Hysterical claims drown out the facts on water

My piece in the Herald Sun this morning

The South Australian election has temporarily benched the political struggle over water use in the Murray-Darling. That region, responsible for over 35 per cent of Australia’s agricultural output, has become a political football with farmers facing pressure from greens and green academics.

In 1995, around 11,000 of the system’s 32,000 gigalitres were allocated to farmers (about 2,500 gigalitres is for drinking water) when state governments agreed to issue no more irrigation licences.

Green activists then orchestrated hysterical claims focussing on the state of the river. “Our continent is falling apart”, said the catastropharian Tim Flannery-led “Wentworth Group of concerned scientists”. Other bloodcurdling assertions claimed, “salt is destroying the rivers and land like a cancer”, and that animals and plants were facing extinction. None of this was true – land salinity, for example, affects only 0.4 per cent of Australia, almost all of it due to natural salt outcrops.

In addition to being driven by green fictions, the Murray-Darling water policy also seeks to ensure freshwater in the lakes at the Murray mouth. Ironically, that water allocation actually modifies nature by feeding lakes would be naturally salt water some of the time – and at a cost of some $7.5 billion!

Meanwhile the green activists are already preparing the ground for taking back 7,000 gigalitres, almost two thirds of irrigators’ water.

Politicians often trumpet the great agricultural opportunities presented by booming Asian economies. But they fail to make the connection between supplying these markets and the regulations they impose preventing farmers from providing that supply. Regulations are throttling the Murray Darling region. The rest of Australia which supplies goods and services to the area faces consequent losses but most politicians are either asleep at the wheel or part of the problem.

See the full piece here.  We could be such a wealthy country if only politicians and activists did not impede income creation.

 

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50 Responses to Hysterical claims drown out the facts on water

  1. RobK

    Water use engineering and dependancy is a critical factor in any civilized culture. Historically it has contributed to the demise of past civilizations. Prudent use of fresh water and cheap energy is what defines our culture. Thank you Alan for highlighting fundamentals to prosperity yet again.

  2. Ƶĩppʯ (ȊꞪꞨV)

    If you didn’t know better you would think the left were out to trash our civilisation….oh wait

  3. Davefromweewaa

    “We could be such a wealthy country ” Hear hear!
    We need to win a propaganda war against the acclaim seeking virtue signalers. Black hearted misanthropes of the greens should not be seen as holding the moral high ground. 0

  4. Bruce

    So, do the eco-nazis also plan to destroy the entire Snowy scheme to restore “natural flow”?

    Probably.

  5. egg_

    Other bloodcurdling assertions claimed, “salt is destroying the rivers and land like a cancer”, and that animals and plants were facing extinction. None of this was true – land salinity, for example, affects only 0.4 per cent of Australia, almost all of it due to natural salt outcrops.

    Salt is leached out of land minerals by water flow – that’s how it got into the ocean. It’s the management of said water flow(s) that matters.

  6. egg_

    In South Australia, inland waters such as rivers, streams and lakes can naturally have a wide range of salinities due to evaporation and saline groundwater inflows.

  7. stackja

    Greening of the Murray Darling gets dirty.

  8. egg_

    Greening of the Murray Darling gets dirty.

    Greens muddy the water.

  9. Spring is coming

    FFS. I know a farm v large along a certain river owned by a family living in Melbourne who were forced to sell a not insignificant portion of their water rights. This water was to be used for enviro purposes. Well several years later they were encouraged to buy it back at a large discount. These people are filthy rich. Gaining at taxpayer expense. Are we seriously going to make them go on the roundabout again? They would be more than happy to do their bit for the greens cos it pays well!

  10. val majkus

    Alan, I’m sure you’ve seen the 4 corners expose of irrigation misuse in the Darling https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9W6fSlZBZ5M; this is dramatically affecting the lower Darling and until this is properly addressed lower Darling inhabitants and farmers are suspicious of any increase in water allocation

  11. Entropy

    I would be very, very careful about that four corners “exposay” Val. Journalists never let facts get in the way of their story, particularly on the ABC.

