Will the Senate Select Committee Care About the Fish, or the Estuary?

I will be in Goolwa, just to the north west of the Murray River’s sea mouth, on Tuesday 8th December to give evidence to the Senate Select Committee on the Murray Darling Basin Plan.


This committee is chaired by David Leyonhjelm, the libertarian senator from NSW, and has a mandate to report on both the positive and negative aspects of the new Basin Plan by 26th February 2016.

The Basin Plan, a requirement under the Water Act 2007, has resulted in the redistribution of vast quantities of fresh water previously used to grow food upstream in places like the Riverina, ostensibly to the Coorong, Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth.

Much of the campaigning for water reform, led by the Australian Conservation Foundation, has specifically and falsely claimed that this water is needed to flush the Murray’s mouth. Never mind that river flow must first make it across a vast shallow lake and through a series of barrages before it can get to the mouth.

If the barrages were removed, the tides of the Southern Ocean could score the Murray’s sea mouth each autumn at no cost to Australian tax payers.

The barrages are massive sea dykes built in the 1930s to prevent inflows from the South Ocean, and are often closed to ensure the Lower Lakes are kept above sea level. The entire Lower Lakes environment is artificial, something resembling a duck pond the size of Port Phillip Bay, where Adelaide’s elite like to go sailing on the weekend.

We really are a rich nation that we can divert water once used to grow food, to this contrived oasis in the driest state on the driest continent. It is of course a lie that this water is for the environment. It has been taken from agriculture, but it is not sustaining a natural system.

My submission to the Senate Committee includes some discussion of the need to restore the estuary, but it is more generally focused on fish. I explain that despite tens of millions of dollars spent on a native fish strategy, many species show no signs of recovery to preEuropean levels. This is because issues of cold water pollution, predation from introduced salmonids, and also restoration of the estuary, have not been addressed.

This submission, on behalf of The Myth and the Murray Group, can be accessed here:

28 Responses to Will the Senate Select Committee Care About the Fish, or the Estuary?

  1. Geoff Brown November 18, 2015 at 3:37 pm #

    If my memory serves me right, David Leyonhjelm was a member of the Australian Environment Foundation in the days when you were President. If that is so, you must have a sympathetic ear from the Senate Chairman.

  2. Glen Michel November 19, 2015 at 8:00 am #

    I take your point that Salmonids are introduced Jennifer,but are primarily a cold water fish and therefore restricted to waters above Hume reservoir.Native fishes such as maccullochella peeli and Macquarie ambiguua have recovered greatly since the last major flood.These are the opinions of many observant anglers.Caprinus remains a problem, particularly in the lower reaches- such as Alexandrina.Good luck and remove those bloody barrages.

  3. Glen Michel November 19, 2015 at 8:15 am #

    I might add that the release of cold eutrophic water from dams creates thermal pollution,but given that the Murray’s main input is from snow melt that in itself is not a problem for native species,who largely move into shallow and warmer flooded gum forests for breeding.Sure,fish numbers are not at the same level pre 20th century. But overfishing- both commercial and recreational- plus habitat removal ( for boat fuel) have been the main contributors.I travelled the length of the Darling/ Murray a couple of years ago and found the latter in a particularly good state with 6 species of fish caught and in good numbers.All we need is thoughtful management and leave the rest to nature.

  4. jaycee November 19, 2015 at 3:55 pm #

    Jennifer, While (going by the glam-pic above) I have no doubt you may have influence enough to be able to still the hand of God when it comes to managing the estuary environment of a future without the barrages, I fear you will have little chance of steering the cynical, unmoved “free-hand” of the agri-corp and managed investment schemes away from milking the water system dry before it even reaches the lower lakes, if you take away ANY excuse and regulation to maintain the lower reaches of the Murray River.

    Now, unlike yourself, I have no access to the vast pools of stats’ and charts that you seem to draw upon for your well-informed conclusions…but I do “get around” in my own inimitable fashion..

