Artificial Salinity Target for Artificial Lower Lake

IN the newly released Murray Darling Basin Plan there is a proposed target salinity for Lake Alexandrina. The plan suggests this target salinity value to be measured at Milang:

“The inclusion of a salinity target for Lake Alexandrina will provide for the management of salinity in both Lake Alexandrina and Lake Albert. The Milang location is proposed as there is a historical record for this site, and it is not influenced by the day-to-day operations of the barrages which could result in short-term salinity fluctuations at sites closer to the mouth.

The proposed Basin Plan has been amended to introduce a new target value for salinity for managing water flows in the Lower Lakes (measured at Milang) of 600mg/L for 95% of the time.”

Milang is located on the western edge of Lake Alexandrina, as you can see on the map.

The salinity target value of 600mg/L can be compared to the salinity of seawater that is about 35,000 mg/L.

In other words, the target value is about 1.7% of the salinity of the ocean.

My name is Mr Koala and I have a problem with this target.

The problem is that Lake Alexandrina in its natural state is part of an estuary. It was transformed into an artificial fresh water reservoir by building a set of walls at the river mouth completed in 1940. Walls are not natural, and neither is it natural for Lake Alexandrina to be continuously full of fresh water.

The natural state of Lake Alexandrina is that of a coastal lagoon forming part of the river estuary with widely fluctuating salinity levels.

I know this because I asked the Murray Darling Basin Authority for records of salinity for Milang BEFORE the barrages were closed in 1940. They kindly gave me records for a two year period between 1937 and 1939.

I studied these records, and they show that the average salinity level at Milang was 38% seawater!

In fact, there were times during this two-year period when the salinity was 100% seawater.

Even a koala can see that before they built those concrete walls, Lake Alexandrina was part of a salty estuary.

Then someone told me about the diatoms. These are algae that live in water. Some diatom species like freshwater and some species like salty water. Others are happy either way. If you take a sediment core from the bottom of a lake it can give you a record of what the saltiness of the lake was like hundreds or thousands of years ago. There are some studies of sediment cores and the diatoms they contain for Lake Alexandrina. I have studied this very carefully for the past 6 months. That’s a long time in the life of a koala.

Anyway, all this tells us is that as we travel into the distant past, over 7,000 years back in time, Lake Alexandrina was even saltier than it was in the 1930s, before they built the walls to keep the ocean out. The records certainly don’t tell us that long ago it was a fresh water lake.

Its pretty plain, even for koalas, that if you want to return Lake Alexandrina to its natural state there is only one thing to do. Knock down those artificial concrete walls and let the sea come back in.

Another famous wall was torn down in 1989, and afterwards everyone was a lot happier. The koalas say:

“Tear down that wall, Mr politician”

*******
Thank you to Susan at www.lakesneedwater.org for the loan of the map.

71 Responses to Artificial Salinity Target for Artificial Lower Lake

  1. Schiller Thurkettle May 29, 2012 at 6:58 am #

    There’s a really big problem with simply removing the walls. The problem is that this will not lead to “management of salinity”. To do a proper job of salinity management, you’ll need a bureaucracy, various public hearings to ‘foster public debate’, control of water flow coupled with salinity measurement stations, some money for NGOs so they can ‘study’ the proposal instead of protesting against it, and lots of money for various consultants, civil engineers, and construction companies to build all the culverts, conduits and levees that will provide the physical means of salinity management.

    And that’s not a complete list of problems. For the full list, contact the NGOs.

  2. Debbie May 29, 2012 at 7:48 am #

    Good one Schiller!
    Maybe if it’s put to NGOs and State bureaucracies that way they may start considering all the proposals about managing those Lakes in a sensible, environmentally responsible manner and stop going on and on and on in this parochial, political manner and maybe work together!
    Of course…..that means it’s gonna cost us….and if it’s up to these people it’s gonna cost us heaps!
    🙂

  3. spangled drongo May 29, 2012 at 5:36 pm #

    O/T, sorry Jen but isn’t it good to see Tim Flanners, gav and co having a frosty time with Pollytown getting its coldest May in 51 years.

    Average min, 3c. May 2012, -0.2c.

    Oh, the pain, the irony, the frost bite!

  4. gavin May 29, 2012 at 6:03 pm #

    SD; despite what you say, we had the best Autumn day I can remember and it started quite early.

    Re the latest draft MDB plan; our water minister said yesterday we Canberrians did ok, no further cuts!

    But the place is about as dry as ever. Last week after an offer from the street I couldn’t refuse, we had two very tall green spruce specimen trees removed from the front yard. The larger one suffered terribly during the recent drought and I lost all silver birch trees at the same time. Tall dead trees close to the house are dangerous to remove and limbs often fall unexpectedly.

    Cheers.

  5. Johnathan Wilkes May 29, 2012 at 6:51 pm #

    Why anyone would plant a silver birch anywhere in the south of OZ and expect it to thrive, is beyond me. It needs cool and moist.
    Oh it’s you gav now I see!

  6. Dave Shorter May 29, 2012 at 7:48 pm #

    Nailed it Schiller!

  7. Peter R. Smith OAM MANNUM May 29, 2012 at 7:52 pm #

    Hi all,
    It’s great to be back reading threads from people who do not understand the Lower River Murray, the Lakes Alexandrina and Albert.
    Mr. Koalas, Ms Marohasy’s alto ego, is correct when she says, “The natural state of Lake Alexandrina is that of a coastal lagoon forming part of the river estuary with widely fluctuating salinity levels” but man has changed the entire Murray Darling Basin for their own good (And the good of all of Australia) changed the River Murray from the source to the Southern Ocean, changed forever beyond return to pre white man’s rape and pillage mentality!
    A/The management of salinity would, to be totally effective be required prior to tributaries entering the Basin’s Rivers and streams.
    If only salinity entering the River Murray below Lock 1was all that flowed into Lake Alexandrina there would not be a salinity problem as even minor flushing would eliminate the problem so the irrigators who rely on Lakes Alexandrina and Albert could successfully return to their irrigation practices.
    I agree, “Thank you to Susan at http://www.lakesneedwater.org for the loan of the map” even though means nothing/zip/zilch all the lakesneedwater group want is water, oh sorry, seawater.
    When are those who continue to push for the removal of the Barrages going to bring their thinking into the 21st Century, if the Barrages are removed and Lock Zero not constructed prior to the Barrages removal the Lower River Murray will become non-potable ie, no freshwater access!

