common sense and truth into this process…..I wonder why we have hardened??????

    this one:

    http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/politics/farmers-fall-silent-while-food-brings-home-bacon-20111129-1o4zo.html

    And of course numerous others.

    At what point in time did farming became socially unacceptable as a profession?
    Read the comments section of any online news article and farmers are copping the type of abuse usually reserved for parking inspectors, Japanese whalers and Pauline Hanson.

    As one email commented to me recently….with total tongue in cheek….but furious that good people are being used as political footballs:

    After all, farmers are virtually raping the land. Day in, day out, farmer Joe gets up out of bed, has a good stretch, and thinks “How can I abuse my farm today in such a way that I know it will be useless by the time I pass it on to my grandkids? I must make sure that the soils cannot regenerate, and that there’s absolutely no water left in the system.”
    Farmers behave selfishly with little regard for the rest of the nation. Just imagine how much better off we’d be without them?

    Thank you Jen for exposing this nonsense for what it really is….politics and nothing else.

  2. Marc December 1, 2011 at 2:33 pm #

    Dear Jennifer- perhaps it would be good to declare your interest in the irrigation industry. P.S. your understanding of the geomorphology and biological history of the lakes near the mouth of the Murray should be further investigated. For instance are you aware that the location of the barrages follow a limestone ‘land-bridge’ that was used by the local aboriginal tribe, long before European occupation, largely separating salt and sweet water?

  3. John Sayers December 1, 2011 at 2:45 pm #

    Jen , Alan Jones has been onto this all. the past week – he has farmers ringing up angry and totally baffled by this report. They see it as a direct attack by city bureaucrats on their livelihood and their towns and businesses. He reckons it’s Jay Weatherill that’s calling the shots for the lower Murray.

  4. toby robertson December 1, 2011 at 3:51 pm #

    Dear Marc, whilst I do not disagree any vested interest should be declared I seriously doubt you hold all those climate scientists who rely on the C in CAGW to the same standards?
    If they actually voiced the fears they express in their “confidential “emails and declared that the funding for their research has come straight from governments with specific outcomes or focus in mind, I might actually trust what they say……
    Anybody with contacts in universities knows full well that there is an agenda in play and if you dont play it, you dont get funding. Group think is everywhere and climate change has more than its share of group think. Try and get funding if you dont link your research to CAGW!

    And seriously…… do you really trust the IPCC and their processes?! If you arent sceptical you arent thinking

    How far up the Murray have mulloway been caught pre barrages?…do they live in fresh water?

  5. toby robertson December 1, 2011 at 3:57 pm #

    Anybody who hasnt seen this clip from a young man who has been taught to think critically, should seriouly watch him demolish the MDBA….
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NrzTfLmbrJ4

    he also has a number of other “unpopular views” that demonstrate how stupid or ignorant or corrupt our politicians, scientists and media.. and therefore our general population have become/ or are (we’ve probably always been this way!?)

  6. jennifer December 1, 2011 at 4:17 pm #

    Marc

    Info on natural history of the region here: http://www.quadrant.org.au/blogs/doomed-planet/2010/11/jennifer-marohasy and visit http://www.lakesneedwater.org for a more general overview and links to key technical papers.

    And there is no limestone land-bridge! But the local dairy farmers, who have a vested interest in keeping the barrages in place, make up these sorts of tales and tell them to the gullible.

    And I have no current commercial interests in the irrigation industry.

  7. spangled drongo December 1, 2011 at 5:18 pm #

    “For instance are you aware that the location of the barrages follow a limestone ‘land-bridge’ that was used by the local aboriginal tribe, long before European occupation, largely separating salt and sweet water?”

    Marc, that would be the ‘land-bridge’ that prevented the salt water from reaching the Darling back in the days of Sturt and Mitchell then, would it?

    Where did you say it was exactly?

  8. Susan December 1, 2011 at 5:49 pm #

    Just 11 years ago this report “River Murray Barrages Environmental Flows” from the MDBC in 2000 recommends ‘moving’ the barrages back to near Wellington to increase the estuary size to something closer to historical norms to have a ‘healthier’ Lower Lake environment. http://thelivingmurray2.mdbc.gov.au/__data/page/1482/full_barrages.pdf

    Imagine an entire report just about the barrages, environmental flows, and the environmental damage done by insisting on this freshwater only water regime. The whole purpose of the current MDBA excercise is for environmental flows, right?

    Now in 2011, the current MDBA report only mentions the barrages a couple of times and then only in passing.

    Tony, I have some Mulloway information here http://www.lakesneedwater.org/facts/mulloway-in-the-lower-lakes-and-coorong . Also, here is a newspaper article from 1930, a ‘low river’ year, and it’s reported that in one session they caught one ton of mulloway near the mouth of the Finniss River in just one day.

  9. toby robertson December 1, 2011 at 6:33 pm #

    Thx Susan ,

    from your last link “Freshwater flows attract mature mulloway from the sea back to the estuary. A lack of freshwater flows and over-fishing has been blamed for a diminished mulloway catch. However, when the barrages were closed in 1940, not only did they create a barrier for the mulloway, the barrages effectively took away 89% of the estuarine habitat used by juveniles.
    How much blame for the Mulloway’s demise goes to a lack of freshwater flows, and how much should go to habitat destruction?
    Can we restore the estuary and bring back the Mulloway?”

    two good questions…..

    my question was actually rhetorical in nature (to Marc) ..if the barrages are the “sweet spot” where the water was fresh…why were so many fish caught so consistently in these fresh water areas when mulloway live in coastal environments and are not caught in waters that are always fresh?!

  10. spangled drongo December 1, 2011 at 6:39 pm #

    DIARY ENTRIES OF EXPLORERS
    Charles Sturt:

    Darling River near Bourke 1828 –
    “The trees that overhung it (the river) were of beautiful and gigantic growth. Its banks were too precipitous to allow of our watering the cattle, but the men eagerly descended to quench their thirst……..nor shall I ever forget the cry of amazement that followed their doing so, or the looks of terror and disappointment with which they called out to inform me that the water was so salt as to be unfit to drink! This was, indeed, too true: on tasting it I found it extremely nauseous”.

    Hard to imagine that this was from the ocean but salt water is natural in the MDB.

  11. Dave Shorter December 1, 2011 at 9:33 pm #

    There is no issue that shows the moral decline of the Labor Party more starkly than the MDB plan.
    Locking a self evidently renewable resource away from self evidently sustainable production of goods that humans cannot live without,in order to send fresh water to the Southern Ocean!Spare me!
    This is a battle about moral virtue.We have to convince people that production for human need has greater moral virtue than sending fresh water to the Southern Ocean.

  12. Ian Thomson December 2, 2011 at 7:43 am #

    Hi Debbie,
    One of the weapons being used in this process is to belittle the inland communities and farmers involved, as you say.

    Griffith is routinely referred to in news bulletins and ABC commentaries as ” the irrigation town “, or “the country town” . Presumably that is the sort of hick town that the farmers head to, after a hot day’s raping.

    Griffith , for those from elsewhere , is a Walter Burley-Griffin designed CITY, based an food production. He designed another city too – It is a major growth centre , based on the production of bulldust and spin.

  13. David Joss December 2, 2011 at 8:55 am #

    Susan @5:49pm, Dec 1,
    Thank you for the link to the 2000 MDBC report. The summary says it all:
    “In summary the Panel found that the current
    operating system for the Lower Lakes, Coorong
    and Murray Mouth is not sustainable with
    continued significant environmental degradation
    expected. In particular, it is anticipated that
    there will be increasing problems in both the
    lakes and the Coorong related to reduced
    through flows, increased sedimentation and
    accumulation of nutrients.”
    Wonder if it’s why we no longer have a MDBC.
    An article in the Adelaide Advertiser on 31 March 1903 said salt water fish were being caught “right up to Morgan.”

  14. Marc December 2, 2011 at 8:55 am #

    Jennifer, interesting response.

    ‘And there is no limestone land-bridge! But the local dairy farmers, who have a vested interest in keeping the barrages in place, make up these sorts of tales and tell them to the gullible.’

    Perhaps you should consult with the local Ngarrindjeri community, or perhaps I should have asked them if their ancestors were able to walk on water!

    Furthermore, it appears that local dairy farmers around lower Murray, who are irrigators, are clearly a lower or lesser class or irrigator to those up stream in ‘your’ part of the world (and where you work) in your mind? However I do understand your need to remain on the good side of your potential employers.

  15. debbie December 2, 2011 at 9:10 am #

    Dear marc,
    Perhaps it would be good if you declared your position and where you derive your income from?
    I seriously suspect (but of course can’t say for sure) that I pay some of your wages because I am a food and fibre producer and a tax payer.
    Your smarmy references to ‘conspiracies’ by vested interests and trying to smear Jen with those underhand inuendos are completely laughable.
    You are welcome to contribute to this debate from ‘your side of the fence’ but how about you lay off the stupid pseudo intellectual and totally unsubstantiated inuendos?
    Speak to the issues and pay attention.
    Jen has clearly pointed out that this MDBP is based on false assumptions and has no practical Environmental Watering Plan.
    She also points out that the wish to keep the Murray Mouth open with fresh water is also not substantiated by historical fact or sound environmental science.
    She even supplied a link for you when you did make one actual reference to that land bridge.
    You however, choose to try and smear her work and irrigation farmers in one fell swoop by making spurious comments about where people’s income is derived from.
    You do realise that is truly not an intelligent argument don’t you?
    You are advancing ‘conspiracy theories’.
    It is easy for people like me to say the same thing happens on ‘your side of the fence’…. way too easy.

    I would also add, after being in the primary industry sector for 30 + YEARS, that I have NEVER seen a centralised bureaucracy successfully manage ANYTHING that is related to farming and the environment. THEY HAVE A HORRIBLE HISTORY OF COMPLETE STUFF UPS!!!!!
    Instead of recognising that, they are now trying to blame ‘the farmers/irrigators’ for their predecessor’s mistakes and claiming that they need to be in charge of ‘transitioning’ us into their idea of a brave new world.
    LIKE THAT WOULD ACTUALLY WORK???????