    In one of my alter egos, I am the “penciler” for the research chappy from the NRM. board and we go up and down this section of the river, doing readings of the ground-water, billibong, river itself bores and surface water with this array of instruments..he reads out the oxygen, salinity, temp’ all those sort of things , levels and I pencil them on the charts…I sometimes play a guessing game on the saline levels..having grown up on the coast, I have a good memory of the taste of sea-water..and I taste that bore water and I say how much more or less than sea-water and he gives me the reading..you know..that sort of thing…I have to say that while the river itself is holding good, some of that ground water on the islands between the river and the lagoons has the taste and bite of battery acid!..and the measurements to match!
    So if you are saying that those “food growers” upstream (we have them here too you know?)can take that share of water used to “flush the mouth” , then that “battery acid” ground water (currently sitting there at 1.5 – 2.5 mtrs down) will have only one place to go…but then, I read that you’ve already “solved” that little issue with a stroke of your pen : “…salinity levels had more than halved…”..yet, I KNOW that anyone would be bloody hard-pressed to find a bore between the Marne River only near the town of Cambrai , not up nor downstream of the Marne, and the Flinders Rangers way up north that didn’t read over the scale for even good stock-water.

    And then there is the troublesome politics of all those people living and farming along the lower Murray..Oh yes..I get around, you see…and it was only last year that we did a survey of ALL the registered irrigators on this section of the river..big and small..all their crops, and all their types of irrigation..Jennifer..when you glibly say ; “Oh, Away with all barrages !” I do have to wonder if you have covered all bases of the resulting chaos?

    I am drawn to that pleading line from Jesus up there on the cross..nailed right in..and ( if I recall my little picture books of the sufferings of the martyrs!) he turns his head toward heaven (that’s where God lives!) and he says : “Forgive them Lord..for they know not what they do…”

  5. jennifer November 19, 2015 at 8:37 pm #


    The releases for irrigation from the Hume Dam which are having a negative impact on native fish are occurring in summer when Murray Cod would be breeding if stream temperatures were a few degree higher. This is the same environment (immediately downstream of the dam) were they are catching salmon.

    More here… http://www.mythandthemurray.org/leaving-the-murrays-cod-in-the-cold/


    Before the dams and weirs the water would flood across the Riverina and into upstream wetlands. It was never channeled down to flush the mouth.

    Quoting from a great book by mulloway fisherman Alistair Wood: the Murray River would “flog down from September until maybe Christmas, filling the lagoon, then out the mouth”. By Christmas flow had usually slowed and water levels dropped right down. After this, when the south-westerly wind picked up the sea would, “pour in through the mouth and work its way across the lake”.

    Of course the barrages stop the sea flooding in now, stop the natural scouring of the mouth.

  6. jaycee November 20, 2015 at 8:06 am #

    Ahh!..if we could but rely on the evidence of fishermen..our examples , I’m certain , would be as long as they would be wide…except for the one’s that got away!

    But I’m not here To have fun with your “I’ll just keep it simple for the plebs” reply, because I can ascertain from your intent to present that paper to the senate “select” committee (how it can be “select” with Senator David Leyonhjelm, on it is beyond me!) that you hope to influence a decision to alter the Murray Basin Plan. This would be disastrous for many thousands of people and much economic security for many thousands more.

    While I suppose YOU yourself have no Machiavellian intent to do harm to this state, I am aware of some you associate with who would sell their mother’s back teeth to turn a profit to their advantage.

    I cannot argue tit-for-tat with your statistical conclusions, although we all know how stats; can be used..my skills being more in tune with anecdotal and observational evidence “in-situ” , as they say. But while I can see your honest attempt to paint a picture of how it once was and to plea for a return to such a state on the grounds that then all the environmental issues that plague the lower reaches of the Murray could be resolved has to be naive at the best and damn well mischievous at the worst!..for it has to be accepted that for any civilised community to develop and hold and then to produce food to live would demand a certain compromise with the natural environment…the ancient Romans, when they tapped the sweet water of the Alban Hills to channel to the capital, altered forever the environment of that landscape…but from it we obtained many advantages..not least being able to write with the Latin Alphabet ; this blog!..how we maintain that interrupted environment is now the issue..we have reached a “use-by” point on many fronts…a reverting to the sea-flood solution is NOT an option..no way!

    The over-allocation of water licences all down and at every tributary into the Murray is ONE of the major problems..Most, if not ALL of the minor tributarys that feed into the lower reaches of the Murray are now defunct and almost useless..THAT is a problem we need to address at our end..The rampant milking of the Murray-Darling waters from the head to the borders is a problem that you have to address at your end…Let’s agree to try to fix our own backyards first , eh?

  7. jennifer November 20, 2015 at 3:23 pm #


    I don’t live in the upper Murray Darling. I don’t have a backyard to fix.

