THE lead story on Channel 7’s news tonight was a Commonwealth government program where there has been “inefficient spending, flawed government logic and false assumptions”. 
I thought the mainstream media had finally caught on to the absurdity of the Commonwealth’s water reform agenda where the Gillard government plans to spend $10 billion returning end-of-system flows without actually addressing the issue of the 7.6 kilometres of barrages that prevent end-of-system flows. 
But, alas, Seven’s political editor Mark Riley was reporting on the findings of a report on indigenous education, health and housing where $3.5 billion has yielded “dismally poor returns”, with progress “mixed at best”.
The Commonwealth is planning to spend more than double this, a whopping $10 billion, on the Murray Darling with absolutely no chance of success because its policy is based on the false premise that the upstream dams can supply the terminal, coastal Lakes, now known as the Lower Lakes, with a permanent supply of freshwater and that water from these lakes will flow through to the Murray’s Mouth and Coorong.
But there is simply not enough water in upstream storages to supply the Lower Lakes during drought and no water can get from the lakes to the Murray’s Mouth when the barrage gates are closed, as they were for the duration of the recent drought.
Last November the barrage gates were opened to allow all the water from the flooding in the Murray Darling Basin to flow out to sea. But this autumn, as soon as the south westerly winds picked up, and the Southern Ocean started to push into the lakes, the government had the gates closed.
Why? Because it’s government policy is to manage the Lower Lakes as an artificial freshwater system. That’s right, at the bottom of the Murray Darling there is no estuary, but rather an area about the size of Melbourne’s Port Phillip Bay that receives all the water from the Murray Darling and is kept artificially fresh by 7.6 kilometre of concrete barrage that essentially functions like a dyke.
This is really what the $10 billion allocated for water reform is all about: closing down agriculture in the Murray Darling Basin in order to provide the Adelaide Establishment with their artificial freshwater oasis for yachting and hobby farming.
The water reform agenda really has very little to do with the environment or improving water efficiencies.
Sooner-or-later a clever political reporter, like Mark Riley, must grasp the flawed government logic and false assumptions underpinning the Commonwealth government’s water reform agenda.
John Sayers says
“their artificial freshwater oasis for yachting and hobby farming.”
that’s a bit extreme Jennifer.
it’s a stalemate between those who want to open the gates and those who don’t.
Jennifer, Riley is a hopeless labor spiv, he couldn’t care less about facts or wasting billions on unnatural schemes to waste heaps of gigalitres of fresh water.
He even asked Juliar for advice to help her further con the Aussie electorate about the fraudulent co2 tax at her recent press club appearance.
dennis webb says
Jen could have mentioned the carp fishermen. It’s a million dollar industry based around harvesting carp and turning them into fertilizer (Charlie carp) that would be destroyed if the estuary was restored because carp need freshwater only.
dennis webb says
I should have mentioned that the carp are a non-native fish species, a pest species.
The irony is that insane amounts of time & money has been wasted & there are no measurable positive outcomes.
To be blunt, the only positive outcome has been delivered by our own highly unpredictable climate.
All the iconic environmental assets have bounced back in a most spectacular manner.
However, the S A contingent is S T I L L whining & whinging & demanding that we continue to waste ever increasing amounts of precious stored fresh water.
They’re still claiming it’s necessary for the end of system flows.
I think your Myth & the Murray site has started to unravel some of the nonsense.
The upstream dams cannot possibly keep those lakes at optimum fresh water levels in a run of low inflow years, even if we stopped all food production and shut down all communities downstream from the lower dams.
We need to come up with some win/win solutions.
No one is denying that S A is in a vulnerable position at the bottom of the system. However, S A needs to accept their share of the responsibility. They have definitely messed with the drainage systems from the East ( nothing to do with the Murray ) & they have definitely messed with the tidal prism and the natural estuary. The lower lakes and the Coorong need help, but the currently touted solution is just plain silly!
Keep up the good work Jen.
Ian Thomson says
About the stalemate.
Give the locals the 10billion as an adjustment package and blow up the barrages.
Bet that would fix that.
Will it happen? Nope ,no green votes in it .
Charley Carp could adjust to mulloway.
Here’s a video of taking out a dam for environmental reasons to improve salmon spawning in the Sandy River, Oregon, USA.
Ian Thomson says
That link is cool !