  8. GaGa May 29, 2012 at 7:55 pm #

    Give Professor Tim a break. I checked out his scientific publication record on Web of Science since 2005.

    His last 20 publications listed there published include 19 book reviews in the New York Review of Books.

    Impressive.

  9. mister koala May 29, 2012 at 9:16 pm #

    Dear Mr Smith

    I am not a “she” and I am not an alter ego.

    Please look at the evidence and think before you write.

    Lake Alexandrina never has been a natural fresh water lake during the past 7000 years

    The measurements of salinity at Milang in the late 1930s coupled with the diatom records from cores taken from the lake sediments clearly show this is the case.

    For some reason you seem to be in denial about these simple pieces of evidence.

    Koala

  10. Dave Shorter May 30, 2012 at 8:43 am #

    Peter,
    Are you involved in the “white mans rape and pillage mentality” that you speak of ?

  11. Debbie May 30, 2012 at 9:58 am #

    Yes Dave,

    These ‘white mans’ who are into ‘rape and pillage’….sound absolutely terrifying!!!!
    Or as Robert often says…..
    IT”S WORSE THAN WE THOUGHT!!!!!!!

  12. toby May 30, 2012 at 10:08 am #

    Peter, it is obviously important that water from the murray is “potable”, but isnt it also important to recognise that high salinity problems in the lower lakes coupled with other issues during droughts could be overcome by bringing these lakes back to their natural state…and it is infact mans mismanagement of the lower lakes, not the river murray that is the cause of the problems in the lower lakes? Wouldnt it be easier to put in place another lock that prevents sea/ salty water reaching up river to the pumping stations?…or even potentially moving the pumping stations?…..Its not like it is unnatural for salty water to be seen as far up river as Morgan etc pre our mismanagement of the lower lakes?

  13. Peter R. Smith OAM MANNUM May 30, 2012 at 11:31 am #

    Hi whoever,
    I do look at the evidence and you are WRONG at certain times over the last 7000-years when there have been flooding rains in and around the, what we now call the Murray Darling Basin, and the Darling and the River Murray have been in flood the Lake would have been freshwater.
    Re, “For some reason you seem to be in denial about these simple pieces of evidence” I certainly am not as we all know the Lakes Alexandrina and Albert have both a freshwater and seawater history!

    Hi Dave,
    I believe since white man settled Australia we have all been guilty of ‘raping and pillaging’ this land and now we are paying the price.

    Hi Toby,
    Of course it is important that the River Murray that the entire waters of the Basin remain potable. As far as salinity and the Lakes Alexandrina and Albert are concerned the history over the last 7000-years tells us that the freshwater history is much longer than the seawater history. The management/mismanagement of the Lakes Alexandrina and Albert is in fact mismanagement of the Murray Darling Basin. I am sorry Toby but I doubt you have a total understanding of the Lower River Murray and whilst both constructing what we refer to as Lock Zero and moving the off takes would for those without a total understanding of the LRM solve the problem it would undoubtedly cause other problems.
    Firstly would/will be the cost of either constructing Lock Zero ball park figure $1-Billion moving the off takes a totally wild ball park figure $10-billion.
    Secondly the problems caused by seawater instead of freshwater could be mammoth one of them being riparian rights and the cost of potable water for use surrounding Lakes Alexandrina and Albert.
    Thirdly the cost of completely removing the Barrages and then keeping the River Murray mouth open.
    Re, “It’s not like it is unnatural for salty water to be seen as far up river as Morgan etc pre our mismanagement of the lower lake” not since our mismanagement but since the construction of the entire infrastructure from the source of the River Murray to the Southern Ocean so we can never return to natural again.

  14. Debbie May 30, 2012 at 1:27 pm #

    Hmmmm?
    I think we have someone here suffering from this disease:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Misanthropy
    Also….can’t seem to find the point of disagreement between Mr Koala and Peter re the history of the Lakes?
    Mr Koala is not saying they were always sea water.
    In a funny sort of way Mr Koala is saying this:
    ” as we all know the Lakes Alexandrina and Albert have both a freshwater and seawater history!”
    So his koalafications and research information look rather sound….even according to Peter.
    And in particular…when we look at the maps….that would be quite a high % of the seawater % bit in Lake Alexandrina particularly….. and particularly the further SW (?) you go….like where it’s naturally an esuarine/tidal environment perhaps?
    So who raped and pillaged what in particular?
    Also…how incredibly remarkable that the total wild ball park figure adds up to $10 Billion.
    Where have I heard that figure before?

  15. bazza May 30, 2012 at 1:31 pm #

    bit rough using 1937 to 39 – it was a dry time. Anyway since when was a return to the pristine the basis for anything?

  16. Peter R. Smith OAM MANNUM May 30, 2012 at 1:57 pm #

    Hi Debbie,
    I can assure you that the $ figures I put in as ball park figures are exactly that and it did not cross my mind as to any other figures and my figures add up to $11-billion and that could be too much or not enough.

  17. Debbie May 30, 2012 at 2:16 pm #

    Ah yes Bazza,
    That’s true….but it wasn’t the only dry time was it?….and neither was it only very dry times that the saltwater was present especially in Lake Alexandrina was it?
    I agree the return to the pristine is not necessarily a sensible basis for anything….but encating that ‘precautionary principle’ via international treaties and using it together with that “rape and pillage” argument is not a good basis for anything either is it?
    It is still about preserving something and calling it pristine….and in danger….and therefore… WORSE THAN WE THOUGHT!!!!!
    Neither is it a sensible basis to come up with a number based on long term averages…..when the system we’re talking about has zero respect for ‘long term averages’….and zero respect for human invented calendar points and zero respect for ‘international treaties’ that are based on ‘the environment’.
    So what would be a sensible basis Bazza?
    What’s the problem we really need to solve?