    I’m simply concerned that last drought, when the Lower Lakes dried up, there was a simply solution: open the barrages.

    Instead you folk put your hand out for hundreds of millions more in funding/compenstation from the Australian taxpayer, to maintain a vast perched duck pond and/or get dollars for water to piped from stream etcetera, etcetera.

    When the solution was simple, open the barrages.

    In 1914/15 when there was drought, before the barrages, dolphins and sharks came in with the Southern Ocean.

  8. jaycee November 20, 2015 at 3:55 pm #

    I’m not going to enter into a round of point-counterpoint with you on YOUR blog..you might just as easy block me!…But you know where to look for acid sulphate soils , or how the damming and over-allocation upstream on the basin has left us here in SA. holding the empty bag.

    I have, however, sent your article on to relevant members of the Mid-Murray Council and other persons of influence. I will raise this subject at a meeting of local issues next month near here. I cannot let you and yours get away with such irresponsible generalisations that will do great harm to both the local people and economy at this time when we have such a gormless federal govt’ in charge. Particularly when the Eastern States are the major guilty parties in water usage and wastage!

    Considering that Swan Reach, 60+ kms from the Murray mouth, below Lock #1 Blanchetown is only c.75cm. above sea level, I suggest you give a tad more thought to such irresponsible mutterings ! Two major water draw pipelines ; Mannum – Adelaide, Swan Reach – Stockwell draw from the Murray below Lock #1…this is the drinking water and economic survival water for tens of thousands of people.

    I do, do wish the right-wing of politics, be it social or economic, would give more than scant consideration to the very systems that THEY themselves rely upon for both their economic benefit and their very survival!..I hardly think an attitude of suicidal frivolity when considering water policy would be a very helpful thing…do you?

  9. Mack November 20, 2015 at 9:53 pm #

    ” I do, do wish the right-wing of politics….blah blah.” laments jaycee
    Quite fascinating how Jennifer is always tarred as a right-winger…..Removing the barrages and getting back to nature would seem more lefty-greenie to me….Perhaps they could ship a couple of Flannery’s idle de-sal plants over there to sort the drinking water out…..now that we don’t have to worry about climate change any more.

  10. hunter November 20, 2015 at 10:51 pm #

    The spittle flecked arrogance of the lefties is always entertaining.

  11. jaycee November 21, 2015 at 7:48 am #

    …and hunter.;The scruffed-knees of the crawlers of the right is deeply shameful.

  12. Daryl McDonald November 21, 2015 at 1:52 pm #

    Congratulations Jennifer. The native fish issue has sadly dropped off the politicaly sexy radar of recent times. Not sure why you are wasting time debating the Jaycee’s of this world. For those who suffer the impediment of ‘subjective thinking’, beliefs will always trump facts. It’s a bit of an insecurity thing, like a lot of us dealt with in our teenage years. The passage of time does not automatically equate to gaining wisdom.

    Cheers, SLOWLURNR, and dedicated Fisho.

  13. jaycee November 21, 2015 at 3:03 pm #

    Are you the same “Daryl McDonald” as this chap indulging in a little impediment of “subjective thinking”?

    ” Mr McDonald would like to see immediate changes made to water policy that would enable surplus environmental water to be traded on the open market — but only to farmers, not outside investors — as a means of sustaining farming communities.”

  14. jaycee November 21, 2015 at 3:07 pm #

    Discussion Paper on solutions for sustainability of a community.

    Ok…here comes the BBQ. stopper !…let’s cut to the chase and admit the realities of farming in the Mid-Murray Council area..:

    a) That it is primarily an agricultural constituent…

    b) That the agriculture producers are mostly of generational owned small holdings..

    c) the imposts of market requirements, transport, bulk handling / sales and pricing are more favoured to large holdings, large corporate agri-business and Managed Investment Scheme producers……

    The result being the development of a “perfect storm” of squeezed “family farms”, concentration of production to “outside interests” that export their produce, dumped excess commodities resulting in rock-bottom prices for produce and concentration of water allocation licences with corporate agri-business. The result could be a complete loss to the local community of independence in growth and supply of produce from family farming enterprises.

    Many might say..: “So what!..let the market decide.”…But it isn’t “the market” deciding…it’s “Fund – Managed” speculators with super capital, super credit and cross-border / cross-seasonal guarantees of profit margins protected against crop-failure by multi-location producers that, being so large and having the capacity to produce so much, they can control the price of produce by dumping or withdrawing commodities from a market that will eventually be reliant on their capacity….The smaller producer having neither the capacity, flexibility, nor the credit to “ride-out” long-term problems…add to the mix an uncertain climate, and we have that perfect storm mentioned above.