    I would much prefer to argue for some common sense instead.
    The only way this debate will ever be solved is if we look at what the REAL PROBLEMS actually are and then set about putting in some smart practical management techniques to solve them.
    Everything else is just stupid politics which has framed this debate as a war between the environment and the irrigation industry.
    It is pure rubbish and completely counter productive.

  16. toby robertson December 2, 2011 at 9:50 am #

    Debbie you speak far too much common sense to ever get anywhere!
    a very sad state of affairs/.

    marc just tries to put down jen with snide insinuations and ignores anything which shows how doubtful his own paradigm is.
    amazing how belief in CAGW seems to run hand in hand with a superior attitude and condescension for others….or maybe its just the trolls who like to be dogmatic for the sake of it?!

    David, I have family in Morgan and they also tell stories of catching salt water fish in the area from old locals.
    Funny how that happens when the “sweet fresh water” line was where the barrages are today!

  17. Susan December 2, 2011 at 10:27 am #

    Your welcome David.

    It’s really clear from that MDBC report in 2000, that the freshwater ecosystem in the Lower Lakes and Coorong was under pressure and struggling from an environmental viewpoint even then.

    Since 2000 there’s been the big drought, that pointed out the Achilles heel of the barrages and the artificial freshwater system of the Lower Lakes. The drought pointed out what happens if there’s not enough freshwater to keep the shallow farm dam of the Lower Lakes, all 2,500 GL worth, full.

    Pre 1940, during times of ‘low river’, and a few months at the end of summer, it would have been natural for the sea to fill the void and maintain the Lower Lakes always around 0.0 AHD or sea level.

    All of the ‘dying lakes’ images come from the time when the freshwater side was below sealevel, and the barrages were closed, acting like a seawall. There’s a picture of that here too, http://www.lakesneedwater.org/barrages . I remember standing there and seeing on one side the ‘salty’ evil side with vegetation to the edges of the water, ducks, waterbirds, people fishing etc. things looking just fine, and the other side looking like the moon.

    By the way this shortcoming of the barrages is pointed out in a report in 1903, a copy of it here:
    http://lakesneedwater.blogspot.com/2011/08/murray-barrages-report-by-experts-1902.html

  18. Marc December 2, 2011 at 10:50 am #

    Hello again. I have not at all implied that there was no connectivity between the Coorong and the lakes prior to the barrages and that salt water did indeed intrude – sometimes a long way. I have seen early news reports of sharks being caught south of Mannum and there are Aboriginal rock carvings of dolphins just north of Mannum. The ‘land-bridge’ was for some if its length partly submerged – but at a height sufficient to allow passage.

    Furthermore, there are strong vested economic interest in retaining the lakes in their current state, such as the marina developers on Hindmarsh Island.

    I am in principal inclined to agree with the proposition of removing the barrages, however it is not such a simple task as is being purported here – there are sweet water ecological communities at stake.

    I have experienced firsthand the polarisation and hostilities that this ‘wicked problem’ of managing the basin and the basin plan has generated, and will no doubt continue for years to come. What I find confronting and un helpful are ill-considered, rash statements coming from ‘both ends’ of the basin dictating what should happen at the other, without any real appreciation for the social, economic and ecological conditions particular to the target location. Change cannot be dictated for some, where the status quo is able to remain for others.

  19. David Joss December 2, 2011 at 11:22 am #

    Marc,
    “I am in principal inclined to agree with the proposition of removing the barrages, however it is not such a simple task as is being purported here – there are sweet water ecological communities at stake. ”
    Simple solution.
    There is a huge slug of environmental water (or surplus shed as a precaution from storages) in the system right now. Opening the barrages will give the eco-communities time to adapt as they must have done back in the pre-dam days when the impact of drought was much more severe.

  20. George December 2, 2011 at 3:48 pm #

    Here in California, USA, we rely too much on “average” rainfall levels to set expectations. I believe we should use the median and not the mean. I also believe we should select a median when we have a positive PDO and a median for negative PDO and set the expectations accordingly. Averages can be skewed by extreme years, medians are, in my opinion, more reliable. A median gives you a 50-50 chance of having enough water to meet expectations, an average may not if your rainfall typically varies widely. It is quite possible to have more than 50% of years be above or below average, that is impossible for a median value.

  21. debbie December 2, 2011 at 5:40 pm #

    Marc,

    Change cannot be dictated for some, where the status quo is able to remain for others.

    I’m sure you think that sounds extremely resonable but at its core it is refusing to acknowledge the real problem. It causes inaction and a mindset where we have to accept that we’re all going to suffer.

    Quite simply….the drought has taught us that our current storage and management systems are unable to keep any staus quo stable in a run of low inflow years.
    As the recent breaking of the drought has quite dramatically proved, our natural ephemeral environment is more than capable of surviving a prolonged drought.
    I live and work in the MDB and have done so for over 40 years….I have NEVER seen anything like this. There is native fauna and flora in plague proportions that we were told were endangered, a couple of them were supposedly gone for ever. Even the Boree trees and the gums are having copious ‘babies’. It is truly spectacular. I also suspect that the birds and the frogs and the tortoises and the snakes and the ants and the water rats and just about everything else you can imagine actually know something that we don’t know and that is why they disappeared and why they are back.
    I will also add that they really don’t care if they live and breed in our dams our channels our rice fields or in the river and the natural billabongs. They thrive and multiply regardless when the conditions are right.
    It is the human environment and the human water dependant assets that have suffered and can’t cope. To pretend otherwise is not facing up to reality.
    The problem we need to fix is the lack of storage and infrastructure because population and production demands have outstripped our tired and dated management systems.
    SA is incredibly vulnerable at the botom of the system, but they too have not backed up their development aspirations with adequate storage and infrastructure….Hindmarsh being only one of them.
    They have also shamelessly used ‘environmental’ arguments to try and maintain their ‘status quo’.
    We can and we should work towards achieving both goals.
    We should make sure that we continue to improve and enhance our natural environmental assets and we should also make sure that we keep all communities safe and stop sprouting idealogical rubbish that won’t solve anything at all.
    Your comments about vested interests are also shallow and unproductive.
    Of course we have vested interests, why would you think otherwise?
    People who live in the MDB are productive. They run businesses and make huge investments and most of the time they contribute significantly to Australia’s GDP…..it isn’t anything obscene or demeaning. There is nothing inherently wrong with what they do and they care just as much about keeping their environment healthy as you do. In actual fact they probably care more because their livelihoods depend on it.
    In your last comment you pretend you are asking for the middle ground but everything else you have posted reeks of exacerbating and encouraging this attitude:

    What I find confronting and un helpful are ill-considered, rash statements coming from ‘both ends’ of the basin dictating what should happen at the other, without any real appreciation for the social, economic and ecological conditions particular to the target location.

    We have made mistakes and we need to fix them. They will not be fixed while we continue to pretend this is a battle between farming and nature. That is complete and unadulterated political rubbish.

  22. el gordo December 2, 2011 at 7:37 pm #

    ‘I also believe we should select a median when we have a positive PDO and a median for negative PDO and set the expectations accordingly.’

    Interesting suggestion George and worth following up.

  23. Dave Shorter December 2, 2011 at 9:19 pm #

    Marc,
    Regarding vested interests.Don’t you think environmentalists have a vested interest in exagerating and spreading and perpetuating myths about the environment? It seems to me a lot of people have achieved undeserved acclaim and influence by doing exactly that. In fact there is a former Australian of the year who made his name as a prophet of doom who is now making a very good profit from doomsaying.Worse than that there are two political parties which have shamelessly exploited environmental concerns to achieve power.Bullshitting about the environment can be a very rewarding career!
    Declaration.I am a farmer and grazier.How do you make your living ?

  24. hunter December 3, 2011 at 12:01 am #

    The elephant dung in the room is that big enviro has become a very lucrative cottage industry and has no interest in anything but continued enrichment and increase in power. Since it is an industry that produces very little and trades mostly in political power, their mark of success is in control of the political process.

  25. debbie December 3, 2011 at 9:14 am #

    Well said Hunter,
    This whole fiasco has turned into a political nightmare. It astonishes me that we have ‘vested interests’ who are prepared to trade off over 100 years of our proud history of inland development in order to gain political kudos.
    They are not at all interested in actually being part of a solution to the problem.
    They want the problem to remain.

  26. David Joss December 3, 2011 at 3:36 pm #

    Despite having recently been accorded national park status, many of the forests in the central Murray are artefacts of white settlement. The journal of Charles Sturt (1838) and the observations contained in Edward M Curr’s Recollections of Squatting in Victoria are but two confirmations that there were no great riverine forests along this section of the river prior to about 1860.
    Both writers described the effects of aboriginal burning, a subject explored by Professor Stephen J Pyne in Burning Bush (University of Washington Press, 1991) and more recently by Professor Bill Gammage in The Biggest Estate on Earth (Allen & Unwin, 2011).
    Both books advance the hypothesis that firestick farming was a deliberate and regular landscape maintenance program.
    Both of the earlier writers found that the river banks were mostly wetlands and grassy plains although the now dominant Eucalyptus camaldulensis, river red gums, were present but in much smaller numbers.
    It was not until the burning ceased and squatters’ stock began grazing down the lush grasses that the forests began to dominate the flood plain.
    I mention this because it shows that this section of the river and very probably all of the Murray frontage has been manipulated for mankind’s benefit for thousands of years.
    The efforts of the last hundred years have been spectacularly successful, providing bountiful harvests that help to feed not only Australia but other, often needier countries.
    Often overlooked, but mentioned by Debbie above, is that irrigation farms are surrogate wetlands. Many fish (yes, endangered species) survived blackwater events last summer because they were in the canals.
    It’s often said, in another context, that man cannot control the climate. But the fact that during the most recent drought the Murray never looked like running dry is all due to human intervention.
    Before environmental water is allocated we need another dam like Dartmouth in which to store it.