  18. toby May 30, 2012 at 2:20 pm #

    10-11 billion to build a lock and or move pumping stations seems like a ridiculous exageration of the cost….but i have ntg to support that. how many farmers rely on teh potable water for their livelihoods? why should people upstream have to reduce consumption so that the lower lakes can be kept in an artifical state?
    we need to grow food, humans need it. I would support a reduced popn in australia, that required less food to be produced. But while our economy is projected to be 35 million by 2030 I somehow think increasing food production will be vitally important to all australians and i struggle to see how keeping the fresh water lakes “potable” does our society any good at all ( except for those few rent seekers relying on this manmade problem).

    Our farmers are incredibly efficient at what they do but if we are not careful we will incresingly rely on imports and lose export revenue. Then where will teh funds come from to waste on renewable energy subsidies etc…?

    “Of course it is important that the River Murray that the entire waters of the Basin remain potable” why of course?…important that adelaide can have access to fresh drinking water…i agree. important that the lower lakes are fresh water….i am far from convinced and i dont believe you have made this case adequately yet.
    Self interest isnt distorting your thinking is it?

  19. bazza May 30, 2012 at 2:32 pm #

    ah Debbie, there aint no pleasing you.

  20. Dave Shorter May 30, 2012 at 2:34 pm #

    Debbie,
    If not misanthropy, sexism and racism at least.If black were substituted for white in Peter’s raping and pillaging sentece…….

  21. toby May 30, 2012 at 2:42 pm #

    Bazza says “Anyway since when was a return to the pristine the basis for anything?” given human impact not realistic and therefore agreed not a basis for anything…however do we need to think about how best to use our resources given our growing popn? I would think the answer is obviously yes?
    So next question….is keeping the lower lakes in a continual state of fresh water a sensible use of our water resources? To me the answer is obviously NO. Can you or anybody give me a good reason to change my mind? ( of course you are under no compulsion to do so but i assume thats why you come to the blog?)

  22. Debbie May 30, 2012 at 2:54 pm #

    ROFL!!!!
    Good one Dave. Maybe even black women????

    🙂 🙂 🙂

    And BTW Bazza…it isn’t actually me who keeps throwing up all these objections about everything.
    From you and Peter so far we have had the criticism….and from Peter in particular why this is all so very, very , very very dificult and worrying….I even partly agreed with what you said….you seem to have missed the major point of the post by Mr Koala and my fairly direct question and somehow only focused on the minor nit picky details and worried about some need to please me?
    As I mentioned at a previous post….it would be nice if you ever bothered to actually answer a fairly straightforward question, preferably minus the personal shots….that’s an easy way to please me…..
    They’re not particularly difficult questions but they do ask for you to focus on ‘solutions’ to these perplexing problems.

  23. hunter May 30, 2012 at 3:01 pm #

    That is not a lake, it is a bay.
    Here is a bay that is very similar to your lake
    https://maps.google.com/maps?q=matagorda+bay+map&hl=en&client=firefox-a&ie=UTF-8
    These bays have widely fluctuating salinity due to rainfall variability. How do greens justify the destruction of the bay system in Australia?

  24. Peter R. Smith OAM MANNUM May 30, 2012 at 3:10 pm #

    Hi Toby,
    As I have said before it’s about understand the Lower River Murray. When I asked previous water Minister how much she believed it would cost to build a lock her answer was about $1-billion. Regarding the pumping stations moving the 10 plus pumping stations to upstream/above Morgan would be a massive task as those pumps supply about 90% of South Australia’s potable water supply my guess was a ball park figure and it would be AT LEAST $10-billion. I am using the Victorian North-South pipeline as a guide and that was $1-billion.
    Re, “How many farmers rely on the potable water for their livelihoods” I would suggest over 300+ in the Lower River Murray.
    We do not expect, “Why should people upstream have to reduce consumption so that the lower lakes can be kept in an artificial state?” but why should those that rely on the Lower River Murray be treated any differently?
    Re, “Our farmers are incredibly efficient at what they do but if we are not careful we will increasingly rely on imports and lose export revenue” yes and in SA our irrigators are ultra efficient and our use/take from the River has not increased for over forty years but our production has!
    What do you mean by, “except for those few rent seekers relying on this manmade problem?”
    Re, “important that the lower lakes are fresh water. I am far from convinced and I don’t believe you have made this case adequately yet. Self interest isn’t distorting your thinking is it?”
    I can assure you, “Self interest isn’t distorting your thinking is it” no it isn’t as personally I will not be affected in any way accepting the Lower River Murray where I have lived most of my life will be irrevocably changed forever and why should the LRM be the stand out pick for ruination?
    And just for your interest a Murray Darling Basin Plan or not we in SA would (accept for periods of drought) be better of with no change as 6221-Gigalitres of water has flowed into SA each year for the last 60 odd years.

  25. Debbie May 30, 2012 at 5:44 pm #

    Peter,
    This may shock you, but this comment here:
    ‘we in SA would (accept for periods of drought) be better of with no change’
    Happens to apply in all the other states in the MDB too.

  26. gavin May 30, 2012 at 6:18 pm #

    Q to All; why should SA folk not have drinking water from their great Murray River all year round?

  27. Debbie May 30, 2012 at 6:56 pm #

    Who said they should not have drinking water Gavin?
    And after your previous comment about the fact that ACT contributes nothing at all…..why would you care?

  28. Peter R. Smith OAM MANNUM May 30, 2012 at 7:36 pm #

    Hi Debbie,
    No, that did not surprise me at all as we all just want to get the best outcome for all but it must be in the best interests of the Basin’s future.
    Re Gavin’s comment, “why should SA folk not have drinking water from their great Murray River all year round?”
    And Debbie in regard Gavin’s comment and then your comment, “Who said they should not have drinking water Gavin?”
    The answer to your comment is all those who want the Barrages removed or opened indifinitely!