    What can we do?…

    Those mega-producers deliver their products either interstate or ship to ports for export way outside this council area…so they are not affected by local fluctuations, BUT they still dictate, through their mega-capacity, local pricing structure. It is the smaller, family owned farms that are at risk and we can do something there. It is a new idea, building NOT on a cooperative of producers, though they would be good…it is a “market-oriented” proposal that would require a contract between individual parties, no different than the usual “contract to supply” of many businesses…it would require the Mid-Murray Council to become an “investor in the constituency”(perhaps through first or second tier gov’t funding?) to supply locations and under-cover premises where a regular, consistent, semi-permanent stalls (much like the Adelaide Central Market) of local farmers could sell via wholesale supply, a huge variety of produce to local shoppers ….produce such as vegetables, meats and fruit and even cereal grains either bulk or packaged.

    I told you it was a BBQ. stopper….but I believe we have the capability to do this…but we have to think big…much bigger than the local “farmers markets”! We have quality growers of everything in the lines of veggies’ , meats, fruits (dried and fresh)and cereals..even dairy…do we have the population of consumers to purchase?…if these “centralised” markets stayed open for say.. two or three consecutive days each, I would think they would be a goer…considering also the weekend tourist flows through the area.. If council could obtain State or Federal monies to construct multi-purpose under-cover arenas with appropriate cold-store facilities…then it could be a goer…There would have to be at least three locations all operating simultaneously over three days, perhaps ; one in Blanchetown (to serve the nth/east’n hills towns and Riverland, one in Sedan for the Barossa / local and the other in Mannum for the sthn’ hills….the multi-purpose arenas could be hired out on other days for other pursuits, ie: Indoor sporting, social, flea markets etc.

    Sure, this is a simple over-view of possibilities that would involve cooperation and contractual certainties between council, growers and a willing-to-participate public….but what other choice is there? Just lay back and watch as all these hard-working, quality producing generational farms and families get squeezed out of the industry, out of the community?… or do we affiliate and come together as a society and instead of ending up with a community that is depreciating and all our young people want to move away from, we become a community that is creating and growing and not only do we get our young people to stay, but we attract more keen people to come to the area because they want to be a part of a growing community.

    What do you think?

  15. jaycee November 21, 2015 at 3:49 pm #

    I have to ask, Jennifer, knowing your qualifications and contributing to some discussion on this blog over a few years.I have to ask how is it, when you research a paper for this current senate committee and you advocate for wide sweeping changes (as you have for a long time) to the Murray Mouth and lakes and barrages…how is it that you do not seem to appreciate the grave difficulties that would overtake so many, many citizens and communities from the mouth to Lock #1 Blanchetown?

    Such a proposition as you suggest would devastate and drive to the wall so many that the resulting family and community breakdown would be nothing short of catastrophic! Sure, sometimes the requirements of social good, like the creation of a reservoir that will submerge a town or divide a county, demand sacrifices..but such sacrifices generally serve even THAT individual community and all can benefit…that has to be seen.

    But what you are proposing can offer little solace or social balm for the people who do the sacrificing…and it seems for the benefit of those upstream!..How is it that your research does not take into consideration the destruction, the upheaval and the consequences of such a radical idea?

    Just askin’ !

  16. jennifer November 22, 2015 at 2:31 am #


    I should think restoring the estuary is common sense! And you rightly observe that I am not right wing. I’m an empiricist, and a libertarian, and a biologist with an obsession for hunting down the truth.


    The idea that the Murray River could, and should, run strong and fresh all the way to the Southern Ocean is based on nothing more than a romantic impression of how the Australian environment could be. It is an idea that since the construction of the barrages has made the Lower Murray communities exceptionally vulnerable to drought.

    In 1914 and 1915, before any significant water infrastructure development, the Murray River ran dry, but the Lower Lakes were full of water. Dolphins were sighted upstream of Wellington, with sea water penetrating to Mannum.

    During the recent Millennium drought, despite exceptionally low rainfall and snowfall the river proper kept flowing because of releases from the Hume and Dartmouth reservoirs. But there was simply not enough water to keep the vast and shallow Lower Lakes full of freshwater. There was certainly not enough water to flush the Murray’s sea mouth. This was reported as a national tragedy and all the fault of up-stream irrigators.