  12. John Constantine

    Deindustrialising the Murray darling basin is political victory for their left.

    The clearances of Tory electorates allows their electoral commission to react to the twenty five percent job losses where the green plan has hit hardest by redistribution of rural seats to the new imported vote plantations.
    Transform the polity.

    Comrades.

  13. val majkus

    some photos of the Darling taken Feb 2016 south of Pooncaire! https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10153456841692897&set=pcb.1018126311559087&type=3&theater- this river can only take so much irrigation and not on the large scale which cotton requires

  14. Alphonse

    Not a mention of cotton’s thirstiness compared to other crops. Or of coalition croneyism. Or of impact on downstream agriculture. Just an echo chamber of anti-green priors.

  15. Davefromweewaa

    Careful there Val & Al. Cotton typically takes seven megs per hectare, produces fibre and oilseed and stockfeed meal and is usually quite lucrative. Evaporating freshwater from a lake that used to be an estuary produces nothing for anyone.

  16. herodotus

    The Greens out-lie the Australian Liars Party.

  17. a reader

    SOuth Australia is the problem with the Murray-Darling. A river that for most of history was nothing more than a series of muddy ponds is destroyed by the South Australians and their barrages.

  18. Adelagado

    a reader
    #2650267, posted on March 2, 2018 at 4:56 pm

    SOuth Australia is the problem with the Murray-Darling. A river that for most of history was nothing more than a series of muddy ponds is destroyed by the South Australians and their barrages.

    South Australia takes just 7% of all the water that is extracted from the Murray. (Adelaide gets just 2 of that 7). Its QLD, NSW and VIC that grab 93% of the water outtake and benefit most from the Locks.

    If you want to remove the Barrages and return the lower lakes to a natural state then you should also remove all the Locks on the Murray so the river can flow in natural cycles as it once did. You can’t have one without the other.

  19. val majkus

    think this is a reasonably fair article http://www.abc.net.au/news/rural/2017-07-25/darling-river-communities-respond-to-four-corners/8740130
    note this from the article Her calls were echoed by grazier Kate McBride of Tolarno Station in western New South Wales who featured in the report. Darling River pastoralist Kate McBride wants a royal commission into how the NSW Government has managed its obligations under the Basin Plan. (ABC: Sofie Wainwright) “Last year we had eight months of absolutely no water; we couldn’t pump to our stock in some places,” Ms McBride said.

  20. egg_

    Evaporating freshwater from a lake that used to be an estuary produces nothing for anyone.

    Isn’t that the charge against the SA Greens – allowing good water to just evaporate on a grand scale?
    Looney Ponds?

  21. egg_

    Instead of a Political solution p1ssing good money up the wall, why not properly regulate/Police pumping stations with regulation sized piping, etc. rather than rely on an honesty system?

  22. val majkus

    another more recent story http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-02-13/murray-darling-authority-powerless-against-floodwater-harvesting/9426138 about the harvesting of flood water which should be allowed to run down the river

  23. val majkus

    then there’s the Menindee Lakes, for an overview https://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/broken-hill-water-supply-hit-by-is-slowly-dying-of-thirst/news-story/b7a593fd998057fe09a8cb97e7b849ad
    lead in paras … BROKEN Hill is dying, as slowly and surely as it’s ­drying.

    That’s the diagnosis from Dr Ramu Nachiappan, the town’s GP of 25 years. The legendary old mining town and birthplace of BHP — Broken Hill Proprietary — has been drained of its water supply by a deadly treble: too much water taken from the Darling River by cotton farmers to the north, too much sent to the south to flush the Murray River, and then a crippling drought.

    there’s been a flood since then but the lakes are rapidly drying again sending water to the south