  27. Luke December 4, 2011 at 10:08 am #

    Plenty of whining – no solutions.

    So your own operators manual for running the basin is what? Operating principles are what?

  28. el gordo December 4, 2011 at 10:52 am #

    ‘So your own operators manual for running the basin is what?’

    Stop the water buyback immediately, allow farmers and graziers to regulate based on sound economic practice. Big floods are coming and conditions will remain soggy for a decade.

  29. Luke December 4, 2011 at 1:45 pm #

    Sounds like anarchy – who the farmers and graziers exactly? They can give engineering advice? Another recipe for ongoing fighting.

    “conditions will remain soggy for a decade” is on my fridge – El Gordo pers. comm. Dec 2011

  30. debbie December 4, 2011 at 2:09 pm #

    Luke,
    That’s exactly correct….there is plenty of whining and no solutions.
    Could it possibly be because no one is even clear about what the problem is?
    Could it possibly be because the problem is actually a political problem?
    It is very hard to solve a problem when the problem itself is not clear.
    There are many, many , many ways to improve the management of the MDB so that everyone wins….including the environment and including SA.
    This plan does not look at the broader practical solutions because it is totally shackled by a woefully inadequate and totally impractical piece of legislation (Water Act 2007)
    The problem we have with the MDBP is that it is full of a mind boggling amount of scientific detail and projective modelling detail but no actual practical detail. No one can explain how this could work in practice.
    It is making assumptions based on almost meaningless, linear, long term averages. Their ideas cannot be applied in a practical manner under current storage capacities or current sytem constraints.
    It is also operating from the completely false assumption that the only way to fix the MDB is to ‘flush it’.
    That is complete nonsense and does not recognise the highly variable nature of our systems or that the natural Australian Wetland Environment is ephemeral.
    There are plenty of what Burke calls ‘high level principles’ but precious little else.
    Because it’s a political problem, I guess we’re going to hear more and more whining and whinging and no actual solutions.
    I’m wondering why you thought it necessary to take a cheap shot at farmers and graziers? You do know don’t you that irrigation farmers have incredible water engineering skills both formal and even more importantly in practical water management?
    Are you enjoying the fact that we have a stupid polarised political debate that is framed as a debate between agriculture and the environment?
    Your comment only adds fuel to that fire and you’re right you know….if we keep it up….nothing will get solved.

  31. Luke December 4, 2011 at 10:15 pm #

    Wasn’t a cheap shot? Just asking who speaks for this disparate group from the Carnarvon highlands in Qld and the western slopes of the Great Divide across NSW all the way to South Australia?

    And where is the alternative prospectus?

  32. Neville December 5, 2011 at 8:32 am #

    A very good column from Lucy Knight and on the ABC no less.

    http://www.abc.net.au/rural/content/2011/s3381465.htm

  33. Debbie December 5, 2011 at 8:35 am #

    And therein lies the problem Luke.
    You assume that some type of centralized bureaucracy is needed to solve an environmental problem.
    Unless they are genuinely prepared to tackle the fact that the solution is related to investment in human environments and human infrastructure, we are going nowhere fast.
    We are actually part of the environment you know. When we are given the opportunity we are also good stewards of the environment and can actually enhance it so that there are more places for native species to thrive as well as creating more production.
    The ‘mutually exclusive’ argument you appear to favour is just polarized political rhetoric and completely unproductive.
    There are plenty of good plans available that would result in a win/win solution. What is missing is the political will.
    The key word is ‘balance’.

  34. Pikey December 5, 2011 at 10:46 am #

    To Luke and All.

    Here are some thoughts from an article in Quadrant today.

    http://www.quadrant.org.au/blogs/doomed-planet/2011/12/the-politics-of-water

    Pikey.

  35. Luke December 5, 2011 at 11:12 am #

    Pikey – thanks for that.

    Debs – I didn’t say a centralised bureaucrcay – but I don’t think anarchy is that good either.

    I don’t understand why you guys have not moved to an alternative process and formula? I would like to hear about these other plans…. or does enunciating them somehow reduce your perceived bargaining position?

  36. debbie December 5, 2011 at 12:19 pm #

    Well done Pikey!
    That pretty much sums up the common sense approach we would all prefer to take.
    Luke,
    Just completing and improving the SH scheme would do a great deal to alleviate the problems we are facing. There seriously is no shortage of good sensible management plans.
    We have also learned a great deal about environmental responsibility in the last 5 decades.
    We are more than capable of upgrading in concert with what we have learned.
    There is plenty of enunciating….it is just not particularly politically popular and therefore does not make any headway into the MSM….or the halls of power.
    As Pikey also points out, water politics is rampant with squabbling…Jen also knows this is a huge problem.
    The ‘good guys’ get totally frustrated with the nonsense that goes on.
    Perceived bargaining position?
    There you go with the ‘politics’ again.
    A bit of practical evidence and common sense would be a much better option don’t you think?
    Politcal bargaining is an absolute nightmare for all of us out here. We don’t have the electoral votes…because we’re regional.
    That does not mean that we don’t know what we’re talking about however.

  37. Pikey December 5, 2011 at 12:19 pm #

    Luke,
    We do and have had for some time another plan.
    Without going into detail, as I believe we have done this over several years, but in summary it is this.
    All of the premises and assumptions made to justify the Water Act were in fact FALSE.
    The MDB had in fact been managed in a very practical manner for 90 years.
    Mismanagement is recent and driven by Green idiology.
    What the politicians are trying to do now is the most scandalous waste of money to attack a problem that does not exist and about which they have no knowledge.
    A far better outcome for all Australians, the environment (yet to be specified by politicians), rural communities, productive jobs and balancing State and Federal budgets will result when we “ditch” the Water Act and build more water storage.
    Everyone and all species benefit.
    And yes we should “bomb” the barrages and build a new one a Wellington.
    Hyper salinity in the Coorong is easily cured for little cost by implementing the Ian Mott scheme which you can Google or I can post if you are interested.
    Most of this is summarised in the Quadrant article.
    Pikey.

  38. debbie December 5, 2011 at 12:28 pm #

    http://www.abc.net.au/rural/content/2011/s3381465.htm

  39. Dave Shorter December 5, 2011 at 9:42 pm #

    Well said Ron Pike.
    It seems the misguided misanthropists from the big Green “charities” have captured the moral high ground in the view of many.
    We have to dislodge them.
    I believe the way to do this is to point out the humanitarian cost of locking renewable resources away from production.It is surely true that in the last two decades Labor Party Governments have locked up enough land and water resources to feed to feed an African famine!
    They make Marie-Antoinette look kind and compassionate by comparison.

  40. spangled drongo December 6, 2011 at 1:43 pm #

    “Big floods are coming and conditions will remain soggy for a decade.”

    EG, you could be right. More rain in the Qld end of the MDB.

    Glad I’m not camped at Cunnamulla where I was recently.

  41. Peter R. Smith OAM December 6, 2011 at 2:05 pm #

    Hi all especially Debbie: – Thank you all for the links, whilst it has taken some time to read and digest them all they were certainly informative.
    In J.M’s. Rant to begin with:-
    Lake Alexandrina was TIDAL.
    Without, “the 7.6 kilometres of barrages across the Murray River’s estuary” tidal environment the Lower River Murray (Blanchetown to the Southern Ocean) wouldn’t be able to, “supply fresh water to Cities, towns and irrigators”
    And yes, “the Murray River is unnaturally high for much of the length of the river, most of the time.” Yes, because of the Locks, are you going to suggest pulling them out?
    Keeping the River, “unnaturally high” is one of the main problems during times of low inflow – that height is the same height required for paddle steamers to ply their trade.
    Re, “Indeed, it will do nothing to solve the problems of the Lower Lakes during drought – problems that are a consequence of the 7.6km of concrete barrage.”
    Maybe instead of continually blaming the Barrages for the Murray Darling Basin’s woes either put up or shut up!
    Give us your grand plans JM.
    Re, Ross Gittins ravings is he serious?
    Re JM saying, “And I have no current commercial interests in the irrigation industry.” I’m sorry I don’t believe her!
    To John Sayers: – “Jay Weatherill that’s calling the shots for the lower Murray” I really don’t know but his advisors are certainly living on the same planet us we are.
    To toby robertson: – It is not just about fish!
    To Dave Shorter: – “We have to convince people that production for human need has greater moral virtue than sending fresh water to the Southern Ocean.” Firstly look at why the River Murray has to be flushed!
    JM, Points out that the wish to keep the Murray Mouth open with fresh water is also not substantiated by historical fact or sound environmental science. That is her point of view and is not necessarily correct.
    To David Joss: – Yes, removing the Barrages, “is not such a simple task as is being purported here – there are sweet water ecological communities at stake. ” Also your, “Simple solution” is just crap, do you really understand the Lower River Murray?
    To David Joss: Re, “Before environmental water is allocated we need another dam like Dartmouth in which to store it.” Could you please explain WHERE it should be constructed.
    To Debbie, just because you have read anything does not mean it is true, as with your opinion.
    To you all it’s great to be back, same old same old.

  42. debbie December 6, 2011 at 4:58 pm #

    Right back at you Peter,
    Just because you have read anything etc…..
    I have not advocated same old, same old at any time.
    We all know we have problems in the MDB…..I am asking for some common sense and an end to the stupid adversarial political debate that is solving nothing.
    The problem is the human water dependant assets including the Lower Lakes and the barrages.
    If you’re so determined to preserve the staus quo of the management of the lower lakes….even though the drought dramatically proved that it is NO LONGER sustainable…how about you come up with a plan for you to keep that regime that doesn’t involve making perfectly sustainable upstream communities pay with their livelihoods?
    You must have some Peter….I believe another Lock is one of them?
    You need to stop fuelling the ‘It’s all the upstream irrigators’ fault’ argument. It is parochial and totally unproductive.
    When SA was short of water….so were we.
    We all suffered….it was not unique to SA.
    Thank goodness that we do at least have the current management systems……they kept critical supplies available….especially lucky for SA don’t you think?