    Never mind that there was not much water for upstream irrigation, and that by simply opening the barrages the entire lake-system could have been flooded with seawater at no cost to the Australian tax payer.

    It is as though you are more committed to there being a problem in the Murray Darling, than finding real and sustainable solutions which could reside with restoration of the estuary.

  17. jaycee November 22, 2015 at 8:59 am #

    Jennifer…we have a problem, not just with this discussion on the estuary, but with the depth and breadth and influence of our discussion. By that, I refer in the first case to how deep into the history of river / transport / trade do we go before the subject is lost to the past. Second; how wide should the sweep of statistics go to include the entire reach of the Murray, Darling, Murrumbidgee irrigation and water allocation licences ,both buying and selling, do we go before we get bogged down in the tangled duplicitious arrangements of THAT scheme?

    But the third I think we can address without coming to blows between you and me and your sensitive readers.

    What influence demanded the construction of the barrages and what influence maintains them?

    “Before the Lower Lakes Barrages were built, tidal effects and the intrusion of seawater were felt during periods of low flow into the Lower Lakes (Lake Alexandrina and the connected Lake Albert) and in the River Murray up to 250 km upstream from the mouth. Although this effect was a normal part of the variation of the lower river system, the impacts appeared to be further intensified following increasing regulation and diversion of water upstream that decreased periods of high flow along the lower Murray and reduced overall inflow to the Lower Lakes system.”

    Along with the construction of the Hume Dam and the weir at Yarrawonga and the diversion project at Lake Victoria and the increased irrigation demands on the Murrumbidgee and many other locations, there was pressure put on the SA. Govt’ to secure the lower lakes fresh water levels for both navigation (Goolwa was envisaged to be THE great river port) and farming. Drinking water for Adelaide and other places also was taken from the lower reaches of the Murray.

    This is now the reality..as an empiricist, you must realise this..Sure, it must have been a kind of nirvana in the pre-European days, with plentiful food, water and needs for the indigenous peoples…but we cannot go back to those days, we cannot unscramble the egg!..What we have now is what we must deal with, and while the “libertarian” in you may decide to eliminate the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of people with the stroke of a pen, the reality is something more sobering!

    The collapse in 2008/9 of the Timbercorp and Great Southern ponzi schemes that corrupted water allocation and agri-markets from Mildura to Swan-Hill and beyond demonstrates the vulnerability of relying on the “free-market” system to solve the Murray Darling Basin problems. The Barrages are in place..they will stay. The weirs / locks and upper-river dams are in place and they will stay. The fish management problem is being addressed and it will get better. The water wastage through irrigation canal evaporation etc. is being addressed and it will get better. The reckless speculative schemes of growing unsuitable crops in unsuitable locations wasting valuable water is being found to be another ponzi-scam that cannot survive (and pity those who invest in such!)..about the only thing missing, is a decent, honest governing regulator that will deliver sustainable water to those REAL farming enterprises and locations (which are well-established and known) that have the reputation of delivering good, fresh produce to the public, leaving enough water to keep the entire river system “honest” for everybody.

    As for being a “Libertarian” (Google it youse people), Jennifer..I doubt your life-style could in reality sustain such a philosophical void !…I tried to point out to your colleague ; Sinclair Davidson (before he blocked me from his blog) by a series of reductionist points that inevitably we all have to come to some sort of “social contract” with both the environment and the citizens around us for our person to survive. As even those with total power and military control understand..they too are at the mercy of their most minor bodyguard!..as the Roman Emperors soon learned from their own Praetorian Guards.

    (Funny that Sinclair blocked me…I would have thought free speech would be a precious imperative for a “Libertarian”…)

  18. Daryl McDonald November 23, 2015 at 7:11 am #


    Oh, how I wish it was as easy getting fish to take the bait.
    Being a sort of ethical catch-and-release fisho, I will let you off the hook.
    I am the ‘Mr Mconald’ you referred to, and I am quite comfortable having my real name alongside my comments. (Being anally retentitive about accuracy, I would like to point out that you quoted the media’s interpretation of my comments)
    It seems we are in furious agreement with regards to M.I.S. and other non-farming bodies controlling significant amount of a key asset that belongs to the community.
    Not sure why you find my view that surplus environmental water (and the is plenty) be sold back to farmers, not speculators, as being a bit subjective. Such a sale (as has recently happened) clearly provides the best ‘bang-for-buck’ as far as everyone except the speculators are concerned.
    One question, if i may.
    If there is such a profound “overallaction” of Basin water, can you explain why Sth Australia has its full 100% entitilment, and yet we here in the NSW Murray Valley are struggling along at just 14%…!!!!!
    Keep it REAL. Consider ALL the available evidence.