  24. val majkus

    some up to date figures on the Menindee Lakes draining
    https://www.facebook.com/groups/764921983546189/permalink/1310371399001242/
    They are still draining Menindee Lakes past Weir 32 at 3,937 ML per Day,
    16.02.2017 + They are draining Lake Cawndilla as well at 660 ML per Day.
    Lakes > Menindee + Cawndilla held 80 years worth of water for Broken Hill.
    Lake Menindee has drained Day & Night since 15.11.2016, 90% to 38.9%.
    Only 73 Days till Lake Menindee is Drained Again, IT DIDN’T EVAPORATE.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Vz8FoQHuIQ&sns=fb
    The Menindee Lakes System has now recovered to above 640 GL = 37%,
    the water will now be shared between Victoria, NSW and South Australia,
    until it falls to 480 GL as outlined in the Murray Darling Basin Agreement.
    http://realtimedata.water.nsw.gov.au/mob…/latest_values.htm…
    The Draining secretly started on 15.11.2016, but told us on 30.11.2016.
    waterinfo.nsw.gov.au/drr/data/darling.storages.html
    DPI Water have given MDBA permission to start Draining the water from
    the Menindee Lakes System down to 480 GL starting from 1st Jan 2017.
    MDBA is going to more than triple the amount of water Draining from the Menindee Lakes, from 1,700 ML per Day to 6,500 ML per Day – 9.01.2017.
    Release reduced from 5,000 ML per Day to 4,000 ML per Day – 1.02.2017.
    They started draining Lake Cawndilla too, down the Anabranch – 7.02.2017
    http://www.water.nsw.gov.au/…/recovery_menindee_bewshers_re…
    MDBA’s plan is for Lakes Menindee and Cawndilla to be drained and shut
    down, then water will be allowed to flow straight past us and down stream.
    A drainage channel would also need be constructed in Lake Pamamaroo.
    ( so they can refill Copi Hollow only each time water is sent from upstream )
    The report says this would save 248 GL per year ( us on New Pipeline ? ),
    but this scheme would produce unacceptable Bad Environmental Effects.
    This sounds like the scheme they are planing to start using by May 2017.
    They are thinking of lowering the 480 GL rule to 275 GL with New Pipeline.
    livedata.mdba.gov.au/system-view
    The Menindee Lakes System is down to 66.2% at 1,146 GL – ( 16.02.2017)
    http://realtimedata.water.nsw.gov.au/…/basi…/425_DARLING.htm
    The Darling is flowing past Bourke at 247 ML per Day – ( 16.02.2017 ).
    The Darling is flowing past Louth at 121 ML per Day – ( 16.02.2017 ).
    The Darling is flowing past Tilpa at 135 ML per Day – ( 16.02.2017 ).
    The Darling is flowing past Wilcannia at 75 ML per Day – ( 16.02.2017 ).
    waterinfo.nsw.gov.au/drr/darling.shtml
    Our water still Draining past Weir 32 at 3,937 ML per Day – ( 16.02.2017 ).
    The Darling is flowing past Pooncarie at 3,430 ML per Day – ( 15.02.2017 ).
    The Darling is flowing past Burtundy at 3,510 ML per Day – ( 16.02.2017 ).
    The Murray is flowing at L10 / Wentworth at 8,052 ML / Day – ( 16.02.2017)
    http://www.sawater.com.au/…/the-ri…/river-reports/daily-flow-report
    The Hume Dam is holding 2,433 GL -.80.8% & still falling – ( 16.02.2017 ).
    Lake Victoria holding 462 GL & draining at 1,962 ML / Day – ( 16.02.2017 ).
    The Murray river is still flowing to SA at 9,070 ML per Day – ( 16.02.2017 )

  25. Davefromweewaa

    “You can’t have one without the other.”
    Dunno about that, adelago.
    I’d put one more weir where it runs into the lakes, use canals and pipes to supply irrigators and let the sea back in. Reduce evaporation by 95%, increase productivity and improve the health of the lakes. Rather have flathead and snapper in there than European carp!

  26. Adelagado

    Davefromweewaa
    #2650295, posted on March 2, 2018 at 5:46 pm

    “You can’t have one without the other.”
    Dunno about that, adelago.
    I’d put one more weir where it runs into the lakes, use canals and pipes to supply irrigators and let the sea back in. Reduce evaporation by 95%, increase productivity and improve the health of the lakes. Rather have flathead and snapper in there than European carp!