  29. gavin May 30, 2012 at 8:35 pm #

    Peter; can you explain why the Barrages can’t be removed?

  30. Debbie May 30, 2012 at 11:03 pm #

    Of course they do Gavin.
    Who said they didn’t?

  31. Peter R. Smith OAM MANNUM May 31, 2012 at 8:06 am #

    Hi Gavin,
    As I have said many times on previous blog site as well as this site there is no physical reason the Barrages cannot be removed but by doing so the Lower River Murray Lock 1 (Blanchetown) to the Southern Ocean can/will become NON-POTABLE.
    It is time persons participating on this and other similar blog sites took the time to do the research to gain a complete understanding of the Lower River Murray the Lakes Alexandrina and Albert and The Coorong, the Southern Ocean tides and winds, the economic affect on the region which would be changed in a myriad of reasons.

  32. gavin May 31, 2012 at 9:17 am #

    Deb; I maintain our urban water diversion is the primary use of the MDB system and that requires quality control of the resource all the way to SA.

    “The Murrumbidgee River is one of Australia’s major rivers and many communities use it as their source of water. For decades, major towns upstream and downstream of Canberra, such as Cooma and Wagga Wagga, have been drawing water from the Murrumbidgee River, treating it and safely using it for drinking water supply”

    http://www.actew.com.au

  33. Sean May 31, 2012 at 11:32 am #

    Peter,
    Good to see you are still alive.
    Still cannot find your Lock Zero submission on the MDBA web site only your petition submission that doesn’t mention Lock Zero.
    I notice that by the MDBA setting a salinity target at Milang of 1,000 EC means that they have no intention of constructing LOCK ZERO. I wish all the people in your region from below Lock 1 down to the barrages the best of luck in the next drought. I notice that they have automated some of the current gates ( NOT 21st CENTURY TECHNOLOGY THOUGH ) on the Tauwitchere Barrage
    which can be operated from Goolwa.

  34. Sean May 31, 2012 at 12:29 pm #

    Hi Gavin,
    “Why the barrages cannot be removed”
    LOCK ZERO has to be built first below the Tailem Bend and Jervois pump stations as they supply :-

    South Australia’s
    Pump Stations &Pipelines
    Reference :- Alexandrina Local History Archive
    Interview
    Jim Marsh 27th. September,1999
    Barrage Superintendent at Goolwa.

    By pool you mean the back-up ?

    Yes, the back-up, it’s only 0.75 of metre above sea level and it backs all the way up to Blanchetown. All the major pump stations for the town, domestic or industrial, come out of this pool into Mannum, Adelaide, Murray Bridge, Onkaparinga, Tailem Bend, Keith, Barrossa Valley,Lower North and Yorke Peninsular. In drier years, like 1982, we supplied up to 90% of Adelaide’s water. Without the Murray and the pipelines, that wouldn’t happen. And without the barrages, that water there would not be able to be pumped.

    Swan Reach Pump Station

    It pumps water to Stockwell, it delivers water to the Barrosa Valley, Lower North and Yorke Peninsular.

    Mannum Pump Station

    Supplies Adelaide and Northern suburbs to Gawler. Adelaide Eastern suburbs to Kangaroo Creek through to Mannum.

    Murray Bridge Pump Station

    Adelaide Hills, and into the Onkaparinga River to top up Mount Bold Reservoir. Strathalbyn and the Lower Lakes. Mount Bold also tops up Happy Valley Reservoir.

    Tailem Bend Pump Station

    The Lower Lakes through to Keith.

    Myponga Reservoir (No River Murray Water)

    Supplies Southern Fleurieu Peninsula, Southern suburbs and currently tops up Happy Valley Reservoir.

    Jervois Pump Station

    Supplies irrigation water to Jervois, Langhorne Creek, Milang through to Currency Creek.

    1. Lock Zero It will eliminate the damage the Lower River Murray suffered during the drought. The Lower Lakes pool can then be lowered to 0.50 M AHD (now 0.75 M AHD) save 694 GL.
    2. Re-Engineering the barrage gates
    The Goolwa Barrage gates to be an automated system and with proper management will be able to control the water levels of Lakes Alexandrina and Albert. The pool level could be increased to 0.75 M AHD open the gates at low tide and flush the Goolwa channel out through the Mouth.
    3. Drought Lake Level a minimum of 0.15 M AHD
    The Lower Lakes during dry periods when the levels reach 0.15 M AHD the gates to be opened and allow sea water in to prevent levels dropping further. Gates during those intermediate dry years then only allow enough fresh water to be used to prevent hyper-salinity not water level. i.e. operation changed from maintaining levels to maintaining salinity below a set level. When there is plenty of water, levels could be maintained at present level of 0.75 M AHD if required.
    4. Lake Albert
    Lake Albert to become a transit lake by constructing a channel to the Coorong with an automated gate to allow flushing.
    Gavin it is point three that Peter I disagree but a few of us are trying work out what the EC levels for Lake Alexandrina would reach e.g. 0.20 M AHD and 0.30 M AHD the latter being a 50% mixture of fresh and sea water when the inflow into S.A. reaches just over the 11 GL per week as it did in the drought.

  35. Debbie May 31, 2012 at 4:25 pm #

    Gavin,
    Go and read the Water Sharing Plans.
    Town supplies, Stock and Domestic are critical supplies and as such have priority and always will.
    That is not the issue here….and will never be an issue.
    Even in the middle of the millenium drought there was enough critical supplies stored for SA for 3 YEARS!
    Against all odds, SA still had access to critical supplies from the Murray river.
    It is not critical supply water that SA is trying to take.
    Read Sean’s post and you may start to gain an understanding of the real issue and the real problem we need to solve.

  36. toby May 31, 2012 at 5:18 pm #

    Sean, thankyou for your very informative post.

    Would lock zero be placed below tailem bend?

    If I understand you correctly you support opening the barrages in times of drought to prevent hypersalinity( and release of toxic gas etc that builds up in the mud?), but would like to see the lakes maintained in a fresh water state for as much time as is practical?