    Cheers, SLOWLURNR

  19. Glen Michel November 23, 2015 at 8:40 am #

    Just to clarify an earlier point; a tail race Salmonid fishery exists below Hume for Brown and rainbow trout( no salmon strictly) for a distance of several kilometres downstream. Distinct populations of strangely named trout cod (macquariensis) frequent these waters also and are quite happy in these colder waters- having been historically found in the Indi river.

  20. jaycee November 23, 2015 at 10:16 am #

    Growing up by the sea, I can appreciate that occasional good bite after an age of nibbles..so I am happy to oblige..and I do like to consult Mr. Google on any names that I have correspondence with.
    As for the quote..(one amongst many) ..ah! that bloody media!..I am sure Jen could tell you many tales!

    But yes, we are in agreeance on the scourge of “Speculative Fooding Business”. As to the over allocations, here I am referring to those tributarys that flow from the Mt. Lofty Rangers..THEY are grossly overallocated..and knowing so..yet there appears little is being done to alleviate the matter…as for the upper murray , I can only go on what gets reported in the media and I suspect (upon reading your last post) that those generational farmers on “smaller” allotments (EXACTLY the same as down here) are being over-looked in the general sweep of media love-affairs with mega-agri-corp farming ..Oh doesn’t it look good for the economy when we read of a “Great Northern Aust’ Agricultural Developement”, while the real nuts and bolts machinery of serious agriculture is being neglected?

    And I know it is being neglected, because in the recent survey we did on all the irrigated farms along this stretch of the lower Murray, their regrets were exactly, almost word for word like yours. They too suffer from depleted percentage allocation, yet mega MIS. schemes have the capital (as a speculative venture) to buy up all available water licences, leaving those inherited farms unable to expand, lacking collateral to impress the banks to loan for up-grade equiptment or capacity or to buy more land, and cursed with a market price for their produce controlled by those same speculative agri-corp schemes…who, by the way, once they have squeezed the smaller farmers out, will drop the ball on farming enterprise as quick as the stock-market drops it’s hammer on the supply and demand chain, leaving the district a vacant lot.

    I spoke to one young “inherited the farm from dad” grower who confessed to making a judgement error the last season and borrowed money just to MARKET their produce rather than let it rot in the ground..: “I think I made a bad judgement..we would have been better off to let it rot!”

    Such are the conditions now for those serious generational farmers down here…everything from stone-fruit, vegetalbes to table-grapes hold small cheer for the generational farmer and leave these small river towns in great distress.

    I mentioned Timber-corp and Great Southern in an above post…I am sure YOU, Daryl, would know all about those ponzi ventures…many small investors lost their life savings in those bullshit “farming” ventures..( some by consequence lost their lives..)…and their speculation with water allocations would make a half decent season in the magistrates courts for the crooks who run those enterprises…if you could catch or charge them!…But I am afraid such people seem to cower under the protection of a vast network of sheltered workshops called; ” political lobby groups”…: the REAL “Leaners” of society!

  21. Sean Murphy November 28, 2015 at 10:55 am #

    I am following up on my E Mail to you the other day. Early signs on submissions are showing that people continue pushing “Remove the Barrages” this information is incorrect they must stay and work in conjunction with Lock Zero. What concerns us is that Region 6 should have a new Lock and be divided into two sections :-

    1. The Lower Murray River Region
    Down stream from Lock 1 at Blanchetown to Upstream of Lock Zero below below Tailem Bend. This creates a new pool of 0.75 M AHD between Lock Zero and D/S Lock1 and protects Adelaide’s water supplies and the Tailem Bend, Jervois, Murray Bridge, Mannum, and Swan Reach pumping stations. It will eliminate the damage the Lower River Murray suffered during the drought.

    The Lower Lakes Region:-
    2. Downstream from Lock Zero to the Upstream fo Goolwa Barrages.
    The Lower Lakes pool can then be lowered to 0.50 M AHD (now 0.75 M AHD) save 694 GL.