    Yeah thats been suggested. And I wouldn’t be against it if it stacked up. But ultimately you have to let a lot of the river flow out to sea anyway so it can flush itself.

  27. Fat Tony

    Adelagado
    #2650314, posted on March 2, 2018 at 6:23 pm

    But ultimately you have to let a lot of the river flow out to sea anyway so it can flush itself.

    Adelago – could you please explain what this really achieves and the balance of any benefits gained against the loss of productivity in agriculture? Genuine question.
    Thanks

  28. Adelagado

    Fat Tony
    #2650325, posted on March 2, 2018 at 6:39 pm

    Adelagado
    #2650314, posted on March 2, 2018 at 6:23 pm

    But ultimately you have to let a lot of the river flow out to sea anyway so it can flush itself.

    Adelago – could you please explain what this really achieves and the balance of any benefits gained against the loss of productivity in agriculture? Genuine question.
    Thanks

    Salt, chemicals, boat pollution, cow shit, carp shit, etc, etc, all ends up in the river. If the river doesn’t flow then all that crap is going to stay in the water and poison it. If you then try to use that water for irrigation it almost does more harm than good. (So you’ll eventually get less production, not more). You’ve got to let the fresh water in at the top and flush the crap water out at the bottom.

    Healthy river water is good for agriculture.

  29. RealWorld

    Does anyone understand how little water above Menindee ever makes it to the Murray? In a dry year 97% is list in evaporation – always that’s where most ends up. Yet all focus is on the few percent farmers use. Sticking to facts rather than emotive crap would be a welcome change.

  30. old bloke

    Flood Lake Eyre by building a canal from Port Augusta. The water would evaporate and fall as rain along the Great Dividing Range from southern Queensland to New South Wales.

    All that water would end up in the Darling and Murray river systems.

  31. egg_

    Flood Lake Eyre by building a canal from Port Augusta. The water would evaporate and fall as rain along the Great Dividing Range from southern Queensland to New South Wales.

    “The Great Inland Sea”.

  32. Tel

    Salt, chemicals, boat pollution, cow shit, carp shit, etc, etc, all ends up in the river. If the river doesn’t flow then all that crap is going to stay in the water and poison it. If you then try to use that water for irrigation it almost does more harm than good. (So you’ll eventually get less production, not more). You’ve got to let the fresh water in at the top and flush the crap water out at the bottom.

    Healthy river water is good for agriculture.

    That’s one of the dumbest things I’ve ever read.

    Putting water with a trace of cow shit on a crop “almost” does more harm than good? So better leave the crop dry?!?

    Roughly every 30 years the Murray River has a bunch of floods, it flushes out just fine. Just leave the farmers alone to figure out whether to put water on their crops or not. They know what does more harm than good, they don’t need a bunch of green voters sitting around a coffee shop to explain it to them.

  33. Yohan

    You never read so much lies and nonsense on a subject as the Murray river water allocation. You are all subject to a lobbying campaign by farming groups who are taking too much water and have stopped the flow.

    Yes at times, during the summer, the Murray would dry up at the mouth and become a series of lakes. But in the winter (and every other season except for Summer) it would flow like any other river, and thus cleanse itself. Dishonest people are taking that one fact –that it sometimes dried up in the summer months– as an argument to not ever letting it flow again.

    Can you see the ridiculous dishonesty of this position?

    By the time the Murray gets to the sea it has turned into a polluted sewer. The water is so toxic that accidentally swallowing one mouthful will leave you ill and vomiting. So yes – it needs to be flushed every now and then. And yes the farmers in QLD and NSW cannot just keep using water without regard to those downstream.

    When they have one of these flushes, which do not even happen every year, there is never ending media whining about how those idiots in SA are wasting water. Well you should see this ‘water’ that is being wasted, its brown toxic sludge.