    I assume this scenario would then require the 1 billion or so to build the lock, but there would be no need to move pumping stations?

    having driven through tailem bend on a number of occasions during the recent drought, there was always plenty of water..was this water present because of the barrages?…and if so did it also get hypersaline?…or above safe drinking levels?

    thankyou in advance and please excuse me if they seem like silly qustions

  37. Sean May 31, 2012 at 7:18 pm #

    Toby,

    “Would lock zero be placed below tailem bend?”
    Yes it would be between Tailem Bend and Wellington.

    “If I understand you correctly you support opening the barrages in times of drought to prevent hypersalinity( and release of toxic gas etc that builds up in the mud?), but would like to see the lakes maintained in a fresh water state for as much time as is practical?”
    Yes that is correct.
    This is where Jennifer and I differ and I call it the crawling stage as the barrages acccording to Jeff Marsh only have about 25 to 30 years working life left in them and it is during this stage that various tests can be carried out and sea levels may rise. Twelve months ago 22nd. May, 2011 we had a very high tide and strong winds and because it was a weekend the Goolwa Barrage were unable to be closed and EC levels reached around 40,000 EC and we had a fish kill in the Goolwa Channel and the salt intrussion reached back Point Sturt.

    “having driven through tailem bend on a number of occasions during the recent drought, there was always plenty of water..was this water present because of the barrages?…and if so did it also get hypersaline?…or above safe drinking levels?”

    That is the way it looked to you but unfortunately a lot of damaged to the river banks was done between Wellington and downstream of Lock 1 at Blanchetown. Peter Smith has bettter information on this area.

    Murray Bridge peaked at 790 EC’s 11/02/2009, Tailem Bend I know reached just over 1,200 C’s, Lake Alexandrina at Milang reached 5,930 EC’s 22/04/2009 and the Goolwa Channel 32,720 EC’s 18/02/2009.

  38. Peter R. Smith OAM MANNUM May 31, 2012 at 8:31 pm #

    Hi Sean,
    Of course I am still alive why would I want to die and make many people happy.
    The Lock Zero submission was put in.
    Of course, “the MDBA setting a salinity target at Milang of 1,000 EC means that they have no intention of constructing LOCK ZERO” what’s new?
    Yes they are working on the gates but as usual a bandage solution fools.
    Re your answer to Gavin, number 4. Lake Albert; Lake Albert to become a transit lake by constructing a channel to the Coorong with an automated gate to allow flushing – no just fix the Narrung Narrows properly.
    Best place for Lock Zero would be just downstream of the Wellington ferry

  39. toby May 31, 2012 at 9:03 pm #

    Thankyou Sean and Peter, for improving my understanding and knowledge of the lower lakes issue. The introduction of lock zero sounds far too sensible for a government to consider it!!
    It does seem to remove the need for moving the pumping stations so the cost seems like a win win (so long as enough water flows down the murray to meet south australia’s fresh water requirements).

    I readily accept I do not know enough about how many farmers/ users rely on the lower lakes being kept in a fresh water state and therefore accept there may be a need to keep these lakes fresh if rainfall and water flows allow it. But it does seem silly to try to maintain this artifical condition during prolonged droughts when the water can be used for clearly tangible reasons (growing food)?

    Peter’s submission can be seen here http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/House_of_Representatives_Committees?url=ra/murraydarling/subs/sub558.pdf
    or here http://www.psmithersmyriver.com/lock0/MDB%20from%20Lock%20Zero.pdf

    Peter, you clearly care passionately about the issue and I hope your ( and Sean’s) efforts help lead to a succesful resolution to this issue, whilst still allowing the production of food from the great Murray Darling food bowl.

  40. gavin May 31, 2012 at 9:44 pm #

    Toby; we are all growing food, from the mountains down.

  41. toby May 31, 2012 at 9:58 pm #

    Sorry Gavin, as usual you lose me! your point is?

  42. Dave Shorter May 31, 2012 at 10:02 pm #

    Gavin,
    Are you sure you aren’t confusing eating with growing?

  43. Debbie June 1, 2012 at 7:08 am #

    Gavin,
    I have to agree.
    Your point is?

  44. gavin June 1, 2012 at 8:01 am #

    Guys; during our public debate leading to a new dam project in the ACT, I made a case that every citizen was entitled to enough drinking water for their private veg and fruit plot, year in year out. At that time a new vineyard was using treated water from the sewage plant down the valley.

    The case for sprinklers on school ovals was another big debate. All sports had an insurance problem either way using no water or treated water. How fresh was the water when you bit the dirt? Most playing ovals were allowed to die off. How hard was the ground etc.

    By the sheer numbers of MDB town folk depending on the system and paying for their water, our food and everything else must come before large scale irrigation.

  45. Debbie June 1, 2012 at 9:21 am #

    Gavin!
    Once again, go and read the WSPs.
    It already does!
    That is NOT the problem!
    Large scale irrigation is already at the bottom of the priority list!
    SA large scale irrigators around those Lakes are some of those who are attempting to redefine the rules and the purpose of the storages. . . along with others in SA.
    They have a water management problem there at a State level and they’re trying to make the problem someone else’s.
    The drought taught us that what SA was trying to do is UNSUSTAINABLE when inflows are low.
    Adelaide and other towns and cities did NOT run out of critical supplies.
    Everyone having their little vege patches is a lovely romantic idea but is easily achievable already if people want to do that. It does NOTHING to solve the issues we are discussing here.

  46. gavin June 1, 2012 at 9:35 am #

    Home grown tomatoes on toast again; I still have a tray full ripening, what a joy! They just grey like grapes hanging through our pergola till the recent frosts.

    Now Deb; have a think, what would all those SA folk grow in salt water?

  47. Debbie June 1, 2012 at 9:46 am #

    Gavin,
    you have a proper think.
    How come people around Sydney Harbour, many south coast communities, people near the coast in Perth, Noosa, Brisbane and just about everywhere else where communities settle near the coast WORLD WIDE don’t seem to have this problem?
    If they want, they can happily grow vege patches.
    What is the difference Gavin?
    ACT doesn’t need to worry about it BTW because like my area, ACT is not subject to oceanic influences.
    No one believes communities should be denied access to fresh water.
    You have totally missed the point.