    “Extracts from Hansard notes from the recent Senate Estimates Commitee January, 2012 which talks about the Lower Lakes” From
    David Dreverman Ex. Director MDBA evidence. I actually operate the river Murray. But quite quickly from when you have got a river flow to when you have got no freshwater flow, that Lower Lake turned hypersaline.We actually looked at that when we did modelling during the drought, because we considered during drought letting the sea into the Lower Lakes and concluded that water body would become hypersaline very, very quickly. We concluded at the end of the drought that it was good that we had let the sea in. It would have created a lot problems that would have taken a long time to get over and we would not be in the situation where Lake Albert is less than,5,000 a day because Lake Albert would quite quickly have gone hypersaline and it would have taken a long time to recover.

    Salt levels Charts I kept during the drought show 7th. July 2010 Lake 13,960 and 22nd December 7,460

    We believe that if the MDBA listens to David Dreverman once again this section of the River will suffer again.

  22. Sean Murphy November 28, 2015 at 11:58 am #


    Lock Zero
    Automation of Goolwa Barrage Gates

    1. Lock Zero
    Build Lock Zero below Tailem Bend this creates a new pool of 0.75 AHD between Lock Zero and D/S Lock 1 and protects Adelaide’s water supplies and the Tailem Bend, Murray Bridge, Mannum and Swan Reach pumping stations. It will eliminate the damage the Lower Murray suffered during the drought of 2008/2009. The Lower Lakes pool can be lowered to 0.50 AHD (now 0.75 AHD) save 694GL.
    2. Re- Engineering the barrage gates
    The Goolwa Barrage gates to be an automated system and with the 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 0.05 M AHD.
    The Lower Lakes during dry periods when the levels reach 0.05 M AHD open the gates and allow the 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 salinity below a set level. When there is plenty of water, levels could be maintained at present level 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.

    Submission to the Draft Basin Plan March 2012
    I have copy and I was unable to contact a J. Elliott re Lock Zero.
    I have noticed up until today there is no submission been made to the Senate Enquir y by LMRIA.
    I know one of the Mid Murray Councillor’s and have forwarded this info to him.
    Jacyee you are incorrect in saying the damage caused from below Blanchetown to the mouth. Clayton Regulator( Cost $26milloin) was built and refilled the Goolwa Channel was filled to 0.75 M AHD. The barrage was allowed to operate from the long weekend in October 2009 through to Easter 2010 with River level going back to -0.024 M AHD in May 2010. The damaged was from u/s Clayton Regulator back up d/s Lock one Blanchetown.

  23. Sean Murphy November 29, 2015 at 7:21 pm #

    .A typing error

    We concluded at the end of the drought that it was good that we “DID NOT” let the sea in. It would have created a lot problems that would have taken a long time to get over and we would not be in the situation where Lake Albert is less than,5,000 a day because Lake Albert would quite quickly have gone hypersaline and it would have taken a long time to recover.

    Salt levels Charts I kept during the drought show 7th. July 2010 Lake 13,960 and 22nd December 7,460

    We believe that if the MDBA listens to David Dreverman once again this section of the River will suffer again.

  24. Sean Murphy November 29, 2015 at 8:47 pm #


    Talking about Cambrai and the River Murray what about The Burra Lakes.

    Allocating 1,200 GL a year to evaporate from the Southern Lakes is an absurd waste of fresh water when salt water would be just as effective at keeping the Murray Mouth open. I also think some of the water allocated for evaporation could be stored elsewhere in S.A. to deliver a large scale reliable water supply, something we haven’t had for many years ( an expansion in water storage capacity I mean).
    The Burra lakes ( Apoinga lagoon, Porter lagoon ) south of Burra together can hold around 3,000 GL of water in deep bodies of water. Apoinga lagoon has a surface area of around 50 sq.km and an average depth of around 30 metres. This means that it contains 1,500 GL ( about the same volume as the Southern Lakes ). Evaporation from the South Lakes is around 1.3 metres per annum and given their surface area is 860 sq. km gives the 1,300 GL evaporation Tim Flannery mentioned.
    By contrast, Apoinga lagoon with its much smaller surface area would result in only 50 x 1.3 = 65 GL year. This is a tiny amount of water lost to evaporation. It also means that if the lake was filled to capacity in a wet year ( like the current year ) it could be held in reserve for about ten years an by itself could supply Adelaide with the 100 GL that it draws from the Murray several times over.
    The only obstacle is the need to build a dam and provide pumping from Morgan up to Apoinga Lagoon. Guess what – the Morgan/Whyalla pipeline runs about 5 km to its north! If we can use the abundant wind resources in the area to drive the pumping for near zero running cost, then the water moved the 50 km from the Murray will not be so valuable that it is too expensive to use again. After all, the pumps already in use from the Murray to Adelaide’s catchment reservoirs seem to do the job economically.
    Better still, from the Burra Lakes, water can flow in three directions :
    1. Easterly back to the River Murray by existing small creek and channels
    2. South-Westerly towards Gawler and thence to our northern suburbs
    3. North- Westlery into the Broughton River through Crystal Brook and south of Port Pirie.
    And so there are multiple useful options for handling the situation when there is too much water in the system.