  43. Peter R. Smith OAM December 6, 2011 at 6:33 pm #

    Hi Debbie,
    Two points my reading since the release of the plan has been extensive as has been the meetings I have attended and on Friday it’s the MDBA meeting at Murray Bridge.
    Second point, “You need to stop fuelling the ‘It’s all the upstream irrigators’ fault’ argument. It is parochial and totally unproductive” I am not fuelling the ‘fault’ argument.
    Es, “We all know we have problems in the MDB” that is the first time I have see you say that in print!
    I am sure we all agree and want to see an end to, “I am asking for some common sense and an end to the stupid adversarial political debate that is solving nothing” but sadly common sense will not prevail while the future of the MDB is in the hands of political parties,
    Yes we were all short of water during the drought but instead of lowering weir pools that could have been lowered we didn’t, can you tell me why weir pools were maintain at the level once required for paddle steamers to ply their trade.
    You want my solution, well here it is and it has been canvassed and distributed widely.
    Construct a Torrumbarry model weir near Wellington.
    Lower the weir pool between Lock 1 and Lock Zero at approximately +0.3-0.4 about AHD there not filling the flood plains and back waters below Lock 1.
    Only allow water into the flood plains and back waters below Lock 1so as to dampen the soil and then lower the weir pool again.
    Bu manipulation of the Barrages and Lock Zero maintain a level of approximately +0.5 AHD in Lakes Alexandrina and Lake Albert.
    Repair Lake Albert to get the EC level down to about 500EC not the 5000+EC is now.
    Repair by: –
    Remove the Causeway,
    Remove the Bund in total,
    Dredge the Narrung Narrows,
    A channel or a pipeline at the southern end of Lake Albert to the Coorong.
    Return natural flows to the southern end of the Coorong.
    My estimated saving per year between 250 and 35-Gigalitres!
    One last MAIN point have a body appointed with the same power as the Reserve Bank totally without ANY political interference.

  44. spangled drongo December 7, 2011 at 6:53 am #

    “One last MAIN point have a body appointed with the same power as the Reserve Bank totally without ANY political interference.”

    Its one thing to divorce interest rates from politics, it’s a million other things to do that with the MDB.

    You would have a revolution if that many people didn’t have input into such a complex and involved part of their lives.

  45. debbie December 7, 2011 at 8:15 am #

    Peter,
    I cannot believe you think I have never said there was not a problem in the MDB.
    I even took the time to read over some of our previous exchanges.
    I think that comment comes from the fact that you and I disagree about what the problem actually is.
    The problem was not and is still not predominately an ‘environmental’ problem.
    All our natural water dependant environmental assets have just dramatically proved they are perfectly capable of surviving a prolonged drought.
    That would be because our natural water environment is ephemeral….ie….it is used to coping with droughts and flooding rains.
    We have a problem with our human water dependant assets and it has now developed into a political problem.
    While we continue to fuel the stupid polarised ‘irrigation vs environment’ debate….which is particularly rampant in SA (sorry but it is true)…..we will not be able to work towards solving the problem.
    The Murray Mouth and the lower lakes and the Coorong were interefered with by the human environment. Some mistakes were made and they need to be fixed….end of story there.
    There are also issues upstream that need to be fixed….end of story there too.
    The politics and the ‘environmental debate’ has only suceeded in stopping anyone from doing what needs to be done.
    What we are seriously lacking is the political will and the political vision to plan for our future with water.
    What we have instead is the mindset that we all have to suffer with less.
    The actual slogan is:
    “A future with less water”.
    You do understand don’t you that because SA is at the bottom of the system and therefore extremely vulnerable, SA stands to lose the most if we keep arguing on these stupid parochial, political and completely false assumptions?
    I think that would be an absolute tragedy….I like SA….it is a beautiful place….it needs more water storage to grow and prosper.
    So do many of the upstream communities.

  46. debbie December 7, 2011 at 9:05 am #

    Also Peter,
    I cannot understand why you always make a fuss about TIDAL and claim that proves that Jennifer’s arguments are invalid.
    My understanding is that all river mouths that empty into the ocean are influenced by tides and that they are also estaurine environments. Am I missing something here?
    Every community that has developed around the end of river systems….WORLD WIDE….have the same issues with the tides wanting to shift around the mouth and often closing it.
    The established communities want their systems to stay immobile and the very uncooperative ocean has no interest in keeping things static.
    Why is the prevalent SA argument pretending that the Murray Mouth is somehow different?

  47. George December 7, 2011 at 11:57 am #

    So I have looked at some climate data and have noticed a fairly significant difference between the mean and the medians for rainfall. Here is what I have done so far and please keep in mind that I am not all that familiar with the climate there but becoming more so.

    I picked Queensland as I see it mentioned often here. I also discovered that there is a difference in the duration of the rainy season between the Southern and Northern parts of the state so I have compromised on a November – April rainy period.

    I selected a place, in this case “Townsville”, because I like the name and for no other reason.

    So first of all, generally speaking, I notice that the mean rainfall for Townsville in April according to my data source is 66.6mm but the median is only 31.8mm. That is a significant variation. Anyone planning on 66mm of rainfall in April is going to come up short more often than not. In fact, nearly every month has a lower median than mean. If “average” rainfall amounts are being used to set expectations and for policy decisions, the amount of rainfall is going to be overestimated quite often. Even in January the mean is 276.5mm and the median is 212.6mm which is still a significant potential shortfall if the “average” number is used for planning. This is especially true if the definition of “drought” for purposes of public communications purposes is being below “average” rainfall for some period of time. If this is the case, it should be changed to below MEDIAN and not MEAN (average).

    What I plan to do next is perform some new analysis and divide the data into three sets: ENSO (MEI) Negative years, ENSO Neutral years and ENSO positive years then select the median of those three sets.

    After I do that, I will attempt to make a forecast for the rest of this year and we can see how accurate it is. In fact, I will attempt a forecast for NEXT year as soon as I have the ENSO forecasts available. The current ENSO forecast that is available to me is only available through August of next year at this time. Also these forecasts change over time as the models (several models in the ensemble) are re-run periodically and initialized with the current conditions as of run time.

    The goal will be to attempt to find out if I can:

    1. See how far in advance I can create a forecast for the upcoming season.
    2. Adjust the forecast as the rain season approaches.
    3. Further adjust the forecast DURING the season to reflect what has transpired to that time.
    4. See how skillful my process is in creating an accurate rain forecast for a particular area.

    So basically it would start out like this if I have no MEI data available:

    Townsville: 736mm of rain from November 2012 to April 2013 for setting expectations for planning purposes. Based on historical data, that number is just as likely to be exceeded as it is to be fallen short of for all years in the database.

    If I determine that there is a significant difference in the medians for ENSO positive / neutral / negative years, once I know the likely state of the MEI during that season, I will further refine it with the median of that regime.

    Question for Aussies who are much more familiar with Queensland: Is November to April a reasonable “rainy season”?

    Currently it looks like that season (2012-2013) has a >50% chance of being ENSO negative or ENSO neutral.

  48. George December 7, 2011 at 12:04 pm #

    And my comment is in the spirit of stopping my whining and doing something. The first step is to see if my intuition has any validity. If it does, the next step is to suggest to policy makers that they change how they do things with a suggestion that has proved to have some validity.

  49. Peter R. Smith OAM: - December 7, 2011 at 12:49 pm #

    Hi spangled drongo,
    Why couldn’t a body that is set up to manage the MDB be without political input and still converse with stakeholders? All it would take is political fortitude.
    Hi Debbie: –
    Re, “I think that comment comes from the fact that you and I disagree about what the problem actually is” you may be right but I do not tell you what should be done in your area but you support major changes to my area.
    Re, “The Murray Mouth and the lower lakes and the Coorong were interfered with by the human environment. Some mistakes were made and they need to be fixed….end of story there” I am sorry I do not agree!
    Because, “What we are seriously lacking is the political will and the political vision to plan for our future with water” the management of the MDB must be non political.
    Re more storage’s, where do you propose they be put?
    There is a difference between estuarine and tidal and that people must understand

  50. Peter R. Smith OAM December 7, 2011 at 1:30 pm #

    BIG ENVIRONMENTAL LOBBY groups criticise the draft Murray-Darling Basin Plan for not delivering enough water for the environment, and thereby endangering the communities economically dependent on it. But the economic modelling needs to be critically analysed.

    The studies commissioned by the Murray-Darling Basin Authority to assess the economic benefits of the proposed Basin Plan have tried to estimate ‘use’ and ‘non-use’ environmental values of the basin. For example, a ‘use’ of the environment might be tourism to a wetland, while a ‘non-use’ could be the value the community places on clean water.

    However, measuring the economics associated with environmental benefits is difficult as markets for environmental assets rarely exist. There is no trade in wetlands or water quality. Economic estimations are likely to be imprecise.

    There is some market data on direct use of environmental assets, and where it exists, it can be a reasonably reliable way to estimate environmental benefits. But trying to extract information through proxy market data (such as house prices) and survey responses provides imprecise results. It is no surprise that some of the estimates on the environmental benefit side have had such large ranges. As an example, it was claimed that the “avoided costs from the lower Murray dairy swamp in South Australia have a filtration value of $1,180 to $12,700”. That’s over $11,000 of guesswork.

    Furthermore, data for environmental assets is scarce and so existing data from some regions within the Murray-Darling Basin were used as an estimate for environmental benefits in other regions where no data was available.

    Key figures in the Authority’s economic calculations are the Gross Regional Product (GRP), Gross Value of Irrigated Agricultural Production (GVIAP) and employment. These are the results of quantitative economic modelling, the basis for this which lies in Computed General Equilibrium (CGE) models.

    A CGE model is based on a system of equations and has many assumptions imposed on it. Here lie some, but not all, of the problems of the Authority’s economic cost estimates. The structure of the CGE model assumes that workers can move to wherever the work is and take their assets with them, and that people have perfect foresight and make rational decisions about consumption and investment.

