I spilt my tea over a story at ABC News Online last Thursday.
Entitled ‘Murray River flows at record low’, without quoting a specific source, it stated:
“The water level in the Murray River is at its lowest since records began more than 100 years ago.”
I rang a couple of friends that live beside the River last Friday and they said it still has lots of water in it.
Yet less than 100 years ago, in 1914, it ran dry.
Indeed the ABC News Online piece goes on to explain that South Australian irrigators are still receiving 80 percent of their water entitlements so there must be a bit of water still in the river.
I contacted the ABC and they replied that it may take up to four weeks for a detailed response.
I contacted the Murray Darling Basin Commission and they explained that despite record low inflow:
“Because of the weirs and the provision of regulated flows downstream of dams, water levels are higher than historical minimums.”
It would appear that the ABC has confused record low inflows with record low water levels – a significant error in the scheme of things.
The story then goes on to quote water expert Peter Cullen and South Australia’s Minister for the Murray, Karlene Maywald, lamenting the catastrophe.
But there is no catastrophe because despite the dry weather, the dams and weirs that everyone loves to hate, have served their purpose so far – they stored water when it did rain, so the river can keep flowing during this extended drought.
Picture taken of the dry Murray River bed at Riversdale on 1st January 1914 – courtesy of Daryl McDonald.