  48. Peter R. Smith OAM MANNUM June 1, 2012 at 11:22 am #

    Hi Debbie,
    I am sorry but you do not know what is happening in the LRM especially in and around Lake Alexandrina and Albert and your comment proves that, “SA large scale irrigators around those Lakes are some of those who are attempting to redefine the rules and the purpose of the storages along with others in SA” WHAT LARGE SCALE IRRIGATION AROUND THOSE LAKES?
    Any large scale irrigation we did have and I can’t recall any, was wiped out by the drought, and is unable to resume because of non useable or non affordable water!
    Then, “They have a water management problem there at a State level and they’re trying to make the problem someone else’s” could you please explain our, “water management problem.”
    Also Debbie be careful critising Gavin as your lack of knowledge of this region is the same but at least he admits his lack of knowledge re the LRM!

    Hi Gavin,
    I answer to your comment, “what would all those SA folk grow in salt water?” NOTHING!

  49. Peter R. Smith OAM MANNUM June 1, 2012 at 11:24 am #

    Hi Toby,
    If Lock Zero were to be constructed we believe during situations similar to our decade of drought Lock Zero would enable a management that would pulse water into Lake Alexandrina so as to remove the need for any invasions of seawater. This would not require any more freshwater but maybe mean less freshwater would be needed to ensure the Lakes Alexandrina and Albert did not expose acid sulphate soils.

  50. toby June 1, 2012 at 11:57 am #

    Thx again Peter, clearly a lot of thought has gone into this. From an outsiders point of few Sean’s idea of opening the gates at times seems very reasonable. Do you think during serious drought enough fresh water would be available on top of potable water requirements to make the pulsing of water a viable option?…would it be enough to lower pollution levels?

  51. Sean June 1, 2012 at 12:34 pm #

    Peter,
    Who was the pump station at Jervois built for.

    Debbie

    Tailem Bend Pump Station (Potable water only)

    The Lower Lakes through to Keith.

    Jervois Pump Station

    Supplies irrigation water to Jervois, Langhorne Creek, Milang through to Currency Creek.
    Lake Albert farmers are not connected to this new pipeline as are some of the farmers between Jervois to Currency Creek and Hindmarsh Island. Hindmarsh Island is connected to potable water from the Myponga Reservoir via Victor Harbor and Goolwa.

  52. Robert June 1, 2012 at 4:52 pm #

    “Any large scale irrigation we did have and I can’t recall any…”

    Peter, as a remote outsider, I find it truly alarming that the Angas Bremer irrigators have long passed from memory. I’m not being ironic. I truly had no idea.

    Perhaps there is confusion of terms, but I thought that the Langhorne area was home to spuds, grapes, lucerne, sunflower – thousands of hectares of irrigation near Lake Alexandrina. If this is all shut down now, I’m shocked, but you seem to be saying it shut down long ago, beyond your recollection. If so, it’s certainly terrible news. This is the kind of updating we all need about the state of Australia’s agriculture.

  53. Sean June 1, 2012 at 5:09 pm #

    Toby,
    Pulsing water
    This is where Peter and I disagree again. How can you pulse a river during a drought period when for 19 weeks from the 6/05/2009 to 9/09/2009 the average flow into S.A. was 12.1 GL per week the lowest week being 11.1 GL. At a meeting in Goolwa we were told by a Dept. E&H representative that only 3 GL per week was flowing into Lake Alexandrina which would mean that the flow over Lock Zero would have been about the same which would make pulsing even harder. As I mentioned above in point 3. Gates during those intermediate dry years then allow enough fresh water to be used to prevent hyper-salinity NOT WATER LEVEL. i.e. operation changed from maintaining levels to MAINTAINING LEVELS TO MAINTAING SALINITY BELOW A SET LEVEL.

  54. Peter R. Smith OAM MANNUM June 1, 2012 at 8:04 pm #

    Hi Robert,
    I am sorry I did not view the Angus Bremer as large scale irrigation from Lake Alexandrina.
    As Sean has said, “Jervois Pump Station – Supplies irrigation water to Jervois, Langhorne Creek, Milang through to Currency Creek.”

    Hi Toby and Sean,
    If Lock Zero had been in place in about 2000 pool level (Between Lock 1 and Lock Zero) could have been maintained for a much longer period of time and during that time water could have been pulsed into Lake Alexandrina.
    When that pool level began to fall dangerously low the pool levels between Locks 1 & 2, Locks 2 & 3, Locks 3 & 4, Locks 4 & 5, Locks 5 & 6, Locks 6 & 7 could have been gradually lowered to feed freshwater into Lake Alexandrina and at the same time maintaining the a sufficient level to ensure all off takes could continue to be used safely and as the pool level could have been maintained at about +0.3-AHD bank collapsing would have not been so serious, saving so many problems from occurring along the Lower River Murray.
    The amounts of dollars spent because of damage to infrastructure could have been immense!
    The reason those pool levels was maintained between Lock 1 and Lock 7 was to safeguard SA potable water Supplies.

  55. gavin June 1, 2012 at 11:26 pm #

    Sean & Peter; let’s all get, OK? Pulsing the river in drought involves successive flushing entire sections between locks starting from the bottom.

    Btw; I gained a passion for learning after a drop of Bleasdale (Potts) long ago. My late wife introduced me to this SA region and her numerous relatives in the late 90’s at a Macclesfield book launch. We did the stretch,Willunga to Langhorn Creek thoroughly. We stayed with a couple who grew wholsale grape cuttings next to Potts establishment and if I recall correctly where the good soil runs out.

    The pioneers did it tough away from the water. Many had immigrated via Van Diemens Land and had to ship goods and chattels the same way. Clearing land was an essential occupation through the 1840’s but bush fires became a constant menace.