    Based on these assumptions it is not surprising that the employment impacts of the draft Basin Plan is minimal with estimates ranging between losses of 1,600 jobs up to an increase of 300 jobs. An individual who loses his job in one region as a result of lower water availability is assumed to simply uproot their life and shift to a different region.

    Such an extreme assumption on labour mobility is quite unrealistic. Even if we assume that labour is completely mobile, then wages would be affected if water is taken from regional communities.

    A decrease in water availability will likely affect output of the basin and therefore lower the amount of jobs needed. In this situation, employment can only be kept stable if workers accept lower wages. If wages are taken as a proxy for welfare, then the employment figures quoted by the Authority only show a partial picture of the economic costs of the proposed Basin Plan. Furthermore, the argument that agriculture is not an important employment sector within the basin area fails to see that agriculture is a vital link within the supply chain. A reduction in agricultural employment will clearly impact processing sector employment.

    The Authority claims that the overall impact on gross regional product is low. It can be argued that these skewed results are driven by the linear structure of the economic modeling and the assumption that the proceeds from water buybacks remain within local communities.

    Given the increased financial constraints that individuals and communities currently face due to the prolonged drought and the GFC, the assumption that the additional financial capital remains within the communities is not realistic. Lower consumer confidence as a result of the remaining uncertainty of future water availability and the additional recent developments in energy prices and energy related service charges is likely to result in lower spending within basin communities and will lead to lower local stimulus. Should the proceeds from water buybacks be used to reduce pay off debt (and hence leave local communities) then the impact of the reduced water availability will be even more severe than the Authority’s modelling suggests.

    A first indicator for greater uncertainty and lower willingness to spend can be seen in the recent housing prices in the basin. Griffith has seen a drop in house prices in 2011 (since the release of the Guide) by about seven per cent.

    There are various limitations of the economic modelling commissioned by the Murray-Darling Basin Authority. The often quoted statement that the environmental benefits of the draft Basin Plan outweigh the economic costs should be reassessed in the light of inherent limitations of the methodologies applied to modelling.

  51. Peter R. Smith OAM December 7, 2011 at 1:32 pm #

    I pasted the wrong stuff.
    Hi Debbie: –
    Re, “I think that comment comes from the fact that you and I disagree about what the problem actually is” you may be right but I do not tell you what should be done in your area but you support major changes to my area.
    Re, “The Murray Mouth and the lower lakes and the Coorong were interfered with by the human environment. Some mistakes were made and they need to be fixed….end of story there” I am sorry I do not agree!
    Because, “What we are seriously lacking is the political will and the political vision to plan for our future with water” the management of the MDB must be non political.
    Re more storage’s, where do you propose they be put?
    There is a difference between estuarine and tidal and that people must understand.

  52. debbie December 7, 2011 at 1:59 pm #

    You don’t think some mistakes have been made in SA?
    You don’t think that humans have interfered?
    Seriously?
    I also said they have been made elsewhere…not just there.
    How about you read the whole comment in context Peter?

    Also Peter….you keep asking that question about storages, how many times do you need it answered?
    Try…complete and improve the SH scheme.
    Try the extra dam on the Murray from the SH plans.
    Try east of Wagga.
    Try North of Narranderra.
    Try weirs and storages (and flood mitigation) on the tributaries and creeks.
    I do not know the exact positions but there are plans for storgaes available in your part of the world too.
    Look them up!!!

    Also…I have read that economic analysis of the MDB socio economic analysis before.
    The MDBA socio economic work is woefully inadequate don’t you think?
    It makes assumptions on whole of basin macro economics instead of recognising where the water is to be taken from and the socio economic impacts on those specific areas.
    Including the ACT and Canberra in the Murrumbidgee socio economic figures when they are not going to be contributing any extra water beggars disbelief!
    Canberra’s industry and socio economic fabric is not heavily dependant on irrigation water or even the irrigation industry.
    SURELY…they need to study the impacts on the areas that are required to hand over productive water…and then examine the flow on effect from that???????
    SURELY?????

  53. debbie December 7, 2011 at 2:08 pm #

    Also Peter
    I still don’t understand the point you are trying to make about the difference betwen tidal and estaurine….aren’t they intrinsically related when we are discussing river mouths?
    Aren’t river mouths influenced by tidal influences while also being estaurine environments?
    You seem to be trying to argue that somehow the Murray Mouth is fundamentally different?
    I think????

  54. spangled drongo December 7, 2011 at 2:11 pm #

    Govt to sell water when no one wants it and buy it back when everyone does.

    What business acumen!!! Taxpayer suckered again:

    http://www.abc.net.au/rural/news/content/201112/s3385678.htm

  55. debbie December 7, 2011 at 5:15 pm #

    Some interesting 1884 information on the Lower Lakes also compared to current sutuation:

    http://www.lakesneedwater.org/maps/Lower-Lakes-South-Australia-1844-Map

  56. spangled drongo December 7, 2011 at 5:30 pm #

    Wonder what we can get for this lot?

    http://www.bom.gov.au/qld/

  57. Peter R. Smith OAM December 7, 2011 at 6:48 pm #

    I have never said mistakes have not been made in SA!
    Re storages there is nowhere in SA where we can construct storages.
    Re, “The MDBA socio economic work is woefully inadequate don’t you think?” I certainly do and to add insult to injury it wasn’t until we kicked up that the MDBA agreed to look at a socio economic survey below Lock 1.
    The ACT is not contributing any water under the plan!
    Estuarine is predominately sea water, a salt water environment, where as tidal is predominately fresh water, a fresh water environment.

  58. Debbie December 7, 2011 at 8:05 pm #

    I was wondering why you disagreed with my comment Peter. Of course SA has made mistakes along with everyone else.
    Was it because I mentioned the Murray Mouth and the Coorong?
    You seem to be splitting hairs with your tidal/estaurine argument.
    Did you look at that link from Susan’s website?
    Somehow, the predominant argument from SA is arguing that the Murray Mouth is fundamentally different from other river mouths. . . Do you know why?
    Historical evidence seems to indicate that the Murray mouth suffers from the same issues as other places in the world and in Australia where river mouths have been surrounded by human settlement.
    Why is SA arguing it is something else?
    You seem adament that it is not possible to build extra storage and infrastructure in SA.
    Says who?
    Of course it is possible. With the right mind set. . .ANYTHING is possible.
    What is missing is the political will; not the wherewithal.
    If SA needs more fresh water, then maybe SA needs to think about how to do that without demanding that others have to supply it.
    Of course that also applies to other areas upstream which have outgrown their storage and infrastructure capacities.

  59. Johnathan Wilkes December 7, 2011 at 10:03 pm #

    Debbie said:
    “Of course it is possible. With the right mind set. . .ANYTHING is possible.”

    Of course it is but you have to have a mindset, that is not set on a certain course of outcome.

    Not necessarily advocating it, if you think about it, building a dam up north and piping water down south would costs a heck of a lot less than the NBN’s 30 billion + and far more useful.

    And if that is possible why couldn’t we build a better water infrastructure right here?

    And before you call me a Luddite, may I remind you that huge business empires, like the East India Co. for instance were established and operated without the “instant” communication we take for granted today!

  60. Peter R. Smith OAM December 8, 2011 at 1:20 am #

    Hi Debbie,
    My agreeing with you Debbie has nothing to do with, “Was it because I mentioned the Murray Mouth and the Coorong?” it has more to do with inefficiencies within irrigation practices, most of which have been modified and I am sorry to remind you, again, SA has the most efficient irrigators in the Basin!
    Yes I have read the link supplied by Susan and it is by an organisation that wants the Barrages removed, an organisation which has little or no credence within SA.
    The Murray Mouth is similar if not the same as the mouths of many river systems around the world, the same but different, and the greatest problem is lack of historical flow to clean out these rivers.
    It should be obvious the more we take (out of the system) the more damage we do to the flushing which is required to maintain a systems health.
    Re, “If SA needs more fresh water, then maybe SA needs to think about how to do that without demanding that others have to supply it” the water required is for the continued health of the Murray Darling Basin, as I have said before the Basin needs to be managed from Lock Zero.
    And yes, “Of course that also applies to other areas upstream which have outgrown their storage and infrastructure capacities” maybe the political will required is to our aging infrastructure including open channel irrigation which evaporates approximately 40% of SA’s entitlement of 1850-Gigalitres and extractions MUST be measured from point of extraction from the source and not farm gate.
    Hi Johnathan,
    Re, “we build a better water infrastructure right here” that as I have said continually is the task in front of us and where up North do believe we should start?

  61. debbie December 8, 2011 at 10:31 am #

    Oh dear Peter,
    That comment is so incredibly parochial.
    I agree that SA irrigators are efficient….but so are all irrigators in the MDB….your statement about who is most efficient is completely unsubstantiated and does not take into account all the factors that make up what we would judge as ‘efficient’. It is just a parochial and xenophobic comment about your state….nothing else.
    The MDB can’t be managed FROM loch zero. Water runs downhill Peter and Loch zero would be at the bottom of the system.
    If you mean the ‘Health of the basin’ then loch zero (if it existed) would just be one of many monitoring points….not the management decision point.
    Water in the MDB needs to be managed from the top to the bottom….and so does the water quality.
    Your evaporation argument is also worrying as well as your extraction argument.
    Water evaporates…that is a given…it even evaporates off you.
    I agree that open channels evaporate but you also must factor in the trade off with piping and pumping water. That immediately squanders the renewable source of gravity…is that always a good idea? Especially in areas where the channels DO NOT LEAK. Isn’t one of the major complaints about the piping in SA that the water deliver is too expensive because of pumping and piping costs?
    If taken to its logical conclusion…your argument would have to include making the Murray River run through a pipe.
    There are places where we need pipes….but that’s because those channels LEAK….not because of evaporation.
    Your extraction argument COMPLETELY IGNORES the fact that most of the water that is extracted in the MDB goes through private infrastructure companies like Murray Irrigation Ltd and Murrumbidgee Irrigation Ltd and Golburn Valley Water and Colleambaly Irrigation etc and ALL OF THAT WATER is measured at the extraction point ALL OF IT!!! EVERY SINGLE LAST DROP!!!!!
    I will also add that those are exactly the same areas where the MDBA are targetting the water for the ‘end of system flows’
    If you’re talking about riparian rights…then that is a completely different story and SA has rather a lot of those don’t they? They do not however make up much of the % of water extraction in the MDB.
    Re the map….I asked if you looked at the map overlay….not what the “agenda” of the site is.
    Did you happen to notice that Murray Mouth in 1884?
    Seriously Peter…I know you keep saying that you care about the whole basin….but nearly all of your arguments indicate that you only truly care about SA getting more fresh water and you only repeat arguments you have read/heard that have that goal in mind.
    SA has its own set of problems along with many other areas in the basin.
    We are NOT going to solve any of them by pretending we have an ‘environmental’ problem or pretending that we can only use what we have now.
    That just advances a ‘rob peter to pay paul’ mindset.