  25. jennifer November 30, 2015 at 8:55 am #

    Sean Murphy, Thank you for this additional information, it shows a real understanding of the situation and a desire to achieve practical solutions. Jennifer.

  26. jaycee December 1, 2015 at 2:12 pm #


    An enormous amount of research has been done on the water supplies around Burra, including the lakes…The state govt’ already pumps water to the town from a branch of the Swan Reach Stockwell pipeline. the ground water is highly saline and can vary considerably in the many bores in the district.
    Burra is an old copper mining area, so the water there can be unsuitable for consumption..as a amatter of fact, the only significant mining operation there has its own desalination plant for its water supply.
    I did do a read-up a while ago on the district and the water problems there…the local farmers have a lot to say on the subject, one, if I recal, remarked that the creek on his property used to run at least ten times a year, but now it only runs about once in ten years…(his words).

    So make of that what you can, but it doesn’t sound like a worth-while option.

  27. Daryl McDonald December 2, 2015 at 4:55 am #


    It seems we are in furious agreement on a number of issues. Not suprizing given many of our past experiences appear to be similar.. A major difference is the prevailing BELIEF that South Australians carry that the Murray is OVERALLOCATED.
    Could you please explain to we SLOWLURNRS, how this is so, given that Sth Aust has its full 100% ENTITILMENT, yet we in the NSW Murray Valley, are struggling along on 15%! An objective thinker would be asking where the problems with water sharing lie. You will rarely find the optimum solution unless you accurately define the problem.

    Cheers, SLOWLURNR.

  28. jaycee December 2, 2015 at 9:03 am #


    While you may claim that SA. gets 100% of it’s water allocation, THAT is an administrative figure “as a whole” between the govt’ and the authority, not the actual “objective” reality to most if not ALL irrigators.

    Given that natural logic demonstrates that the higher up the river one goes, the greater percentage one has to the source supply, so then SA. is at the bottom of the ladder and the State Govt’ must try its best to guarantee that supply. To claim ad hoc that we get 100% (of a overall percentage) and then to “individulise” your own situation as 15% is disingenuous and misleading.

    With only one major source of river supply in SA. , it is surely an imperative to maintain a supply to the state and its citizen body of a healthy percentage of that water ..likewise, it would be reckless to lease the total over to crop irrigation and none for drinking.

    As for allocation upstream, one can consult Mr. Google on the priority of the MIS. producers and flood-plain harvesters who control vast amounts of water both going into and being taken out of the system…I did do several searches in this area, and while much is concentrated in annual company reports , govt’ (copyrighted) pdf’s and specialised (vineyards etc.) agriculture, there is the image and statistics of much chicanery, busted projects and MIS. companies (that look suspiciously like ponzi schemes) and “out-of-pocket” growers and suppliers to these shonkey businesses.

    With the obvious wheeling and dealing of such a dog’s breakfast of “private-enterprise” management or influence over water buying and selling in your vast area, I’d suggest a revolution to take control of your lively hoods and future!

    “…If dry conditions continue, general security water users in the NSW Murray will start the season on July 1 with no allocation.


    High security irrigators will begin their season with 80 per cent of their entitlement.

    The outlook in the Murrumbidgee is slightly better, with general security irrigators expected to start the new water year with 8 per cent of their entitlement.

    It is likely high security irrigators in that valley will start with 95 per cent of their allocation.

    It is estimated that average carryover water will be 30 per cent in the Murray and 19 per cent in the Murrumbidgee.”

    And , Daryl…just WHAT is a “high security irrigator”?

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