    SA ‘s isolation demanded a range of agricultural development. Dairying east of the hills was one of their first ventures.

    Labor flowing from the penal isle, driven by hard times there was a benefit to settlers in the free colony. A government bounty was paid per head in addition from the late thirties. It’s little wonder the big river became so important.

    Ref: “A Leedham Line”

  56. Peter R. Smith OAM MANNUM June 2, 2012 at 6:45 am #

    Hi Gavin,
    I am sorry but your point is?
    Re, “Pulsing the river in drought involves successive flushing entire sections between locks starting from the bottom,” I make two points.
    1 – If the Locks had of been constructed properly or upgraded so they could be opened from the bottom flushing the sediment build up would be possible.
    2 – What we are referring to (During drought or periods of low inflows) is a lowering of pool levels to top up the pool level, therefore Lake Alexandrina, between Lock 1 and Lock Zero.
    Persons reading this thread must understand the pool levels are the same as the heights maintained for Paddle Steamer travel between locks.

  57. Debbie June 2, 2012 at 10:36 am #

    Yes,
    they were built in order to accomodate paddle steamers as well as being river regulatory structures. They therefore had a dual purpose. They’re still used to allow water craft through as well as regulate the water, but many of them are in serious need of upgrading to improve their use for their primary purpose . . . and always their primary purpose. . . which was water regulation management.
    Expectations have changed and the infrastructure can’t deliver on those changed expectations. They would still be required to allow the passage of boats I imagine?
    As I mentioned before, the drought taught us that all the expectations that SA has are not sustainable when we go into low inflow periods under current management and infrastructure. Critical supplies are available.
    That also applies in other States but SA is certainly the most vulnerable, mostly purely because of position but also because infrastructue investment has not kept up with development aspirations. Going into parochial/political argy bargy won’t change those simple facts.

  58. Peter R. Smith OAM MANNUM June 3, 2012 at 1:59 pm #

    Hi Debbie,
    We know they were, “built in order to accommodate paddle steamers as well as being river regulatory structures” and they are still used for that dual purpose and yes they are seriously in need of a total upgrade because they must open from the bottom so as to properly flush sediments.
    I will never agree, “that all the expectations that SA has are not sustainable when we go into low inflow periods” and re, “under current management and infrastructure” those management and infrastructure management systems can be changed and Lock Zero as well as upgrading the Barrages are part of the necessary changes.
    And re, “That also applies in other States but SA is certainly the most vulnerable, mostly purely because of position but also because infrastructure investment has not kept up with development aspirations” no the Murray Darling Basin once Commission and now Authority has not kept up to date with the required development!
    And I regret to mention this again but you do not understand the Lower River Murray as we believe if with what we are suggesting happened including management upgrading our aspirations could be realised and until a proper study is undertaken we have not been proved wrong.

  59. Debbie June 3, 2012 at 3:09 pm #

    Peter,
    This comment by you here:
    no the Murray Darling Basin once Commission and now Authority has not kept up to date with the required development!
    Is just an example of arguing for arguments sake and splitting hairs.
    It is essentially no different to what I said except that I see SA being just as culpable as the other states and in some cases more culpable in terms of the problems that have developed there in SA.
    Of course the infrastructure has not been kept up to date with the requried development….like….ummmmm…..DUH!
    That’s exactly what I said.
    Your problem is not your ultra efficient irrigators and numerous other SA groups that you keep saying you’re defending in SA…..your problem is ridiculous water management policy and a failure to back up the good things that have been done there in your own State by your own State Govt,…..as well as similar problems occuring in other upstream MDB states.
    Your further problem is that your SA politicians are advancing a stupid parochial argument (and a non sustainable environmental argument) that sees them set on destroying much chance of achieving a sensible outcome.
    Look to your own behaviour before you start criticising everyone else’s.
    The rest of us know we’ve made some stupid mistakes….but we’re not responsible for SA’s stupid mistakes…..that’s SA’s responsibility.
    And Peter….that has nothing whatsoever to do with your oft repeated claim of everyone’s failure to have an understanding of the LRM.
    That is not true….no matter how many times you regret to mention it again.
    And Peter….who do you think is against the idea of Lock zero?
    As far as I can see everyone commenting here can see that it would be beneficial to build that lock.
    You have unfortunately attached it to a position where you’re not prepared to rethink how the Lakes are managed once a lock is in place and potable water supplies are protected.

  60. Peter R. Smith OAM MANNUM June 3, 2012 at 3:58 pm #

    Hi Debbie,
    Re, “Is just an example of arguing for arguments sake and splitting hairs” no it isn’t we are not saying or placing blame but making a statement about management of the Basin because as diversions increased it was the belief that the Basin would continue to provide without taking into account or even properly plan for the future.
    And re, “problems that have developed there in SA” can you please explain.
    And here we go again, “your problem is ridiculous water management policy and a failure to back up the good things that have been done there in your own State by your own State Govt” get off your high horse we know what we are don’t you just don’t understand the Lower River Murray!
    Also re, “and a non sustainable environmental argument” what proof have you of that?
    Re, “Look to your own behaviour before you start criticising everyone else’s” my blame is aimed at Government’s both Federal and State and the agencies they control.
    No Debbie, “everyone’s failure to have an understanding of the LRM” it is not everybody only those who choose not to understand I suppose if you don’t understand you can always just BLAME!
    Re, “And Peter….who do you think is against the idea of Lock Zero” many of those are South Australia and live downstream of Lock 1but as I have stated we need the umpire’s decision we need to have the scientific investigation. Let’s get it done so we can make the proper decision.
    I am sorry but re, “You have unfortunately attached it to a position where you’re not prepared to rethink how the Lakes are managed once a lock is in place and potable water supplies are protected” we have attached it to a position that when Lock Zero is constructed we can decide once and for all the BEST management regime for the Lower River Murray and Lakes Alexandrina and Albert.

  61. Sean June 3, 2012 at 7:30 pm #

    Peter,
    ” my blame is aimed at Government’s both Federal and State and the agencies they control”.