  34. RealWorld

    That’s the way yohan
    Don’t let facts interfere with your green religion
    Farmers take a fraction

  35. Entropy

    The other bizarre thought is that just because a flow is un the MDB, it must get eventually into the Murray unless those land rapists take it.
    Thing is, most of the flow in the top end never goes to the Darling, evaporating in overland flow or in terminal systems like the Narran or even the Menindee Lakes which would rarely get the volumes. Needed to overtop into the river systems. Totemic evil, Cubby Station is an example of that, probably reduces Narran lake water levels by few inches at least. It is always entertaining listening to graziers on those terminal lake systems pretending there has been vandalism upstream and the water taken from the Darling because they fear they will get less grass once the lake has dried out.

  36. val majkus

    By the time the Murray gets to the sea it has turned into a polluted sewer. The water is so toxic that accidentally swallowing one mouthful will leave you ill and vomiting. So yes – it needs to be flushed every now and then

    that’s certainly an argument for letting the sea in

  37. Old Irrelevant me

    Flood Lake Eyre, You’d want to make that canal rather wide and deep. Then sit back and watch the realestate prices go north. What a lovely place to retire to. Water all the way to Birdsville almost. SALT WATER though. There are always trade offs, so what are they for this rather big aside.

  38. Old Irrelevant me

    Bugger cant edit, I meant to ask is this the cheapest option to arrange for water to fall on the great divide, given it may not. What about doing a Snowy on one or two other rivers up north that may be cheaper and relieve the hinterland of a deluge like its getting now. Cost is what I’m thinking about, Cost and benefit

  39. egg_

    What about doing a Snowy on one or two other rivers up north

    IIRC the Gwydir has the best rapids in Oz and its Copeton Dam was built to supply Packer’s cotton farms.

  40. egg_

    Flood Lake Eyre, You’d want to make that canal rather wide and deep. Then sit back and watch the realestate prices go north. What a lovely place to retire to. Water all the way to Birdsville almost. SALT WATER though.

    IIRC poster GM suggested using the desal plant to pump fresh water into inland storage – Lake Eyre would turn it saline by the time it reached it, anyway.

  41. egg_

    IIRC poster GM suggested using the desal plant to pump fresh water into inland storage

    Whilst Pwong makes much noise about the Murray-Darling, desal plants around the Country are reportedly costing taxpayers $100k per day (maintenance contracts) sitting idle.

  42. Adelagado

    egg_
    #2650719, posted on March 3, 2018 at 11:21 am

    Flood Lake Eyre, You’d want to make that canal rather wide and deep. Then sit back and watch the realestate prices go north. What a lovely place to retire to. Water all the way to Birdsville almost. SALT WATER though..

    I’m not sure if it would stay salty. If it was already partially full when the Queensland floods arrived it might even be possible to ‘backflush’ it out via Lake Torrens (another dry salt lake) and a canal to Port Augusta. Over the course of say 50 years it might even be possible to turn the lake to lightly salted or even fresh water. It would depend of course on whether a flooded Lake Eyre is higher than sea level. I just don’t know.

    Regarding the actual engineering requirements. It should be no big deal with modern machinery. Its only a few hundred kilometers if it went via Lake Torrens. Over 1400kms of canals were dug in South Australia’s south east 100 years ago with manpower and primitive steam shovels.

  43. More than 20 years of Greens AntiDamism has helped wreck water policy.
    All environmental flows should be cancelled.
    Perth seawater desal was never imperative.
    There were plenty other water sources and still are.
    Lead to decades of amazing climate agitprop from State Govt and their Watercrats.
    That poisonous policy spread east with its bad science seeding through COAG the $20Bn waste in eastern desal that have been idle since construction.
    Cape Town is being prepared as a new GreenLeft pro-desal policy push here.
    Sheesh how this place is rooted.

  44. egg_

    Spencer Gulf Canal

    Spencer Gulf is the South Australian gulf which faces Lake Eyre (famously dry and below sea level)
    There have been proposals in the past to build a canal from Spencer Gulf to permenantly fill Lake Eyre and Lake Torrens.