  62. Peter R. Smith OAM December 8, 2011 at 12:33 pm #

    Hi Debbie,
    Re, “I agree that SA irrigators are efficient….but so are all irrigators in the MDB” sorry, that statement is crap, South Australian irrigators’ changed from flood irrigation and open channels to micro irrigation and pressurized mains, using less than 50% of their allocation and are happy for this unused water to stay in the river as environmental water to flush salt out through the Murray Mouth, that’s efficient!
    And in 1968 SA self imposed a cap on take from the River Murray that cap being 1820-Gigalitres increased to 1850-Gigalitres after the completion of Dartmouth. Since the early 70’s diversions have been increasing diversions in the Basin NSW by 1600-Gigalitres, Victoria by 600-Gigalitres and SA by 100-Gigalitres so it can be seen that Victoria and SA have managed there water extractions more efficiently.
    There is no efficiency using open channel irrigation and measuring from farm-gate!
    Get rid of the open channels’.
    Re, “Especially in areas where the channels DO NOT LEAK” that’s a pretty big statement and I realise about gravity but what I am most concerned about is efficient water use!
    Re, “Isn’t one of the major complaints about the piping in SA that the water deliver is too expensive because of pumping and piping costs?” and yes but having an entitlement to extract water which is at 5000EC is not much good and having to pay in excess of $100K for water is not viable and if that problem is encountered then the irrigator must weigh up the odds.
    The MDBA Plan is not about end of system flows as Craig Knowles removed that idea.
    Re, “SA has its own set of problems along with many other areas in the basin. We are NOT going to solve any of them by pretending we have an ‘environmental’ problem or pretending that we can only use what we have now.
    That just advances a ‘rob peter to pay Paul’ mindset” and I am certainly not pushing that we have “an ‘environmental’ problem” but we will have if the Lower River Murray becomes a saline mess.

  63. debbie December 8, 2011 at 1:46 pm #

    Peter,
    That is just a ridiculous statement:

    Re, “I agree that SA irrigators are efficient….but so are all irrigators in the MDB” sorry, that statement is crap, South Australian irrigators’ changed from flood irrigation and open channels to micro irrigation and pressurized mains, using less than 50% of their allocation and are happy for this unused water to stay in the river as environmental water to flush salt out through the Murray Mouth, that’s efficient!

    What makes you think that the same has not been done elsewhere in areas where drip irrigation and micro irrigation can be used because of the type of crops that are grown?
    EXACTLY the same has happened in my area in the permanent planting areas. EXACTLY!

    Has it occured to you that when growing broad irrigation crops like corn or wheat or canola or oats or soya beans or broad acre vegetable crops like pumpkins and onions or pasture for stock like sheep, cattle etc….that micro irrigation and pressurised piping is NOT efficient or useful?
    These are not permanent crops…they are rotated with each other and also accross landholdings.
    Even though they don’t use pressurised piping and micro irrigation….because that would be totally ridiculous…..they too have created enormous water efficiencies and returned water to the environment….in terms of actual volume, rather than meaningless percentages….THEY HAVE RETURNED WAY MORE!!!!!
    The figure from the Murrumbidgee is way higher than the SA figure….just for a start!
    Look it up Peter.
    You need to get over your parochialism…. please take the blinkers off Peter.

  64. Peter R. Smith OAM December 8, 2011 at 2:13 pm #

    Hi Debbie,
    I know the same has been done in many areas but I am sorry if the water is sourced via open channels it is not efficient end of story!
    I do not believe broad acre crops such as you mention, “crops like corn or wheat or canola or oats” are crops that should must be irrigated, maybe they are being grown in the wrong area!
    Many crops are being grown in areas not suited to their growth maybe it’s time to re evaluate where some crops are grown.
    Re, “You need to get over your parochialism…. please take the blinkers off Peter” I am a Basin person but believe we are doing our best with what we have and as I have given you my ideas for change in SA what about your ideas for your area where ever that is.

  65. debbie December 8, 2011 at 2:47 pm #

    On what do you base your belief that those crops should not be grown there Peter?
    They have been grown there and irrigated there for 100 years in my patch…and nearly as long in several others.
    It is perfectly sustainable, perfectly efficient and also underpins much of the socio economic fabric of the surrounding communities.
    In the process, the irrigation networks and practices have become ever more efficient.
    Are you saying that 100 years of proud irrigation development which actually feeds Australians and others around the world and also contributes significantly to Australia’s GDP should be stopped because you don’t believe it should be grown there?
    Do you actually think that NOT growing these crops in these areas would actually solve anything?
    Really?
    Open channels are not the enemy in the ‘evaporation’ nor the ‘efficiency’ argument.
    Most of SA’s irrigation comes from a masive open channel called the Murray River. To get that water to SA, the losses due to inefficiency are just horrendous….have you ever looked that figure up Peter?
    How inefficient can you possibly get?
    Leaky open channels are a problem and they need to be repaired.
    The evaporation losses in efficient channel networks are absolutely negligible in the big picture and there is no way to justify piping and pressurising them for negligible savings.
    The increased cost of delivery would render the actual work redundant and therefore a waste of tax payer money.
    If you want to talk about problems with evaporation and efficiency…guess what I’m tempted to say about a major evaporation problems in your neck of the woods?
    You are still wearing SA coloured blinkers Peter.

  66. Peter R. Smith OAM December 8, 2011 at 4:50 pm #

    Hi Debbie,
    I really believe we should look at what we grow and where and ensure whatever it is it must be most efficient per litre of water used and I realise change is always rejected but sometimes is necessary.
    Just in case you didn’t realise all of the Rivers and tributaries in the Basin are natural water courses and evaporation from such is normal.
    And stating the evaporation from channels is negligible, “take off the rose coloured glasses” that evaporation is calculated to be 40% of SA’s entitlement i.e. 740-Gigalitres.
    I am happy for you to mention, “evaporation problems in your neck of the woods” as Menindee Lakes evaporate 43% more than Lakes Alexandrina and Albert.

  67. Johnathan Wilkes December 8, 2011 at 8:15 pm #

    Debbie,
    I think you are more or less wasting your time conversing with Peter.
    The way I read his posts, all that matters is the water for SA, as far as he is concerned.

    As to the value of irrigation, and who decides what to grow, I think even the silliest farmer would know when to use irrigation water to profit.

    And just to remind Peter, re irrigation area on the whole of earth.

    “The irrigated area occupies world wide about 16% of the total agricultural area, but the crop yield is roughly 40% of the total yield.[7] Hence, the productivity of irrigated land is 3.6 times that of unirrigated land. The monetary value of the yield of irrigated crops is some 6.6 times that of unirrigated crops. In irrigated land one grows crops with higher market values.”

    Without irrigation of some sort, many nations would starve.
    The current area under irrigation worldwide is about 300 million hectares.
    Unfortunately there is a limit to the area we can irrigate and grow food on, to insist that the available water here in OZ be flushed out to sea to placate a noisy section for political reason is insane.

  68. Peter R. Smith OAM December 8, 2011 at 10:23 pm #

    Hi Johnathan,
    Thank you for your input and as informative as it is you don’t understand me or the Lower River Murray from Lock 1 to the Southern Ocean.
    Re, “The way I read his posts, all that matters is the water for SA, as far as he is concerned” it certainly is not only about water for South Australia but the health of the entire Murray Darling Basin and if the stretch of the Murray River from Lock 1 (Blanchetown) becomes a saline waste land as it will if the Barrages are removed the Basin will slowly die.
    And re, “Unfortunately there is a limit to the area we can irrigate and grow food on”, THAT IS TRUE, and you clown I am not advocating/insisting, “to insist that the available water here in OZ be flushed out to sea” that is madness but if the MDB doesn’t flush to the sea, the 2-million tonnes of salinity gathered per year, we will have destroyed the livelihoods of millions of people and removed their source of potable water.
    And also what a load of crap, “to placate a noisy section for political reason is insane” the most noise about the MDBA Plan is not coming out of my area, i.e. Lock 1 to the Southern Ocean.
    I am glad you have joined this debate but be fair don’t critise my area until you understand it, and if you have any grand ideas put them forward as I have laid my cards on the table.

  69. debbie December 8, 2011 at 10:37 pm #

    I think you’re right Jonathon,
    How much water do you own Peter?
    What sort of efficient farming operation do you run Peter?
    I actually already know the answer to that….it’s extremely easy to figure it out.
    It would only be a non irrigator and a non farmer who would make such an ill informed and supercilious statement about what farmers should and shouldn’t grow and base it on a completely nonsensical usubstantiated statement like the last comment you made.
    If you actually possessed some practical experience in these areas you would know how totally ridiculous your last remark was.