    You are right ( don’t faint ) they have stuffed things up and spent money unnecessary on many projects and they appear to be prepared to do it again as they are working on a figure of 1,000 EC’s for Lake Alexandrina at Milang. This eliminates the probable building of Lock Zero and if 2008/2009 is repeated that means Wellington through to downstream Lock 1 at Blanchetown will be severely damaged again. Clayton to the barrages will probably be okay as they will put the regulator back again as soil will be stored close by or they might just leave the partial regulator where it still is.

  62. Debbie June 3, 2012 at 8:27 pm #

    Well said Sean,
    It proved to be unsustainable in 08/09 and will be so again. The areas that Peter says no one understands is being used as a political football.

  63. Debbie June 4, 2012 at 10:53 am #

    And Peter,
    The irony is killing me.

    Hi Debbie,
    Re, “Is just an example of arguing for arguments sake and splitting hairs” no it isn’t …..

    and……

    No Debbie, “everyone’s failure to have an understanding of the LRM” it is not everybody only those who choose not to understand I suppose if you don’t understand you can always just BLAME!

    ROFL! 🙂 🙂 🙂

  64. Peter R. Smith OAM MANNUM June 4, 2012 at 5:21 pm #

    Hi Debbie,
    Yes you are right, “It proved to be unsustainable in 08/09 and will be so again” but really it was 2006/2010 but this, “The areas that Peter says no one understands is being used as a political football” they maybe being, “used as political football” but that is because of the complete lack of understanding by so many including the State Government.
    We believe we can manage the Lakes Alexandrina and Albert correctly if Lock Zero is constructed but the Government is also not listening but we will not give up.

  65. Debbie June 5, 2012 at 7:42 am #

    Yes Peter,
    it was 06/10 but the worst damage there was 08/09.
    It was indeed a long, crippling drought and it is infuriating that our govts and attendant bureaucracies are refusing to learn the lessons it taught us. And sorry, but your state govt is one of the worst, preferring to play parochial politics and advancing emotional environmental arguments, rather than working on some much needed sensible outcomes.
    While the SA govt continues to keep trying to pretend its a victim and threatens spurious legal challenges, it’s almost impossible for the other States to help. They too would prefer to play parochial politics rather than accept their share of responsibility.
    All of them have encouraged development and have failed to adequately support it with infrastructure, storage and regulatory systems. SA has also tried to deny the existence of oceanic influences and the true nature of the highly ephemeral inland river systems.
    Upstream irrigation, although a factor, is not the main problem. WSPs and caps etc have dealt with those type of issues long ago.

  66. Peter R. Smith OAM MANNUM June 5, 2012 at 5:19 pm #

    Hi Debbie,
    Re, “it was 06/10 but the worst damage there was 08/09” that depends what you the classing as the worst damage.
    You say, “And sorry, but your state got is one of the worst, preferring to play parochial politics and advancing emotional environmental arguments, rather than working on some much needed sensible outcomes” here you go again it is always SA’s fault.
    As I continue to say you don’t understand the LRM and that is plainly obvious by your continued persistence, “SA has also tried to deny the existence of oceanic influences and the true nature of the highly ephemeral inland river systems” for goodness sake if you want the mouth of the River Murray to close for good without total reliance on dredges just continue to think the allowing of the sea into Lake Alexandrina will fix the problem!
    Returning to natural is not only not an option but impossible.

  67. Debbie June 6, 2012 at 9:04 am #

    Peter,
    SA is responsible for some of the mistakes made there.
    I have not and do not blame SA exclusively.
    If you don’t want the Murray Mouth to close for good then start looking at all options including the need for dredging when the tides and the river are working together to close it.
    Returning everything to natural is not an option I agree, but denying what was/is natural is not smart either. You can quibble over %s but those Lakes and that mouth do have a tidal/saltwater/estuarine history and the ocean is an overwhelming force.
    Also, try and do something about your myopic State govt. The behaviour is not helping you at all.

  68. Peter R. Smith OAM MANNUM June 6, 2012 at 9:34 am #

    Hi Debbie,
    Yes we accept our share of blame and our responsibility and yes, “Returning everything to natural is not an option I agree, but denying what was/is natural is not smart either. You can quibble over %s but those Lakes and that mouth do have a tidal/saltwater/estuarine history and the ocean is an overwhelming force” yes Lake Alexandrina and Albert have a, “tidal/saltwater/estuarine history” Lake Albert 17% and Lake Alexandrina 20%, “and the ocean is an overwhelming force” but MUST BE TOTALLY EXCLUDED FROM LAKE ALEXANDRINA.
    Please give us the opportunity to continue to upgrades necessary so as we can investigate our other management options.

  69. Sean June 6, 2012 at 12:08 pm #

    Peter
    Re 2008/2009
    It’s the Irish in me.
    January to June, 2010 S.A. received 1178.5 GL which was 263.5 GL above our entitlement ( 915 GL ).
    April 2010 Goolwa channel was still – 0.059 M AHD, 20849 EC’s and the Tube worms returned. August 2010 Goolwa channel back to 0.767 M AHD, 18,470 EC’s and on the 4th August, 2010 Lake Alexandrina reached 0.0 M (sea level ) AHD ( 67.15% 1138.2 GL ) and end of September 2010 the Clayton Regulator was partially opened and by the 31st. October Goolwa channel was 0.619 M AHD,2044 EC’s.
    July to December, 2010 S.A. received 4808 GL which was 3,873 GL above our entitlement ( 935 GL ).

  70. Debbie June 7, 2012 at 2:20 pm #

    Peter,
    your arguments are simply bi polar.
    SA state water politics have been SA’s worst enemy.
    We would happily leave SA alone or give you the opportunity to continue upgrades, if SA stopped claiming their issues are caused by everyone else and that it is Australia’s problem and that Australia must pay for it because none of it is SA’s responsibility and that everyone is unfairly picking on SA and that SA needs ever increasing space locked up in the storages.
    It is parochial and divisive.
    It has been incredibly easy for Jen and plenty of others to highlight how duplicitous those environmental based arguments are.

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