Can we do the Barrages ,live on national TV ,in the middle of the next drought ?
In America they would also sell multi million TV commercials during the event to sponsor the funding…
Seriously, it is an interesting precedent to take out a 1900’s man made dam for environmental reasons. It’s happening in several locations along the coastline of the Pacific Northwest of America.
The biggest obstacle here in Australia is to convince the Australian people that estuaries are worthy of protecting, and not just ‘water that is wasted out to sea’…
Susan, That forklift driver just couldn’t leave it alone and then it went so quickly.
el gordo says
Thanx Susan, a fun link.
Great link Susan!
I guess ‘flawed assumptions’ has got to be one of the biggest obstacles here?
Estauries are worthy of protection and so are our food & fibre industries.
At the moment we have an either/or philosophy which has created a very expensive stalemate.
I’m still wondering why no politicians and bureaucrats are willing tolook at solutions that would support both a healthy estaury and a thriving irrigation industry?
I note Jen’s reference to Graham Jenkin in her email at the Myth and the Murray Google group.
“The year 1902 was a drought year, but under normal conditions this would simply have meant that the lake would have been low during the summer months. However, due to the diversion of Upper Murray tributaries, and vast quantities of water being taken for irrigation purposes in New South Wales and Victoria, there was not the usual force of water coming down, and as a result, the salt water began to move up the Lower Murray and to take over Lake Alexandrina. This naturally caused great concern among all those dependent on the waters of the lake – from fishermen to squatters. At Raukkan, irrigation was brought to a halt, as was the very first important occupation of woolwashing; for both of these industries required large quantities of good, fresh water.”
She also noted that this book is often quoted in schools etc….
Interestingly, as she also noted, there were no major irrigation projects upstream in 1902.
Any diversions would have been quite small and localised.
I hope you get to ask him WHO was diverting ‘vast quantities of water’ for irigation in 1902 and WHERE were these ‘vast quantities of water’ being diverted to in 1902?
Maybe he should also supply his definition of ‘vast quantities of water’?
The assumtion is quite clearly false and just because it’s now an accepted idea, we are wasting insane amounts of money on supposedly fixing it!
It would be great if this money could be wisely spent with a win/win attitude firmly entrenched!
Ian Thomson says
Debbie, I agree.
Who was watering ?
Peter R. Smith OAM says
Hi John, Not really an extreme but the ramblings of someone who doesn’t understand the South Australian end of the Murray Darling Basin! It is not about the gates being opened or closed it is about management of the Murray Darling Basin.
Hi Neville, Let’s talk about natural and un-natural, the River Murray is highly regulated which is a fact of life which can’t be changed but what about un-natural, open channel irrigation in the Eastern States which have an evaporation rate of in excess of 7520-gigalitres!
Hi Dennis, Yes European Carp are a noxious species introduced into the Eastern States of Australia!
Hi Debbie, It must be hard to see the earth from your high chair, we in SA are not, “whining & whinging & demanding that we continue to waste ever increasing amounts of precious stored fresh water” we are asking to be treated as equals, as all Australians should be treated. Can you please answer this simple question, “how do you expect the Murray Darling Basin to empty the vast amounts of salinity if not out the River’s mouth?” The only thing the, “Myth & the Murray site” did was perpetuate the mis information, lies and propaganda! Also what a stupid comment, “The upstream dams cannot possibly keep those lakes at optimum fresh water levels in a run of low inflow years, even if we stopped all food production and shut down all communities downstream from the lower dams” emotion not fact!
As for SA, “However, S A needs to accept their share of the responsibility” we have we in SA have the most efficient irrigators in Australia. Also talking about natural are the Menindee Lakes natural and they at the moment are 1113% full?
Hi Ian, The true voice of the un educated what about the Lower Murray (Blanchetown to the Ocean) if sea water was allowed to invade that area?
Hi Susan, This is Australia with our own unique problems please don’t cloud the issues, look what damage the Hoover Dam has created. What estuary are you talking about as Lake Alexandrina was never estuarine!
Hi Debbie, Refer to the about what estuary? 1902 before the over regulation and the entire River Murray was low, probably no flow in Eastern Victoria and New South Wales all of the Murray darling Basin was suffering equally!
We are all into this together and until a body without political interference is formed to manage the Basin this is just an exercise in futility.