  70. Peter R. Smith OAM December 9, 2011 at 7:35 am #

    Hi Debbie,
    You feel pretty good as now you have someone else to help continue to feed and support you with your Eastern States point of view, keep it coming.
    Re, “How much water do you own Peter? What sort of efficient farming operation do you run Peter?” you are partly right I don’t OWN any water and yes I am NOT an irrigator.
    I am just a ordinary bloke who has lived on or near and been associated with the River Murray since 1945 and has travelled widely throughout the MDB who is now retired and wanting to see a plan for the future management of the MDB.
    My only interest is the MDB its future in the best interests of ALL Australians so as all future generations can succeed and enjoy the fruits of a sustainable future.
    As far as water is concerned all I and other South Australians’ wants/needs is enough to cover all needs i.e. that is our cap 1850-Gigalitres and whatever is available to continue to flush the 2-million tonnes of salinity/contaminates that travel from the source of the MDB out through the MDB’s mouth.
    Today I will attend the first of the MDBA community meeting’s at Murray Bridge so may be I will learn something about SA’s future??

  71. Debbie December 9, 2011 at 8:09 pm #

    Let me paraphrase that for you Peter,
    All I and all South Australians want is to keep all our water entitlements as they are currently capped and recap and use your entitlements, because you are greedy upstream irrigators, to flush out South Ausstralia’s salt problem!
    Your previous statement further justifies that because you dont believe we should grow our crops where we grow them anyway and we need to change what we do. . . but you don’t because you are far more advanced in irrigation techniques than anyone else.
    For someone who insists he is not parochial. . . that is hilarious.
    I give up.
    Unfortunately for SA, if your politicians and people like you keep up those parochial arguments. . . you actually stand to lose the most.
    That would be very sad, SA is a beautiful place.

  72. Peter R. Smith OAM December 10, 2011 at 4:07 am #

    Hi Debbie,
    Isn’t that lovely bit of crap, don’t try to placate me Debbie and I am certainly not blaming, your words, “because you are greedy upstream irrigators, to flush out South Australia’s salt problem” as South Australia’s salt problems.
    The salt problems are the BASIN’S problem and we all must take responsibility and make the effort to continue the flushing process.
    At yesterday’s meeting with the MDBA it was made abundantly clear that the Barrages are staying though if removed the Lames Alexandrina and Albert would be HYPER SALINE within two years.
    That would equate to the loss of in excess of some $25-30-million dollars of lost industry that relies on those lakes for useable water and that is if the EC level in Lake Alexandrina rise above 1000EC and Lake Albert gets above 1500EC though Lake Albert is at the present time over 5000EC.
    It would also mean the 36 licensed fisherpersons would be out of work as even the pippie (i.e. cockles) would not survive.
    If that were to occur the Lower River Murray Lock 1 (Blanchetown) to the Southern Ocean would become a saline wasteland only good recreation boating and no fishing!
    This would necessitate the shift of all pumping stations which supply potable water to SA’s South-East, to towns and properties West of and around Lake Albert, all properties East of the River which also source water from the River, all of the towns East of the River and not to mention the two main pumping stations Mannum and Murray Bridge supplying water to the greater population of SA including Adelaide and all of the suburbs within a radius of about 70-kilometres and thousands of businesses which include electricity producing plants and much more would be without water.
    That would also stop all irrigation from the Lower River Murray and the loss of most flora and fauna that rely on freshwater and all back waters and flood plains below Lock 1 rotten stinking saline cesspools.
    I would not like the future for, not worrying about myself, but future generations, we MUST leave this area all the better for us being here!
    Re, “Unfortunately for SA, if your politicians and people like you keep up those parochial arguments . . . you actually stand to lose the most. That would be very sad, SA is a beautiful place” yes it would be sad no it would be worse than that it would be carastrophic.

  73. Debbie December 10, 2011 at 10:25 am #

    Peter,
    I wonder if I can ever explain how parochial your arguments truly are.
    You have just explained how expensive and therefore inefficient it is to replace the renewable resource of gravity. That is the major reason why you claim it is the wrong approach for SA.
    The remainder of your arguments are based on your criticism of those greedy, inefficient Eastern States because they don’t pipe and pump.
    Crikey Peter.
    Doesn’t that make it obvious that is not the best plan for anyone?
    Your inefficient channel argument is mostly a nonsense.
    There are some areas that need work because they leak not because they evaporate.
    Has it occured to you that the channels and canals you are criticising also support a plethoria of native fauna and flora and have done so for over 100 years on many places? Actually longer than the environment that the barrages have created?
    If SA wants to keep those barrages and a fresh water solution SA can go right ahead in my opinion, as you rightly claim, that is SA’s decision.
    My HUGE problem with your argument is that you claim it is upstream’s fault that those Lakes and the lower reaches of the Murray cannot be maintained as ideal in a prolonged drought.
    That is not the problem Peter.
    If you dont wake up to that, next time you will have exactly the same problem.
    You have fallen for some clever political and parochial rhetoric that has no basis in practical reality.
    Your arguments are exacerbating the problem, not solving them.

  74. Peter R. Smith OAM December 10, 2011 at 10:42 am #

    Hi Debbie,
    I know it is hard for you to understand I am not critising anybody accept those who are adamant that the Barrages must be removed and it is not, “SA’s decision” it would have to be a decision by all Basin States, the Federal Government and the MDBA. I regret to inform you that those listed are not making any moves to remove the Barrages.
    As for your point, “You have just explained how expensive and therefore inefficient it is to replace the renewable resource of gravity” do you mean to tell me that if the Barrages were removed none of the consequences I have mentioned would happen, take off your rose coloured glasses.
    I don’t care how long the channels have been there they are inefficient and as the MDBA Plan aims for 85% efficiency we all have to make changes and when the MDBA tell us the Barrages have got to be removed we will look at their arguments.

  75. debbie December 10, 2011 at 1:56 pm #

    No Peter,
    That was the complete opposite to what I said.
    How about you read what I said again.
    I don’t think you have to remove the barrages…. that is not actually not my call…it’s SA’s….but I do think you need to look at extra options next time we are all faced with a prolonged drought. Maybe they need to be upgraded and managed differently? I don’t know….I just know that keeping the staus quo will not protect everything you claim you want to protect next time we are faced with low inflows. I also know that SA has an option that the rest of the basin does not have.
    Despite what you seem to think…..upstream cannot protect the lakes next time we are faced with a prolonged drought unless we build more storages specifically for that purpose…same goes for the Macquarie Marshes, the Menindee Lakes, The Barwah Millewa forest and numerous other wetland sites.
    It is more critical where those lakes are because they are at the end of the system and also settled by human enterprises.
    You fail to understand that WE HAD NO FRESH WATER EITHER!!!!! We couldn’t have possibly stolen it from you or from the environment because WE DIDN’T HAVE ANY!!!!!!
    There was only water available for critical supplies, stock and domestic and some permanent plantings that had high security allocations…in our dams there was 3 YEARS WORTH of critical supplies for SA…..how about you actually recognise what was done and stop whinging about something we could do nothing about??????
    It didn’t rain Peter…there were no inflows.
    If it wasn’t for the storage and infrastructure we have in place now….the Murray, the Murrumbidgee, the Lachlan, the Edwards, the Darling would all have run dry at some point. The lower Murray would have dried up first.
    Miraculously it was only the Lachlan that had to be shut down for a short period of time.
    Piping and pressurising channels upstream will not deliver what you want and just put further farming enterprises out of business. Your own SA argument proves that.
    Taking 40% of productive water from purpose built irigation communities will not save your lakes or the lower reaches of the Murray in the next prolonged drought….it will only severely jeopardise vibrant and productive communities in years when there are sufficient inflows for all.
    The ‘environmental’ argument is a complete political and parochial nonsense.
    Your ‘inefficient channel’ argument is also a complete nonsense and that is also why SA does not want to do any more piping and pumping.
    You are judging efficiency or lack thereof on one criteria only….if you actually owned an irrigation property or ran an irrigation system or even worked in an irigation infrastructure company you would know that. If you actually understood how different crops are grown and what their returns per ML as well as per HA are, you would also understand that.
    You also seem to not understand that EVERY SINGLE DROP is measured and accounted for in all the areas the MDBA is expecting to accquire water….EVERY SINGLE DROP RIGHT AT THE POINT OF EXTRACTION!!!! Your ‘farm gate’ argument is also a complete nonsense for the vast majority of irrigation enterprises.
    There are a few riparian licences which that does not apply to….many in SA incidentally….but they are not the problem and they never were the amount of savings that would achieve by demanding measurement at extraction is miniscule.
    Instead of repeating propagandist nonsense from the ACF et al….how about you go and talk to the people who have actually worked in water management and run all sorts of different improved efficient systems and who have already donated huge amounts of water towards the lower Murray’s needs????????
    Your assumptions and your parochial arguments are actually part of the problem Peter, not part of the solution.
    As Jen points out in this post they are based on meaningless long term averages and are completely political and completely impractical.
    This whole nightmare was driven by politics and was also a knee jerk political response to the deepening drought.
    If we keep arguing from that platform….we solve absolutely nothing…..for you or for us.

  76. Johnathan Wilkes December 10, 2011 at 2:34 pm #

    Debbie

    “Taking 40% of productive water from purpose built irrigation communities will not save your lakes ”
    Tens of thousands plus secondary jobs vanish for no good reason or outcome!

    Compare that to his:
    “It would also mean the 36 licensed fisherpersons would be out of work ”

    This government, or ALL governments for that matter would put may more than that out of work if it suited them, without giving it a second thought as was demonstrated not so long ago with the cattle export.

    I can’t be bothered to talk to him, I put him in the same group as Gavin, time unfortunately passed them by and done its damage, without them realising it.

    That is why I don’t even bother to return his insults, and believe me Peter, I can match you insult for insult and come out on top!