    This idea is has its merits, as it may alter the climate of Australia’s dry interior by incresing rainfall through evaporation from the lake waters. In the current global climate change model, the interior of southern Australia is expected to get even drier than at present, and additional precipitation would be essential for argicultural production. Therefore the reason for dismissing ideas such as this may no longer be valid. Should we reconsider?

    What
    The basic idea is a canal to Lake Torrens which is approximately 100km overland from sea. Lake Torrens has been naturally dry for all but one of the last 150 years of white settlement in the area. This lake, if filled, would then provide vast amounts of water (saline, but evaporation/precipitation would bring clean water) to the area. A further canal to Lake Eyre would easily fill this below-sea-level lake to become permenantly full. (currently it has water approximately one year in three)

    Places
    Lake Torrens
    28 m above sea level
    Lake Eyre
    up to 15 m below sea level
    Lake Frome
    3 m above sea level

    How
    A ‘sea canal’ from the top of Spencer Gulf would link sea waters to Lake Torrens. Approximately 80km in length.
    A ‘lakes canal’ to link Lake Torrens to Lake Eyre. Approximately 80km in length.
    Gradually undermining the surface of and dredging a canal to Lake Torrens until tidal forces can begin shifting sediment.
    This would be an engineering work in the same magnitude as the Panama and Suez canals.

    Note that Lake Torrens is above sea level, and would have to be excavated to at least 50m below the surface in order to fill. Lakes Eyre and Frome could fill naturally.

    Letting sea water into Lake Eyre by means of a channel cut from Spencer Gulf was considered by the Government in 1883 and rejected. The length of a canal would be 400 km, its slope 3 x 10-5 and required bottom width 1.5 km. With estimated 10 km3 of excavations, the magnitude of earthworks would be without precedent in the world.[1]

  45. egg_

    The evaporation from a water surface of 50 000 km2 (proposed inland reservoirs) at 2500 mm a year could cause a fall of rain of 100 mm over 1 250 000 km2 of the dry inland. That rain after refreshing the vegetation would evaporate and fall again as rain.

    http://www.k26.com/eyre/the_lake/ideas/fill_lake_eyre_/fill_the_lake.html

  46. Adelagado

    egg_
    #2650829, posted on March 3, 2018 at 2:02 pm

    The evaporation from a water surface of 50 000 km2 (proposed inland reservoirs) at 2500 mm a year could cause a fall of rain of 100 mm over 1 250 000 km2 of the dry inland. That rain after refreshing the vegetation would evaporate and fall again as rain.

    http://www.k26.com/eyre/the_lake/ideas/fill_lake_eyre_/fill_the_lake.html

    1883 is a long time ago. Planes hadn’t been invented then. Without aerial surveys did they really know the full extent of the Qld flood plains that eventually lead to Lake Eyre? Earthworks on the scale of the Panama and Suez canals sounds like a bit of an exaggeration to me. Does it really need to be 1.5 ks wide? Even the Murray River is only a hundred metres wide in places. It would be interesting to see a modern day appraisal of the idea. But I doubt we’ll ever see big schemes again. The green opposition kills everything nowadays.

  47. egg_

    1883 is a long time ago

    The was the direct channel proposal, not the later ones via the lake chains, no?

  48. Adelagado

    egg_
    #2650888, posted on March 3, 2018 at 4:25 pm

    1883 is a long time ago

    The was the direct channel proposal, not the later ones via the lake chains, no?

    Yeah, sorta. The 2 proposals seem to be be conflated in that Wiki Spencer Gulf Canal. Even the ‘via Lakes’ proposal requires Panama Canal earthworks according to that article. Sounds like BS to me. Panama Canal had to go through mountains.

  49. Old Irrelevant me

    Hey so this has some merit. Though to offset costs I’d suspect it best to wait till the miners have nothing to do and then have them do it. Or perhaps real estate (who else would prize that much coastline?) could look at funding it. Sort of a buy off the plans sort of thing.
    Now where would that leave us with the rivers flowing the wrong way off the great divide, must be some that can be diverted. But the cost may prove harder to offset.

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