    Votes are what matter Debbie, and there are more in Adelaide than there are in the irrigation towns!
    Good luck to you

  77. Peter R. Smith OAM December 10, 2011 at 7:46 pm #

    Hi Debbie,
    The call to remove the Barrages is as I said not SA’s call but a decision between, “Basin States, the Federal Government and the MDBA” and I regret if I am wrong, “I don’t think you have to remove the barrages…. that is not actually not my call” no it’s not your call” you are right about that but be careful and upset JM as she believes they must be removed as do her backers some of the irrigation industry.
    I whole heartedly agree the Barrages need to be upgraded and computer automated and managed better, at least we agree on one thing.
    Re, “I also know that SA has an option that the rest of the basin does not have” yes but that option is seawater and if you had that option would you take seawater?
    Re, “You fail to understand that WE HAD NO FRESH WATER EITHER! We couldn’t have possibly stolen it from you or from the environment because WE DIDN’T HAVE ANY!” but would you have accepted seawater?
    Re, “If it wasn’t for the storage and infrastructure we have in place now” “The lower Murray would have dried up first” wrong, if we didn’t have the infrastructure we would have been the last to dry up!
    Re open Channels, just cover the channels!
    Re, “Your ‘inefficient channel’ argument is also a complete nonsense and that is also why SA does not want to do any more piping and pumping” could you please explain.
    Re, “how about you go and talk to the people who have actually worked in water management and run all sorts of different improved efficient systems and who have already donated huge amounts of water towards the lower Murray’s needs” I’m sorry I talk to the industry persons down here but next time I travel through the Basin I will look you and others in your area up if you like but I don’t know from what area you come.
    I regret I do not take anything “Jen” says about the Lower River Murray seriously as she does not understand or talk to people against her views when she visits.
    Hi Johnathan,
    And good luck to you to, re, “Votes are what matter Debbie, and there are more in Adelaide than there are in the irrigation towns!” correct it’s about votes but what does this Federal Government care there is not enough votes in the bush for them to care and city dwellers don’t really care either, where did you say you are from?
    Re, “Compare that to his: “It would also mean the 36 licensed fisherpersons would be out of work” thank you for your selfishness I can see you don’t understand that these license holders are third, fourth, fifth, sixth and in a couple of cases seventh generation fisher persons who have families and employ staff and whose catch is sold throughout the Eastern States.
    Keep it up Johnathan I love sparing with clowns, where did you say you are from?

  78. Debbie December 11, 2011 at 8:07 am #

    Peter,
    The rest of the basin doesn’t have the sea water option. Your question makes no sense. You make it sound like sea water is a dangerous pollutant. How could that be the case if the area traditionally did have sea water when flows were low?

    My area in the MIA has 1000s of generational irrigators. My husband is 5th generation. Your argument about the fisherman is yet another parochial nonsense.

    The lower Murray would have dried up long before other areas . . . unless of course the barrages were not there. The inflows are the key to that answer. . . look up the history. . . the lower Murray was notorious for drying up before our current systems were put in place.
    The bidgee etc lasted way longer in low inflow sequences.
    In the end, your arguments are all about you and your patch. You claim that you care about the whole basin but none of your arguments indicate that. You assume incorrectly that the integrity of the environment and the socio-economic future of inland Australia can only be judged by what happens at the end of the system. That is not only parochial and pandering to unproductive ACF political propaganda, if you actually think about it, it is illogical, completely illogical.
    No one says that SA doesn’t need protection. SA is vulnerable.
    Your arguments and solutions however will do nothing to protect the lower end of the system next time we face prolonged drought.
    Your arguments just restrict the viability of inland communities when there is sufficient inflows for all.
    That’s the main point of Jen’s post.
    They are based on meaningless long term averages.
    The MDB has NEVER EVER EVER respected long term averages.
    SA needs to come up with the best solution for the next prolonged drought which does not restrict water usage upstream when there are no shortages.
    I have tried to make that same point for the whole time.
    Your arguments are just fuelling the parochial and political fire.
    It is not helping to solve the REAL problem.

  79. Peter R. Smith OAM December 11, 2011 at 9:15 am #

    Hi Debbie,
    I know, “The rest of the basin doesn’t have the sea water option” what I asked was if you had the option, would you take the sea water option?
    Re, “You make it sound like sea water is a dangerous pollutant. How could that be the case if the area traditionally did have sea water when flows were low?” we are talking in the NOW and since the Locks and the Barrages were completed sea water has not been the option and if the Lakes Alexandrina and Albert were to become saline with an EC level the same as the sea ALL water to lock 1 would become non potable!
    Re, “My area in the MIA has 1000s of generational irrigators. My husband is 5th generation. Your argument about the fisherman is yet another parochial nonsense” so does that mean if the traditional generational activity were taken away he and the others wouldn’t care?
    Re, “The lower Murray would have dried up long before other areas, unless of course the barrages were not there. The inflows are the key to that answer, look up the history, the lower Murray was notorious for drying up before our current systems were put in place” what I was trying to point out that without the massive infrastructure the Basin would empty from the North-East and then seawater would invade.
    Re, “In the end, your arguments are all about you and your patch” and yours are not, spare me the crap.
    Re, “Your arguments just restrict the viability of inland communities when there is sufficient inflows for all” but not enough to save or help the Lower River Murray including the Lakes and the Coorong?
    Debbie, can you PLEASE ANSWER JUST ONE MAIN QUESTION WHAT IS YOUR SOLUTION BECAUSE I HAVE PUT FORWARD MY SOLUTIONS?

  80. debbie December 11, 2011 at 11:27 am #

    Peter,
    I give up.
    You must not have understood anything I have said if you think you need to ask that last question.
    I usually don’t have a probelm with communicating.
    I apologise profusely if I have appeared to be obtuse…that was not my intention.
    This is my last attempt…..
    Our problem is a lack of storage and infrastructure….we no longer have enough of either to survive a prolonged drought.
    We do not have an “ENVIRONMENTAL” problem….our natural ephemeral wetland environments have just proved in a spectacular manner that they are perfectly capable of surviving a prolonged drought. The native fauna and flora are back in plague proportions.
    OUR PROBLEM IS THE HUMAN ENVIRONMENT AND THE HUMAN WATER DEPENDANT ENVIRONMENTAL ASSETS.
    This Water Act 2007 and this MDBP is trying to solve the WRONG PROBLEM and using the WRONG RESOURCES to do it.
    Not only will they NOT solve SA’s vulnerability problem they are also unnecessarily threatening the viability of perfectly sustainable, purpose built irrigation communities which have been in operation for 100 years and more and who work in harmony with the environment and who have enhanced and widened the habitat of native fauna and flora as well as produced food and fibre for Australia and the rest of the world.
    We need to do more of that NOT LESS!!!!!
    Our problem is a stupid political and parochial mindset and the solution will also have to involve changing that stupid unproductive mindset.
    And BTW Peter…I cannot believe how ridiculous your question to me is regarding the sea water option. It is a completely redundant question. We don’t have that option…so therefore we can’t choose it even if you ask me if we would or wouldn’t…..WE DON’T HAVE THE OPTION!
    We do not live by the sea and our eco systems has not been influenced by the sea for millenium.
    Our natural wetland environment is EPHEMERAL and is part of this land of drought and flooding rains.
    Your natural environment has a somewhat different history to ours!

    May I also offer you this link which includes articles that try and keep an open mind about the problems we are facing…I suspect that one of the articles may send you into a rant….but I would request that you keep your mind open and think in terms of what could be done to negotiate outcomes that would benefit all….rather than trying to pretend that we can solve the issues we have if we argue from a political ‘environmental’ platform’.

    http://nswic.org.au/pdf/Journal/productive_water_summer_2011.pdf

  81. Peter R. Smith OAM December 11, 2011 at 5:00 pm #

    Hi Debbie,
    Re, “I give up. You must not have understood anything I have said if you think you need to ask that last question.
    I usually don’t have a problem with communicating” no Debbie I have understood everything you have said and as for you usually not having a problem with communicating now are not talking to someone who is not signing from you’re or JM hymn book.
    I agree we don’t have an environmental problem and as for SA’s vulnerability problem that must be shared by the Basin as if the Lower River Murray becomes completely un-potable that situation will get so much worse for the whole Basin.
    As for, “100 years and more and who work in harmony with the environment and who have enhanced and widened the habitat of native fauna and flora as well as produced food and fibre for Australia and the rest of the world” we lost over a hundred dairies etc that had been operating since before the Federation drought!
    And you didn’t have the option of seawater BUT IF YOU DID WOULD YOU HAVE TAKEN THAT OPTION and of course that answer would have to be NO! Therein lies the argument but you expected us to!
    I don’t live by the sea either but I would have had seawater or contaminated freshwater at my front door!
    Re storages we do not have anywhere to put a sizeable storage in SA sorry!
    I will read your supplied link and get back to you.

  82. RRG Lover December 23, 2011 at 11:35 pm #

    Peter, what don’t you understand? In the drought there was bugger all water being extracted from the system upstream – only critical human needs, stock and domestic and some high security water for permanent plantations, as there was in SA. There was no majical quanitities of water to send to SA.

    I used to work in a dairy factory employing 100 people that shut down in 2009 due to dairy farmers going out of business. This was the flow on affects from the vast number of dairy farms that stopped supplying milk, and was well above SA lower lake’s 100 dairy farms. No rice was grown either, which was frequently stated in SA media as the issue (bad upsteam irrigators). This is why Debbie states the need to have additional storages, if SA wants to drought proof the lower lakes in the future. If there are no additional storages to supply water to SA the hypersaline lower lake issue and associated acid sulphate soils will not be corrected without removing the barrages.

    There are solutions to storages to supply this water if you would like to know! I would also like to know what you think of Ian Motts engineering solutions for the lower lakes.

    . The river would have been dry without upstream storages. The only way SA would have had water was with more storages to supply water for SA. Do you understand? Hume Dam went down to 3% full!

  83. S(r)ambo January 14, 2012 at 3:32 pm #

    Its not that hard, river lives then so does the communitys, river dies then we all loss, I say let it die and nature will slowly fix it when humans are not raping it, it humans learnt from being told only we wouldnt need all these prisons, make your bed you lay in it, we have to pay people for their eurocentric farming styles on the wrong side of the world, they should pay to help repair the river not tax payers, put some of those millions back into the land, not just infrustrcture aimed at monetary gains.

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