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Crazy economics: Spend $10 billion and rescue the Murray river carp fisheries?

It just shows how dry Australia is and how pathetic we are with water. Australia’s largest river ends in an artificial dam full of feral European Carp. Lobbyists are campaigning hard (and successfully) to take water from upstream farmers to restore the flow. According to Jennifer Marohasy, one of the main outcomes will be to increase a massive artificial freshwater estuary that only exists because several kilometers of man-made barrages were built across the end of the river in the 1930′s. She makes a case that we’d be better off using the $10 billion dollars and the water to restore natural wetlands or to produce food. As she says “Taking one-third of upstream Murray water from farmers to feed a downstream carp fishery makes no economic, environmental or agricultural sense.

I spoke to Marohasy on the phone today and she makes the point that the Murray River was in strife in the 1980′s, and it did need extra water-flow, but a lot of action had already been taken, and river health improved before this latest $10 billion dollar plan was pledged in April 2007. (For example, in October 2005 the “world’s largest delivery of environmental water“, the equivalent of a Sydney Harbour full of water flooded into the Barmah-Millewah red gum forest that straddles the Murray River upstream of Echuca.) Some of the extra water may help, but how much? The national debate is dominated by vested interests, is very one-sided, and there are hard questions to be answered about the cost-benefits of such a major water buy-back.  -  Jo

——————————————-

Guest Post by Jennifer Marohasy

Mulloway, not carp, belong in the Murray River’s estuary

Originally posted at On Line Opinion

Most Australians have never visited the Murray River, and even fewer know that it ends in a vast and shallow freshwater lake. The freshwater lake is separated from the Southern Ocean by 7.6 kilometres of barrage that were built in the 1930s across the five channels that converge on the Murray River’s sea mouth.

The barrages dammed the estuary and the artificial lake now sits almost 1 metre above sea level and covers an area of about 650 km² (250 mi²). This artificial lake is so vast that you can’t see from one side to the other, and it evaporates the equivalent of about two Sydney Harbour’s full of freshwater each year. It is full of carp, a pest fish introduced from Europe.

Before the barrages were built mulloway, Agyrosomus japonicas, were a mainstay of the local fishery. Milang, a little port on the shores of Lake Alexandrina was home to a hundred mulloway fishermen who routinely sent off several hundred tons of fish to the Adelaide and Melbourne fish markets. Back then the central basin of the wave-dominated barrier estuary was sometimes full of freshwater and sometimes full of salty water, the nature of the mix depended on the tides, the winds and Murray River flows.

According to South Australian historian J.C. Tolley it was the ocean that most affected the size and position of the Murray River’s sea mouth:

The position of the channel at the mouth is governed principally by the ocean… During the great 1956 flood, the highest ever recorded on the lower Murray, the river outlet, although wider and deeper than normal, was situated in the easterly section of the overall movement pattern and was in a similar position as the situation of the mouth during the dry year of 1914.

However in April 1938, during a violet storm the mouth doubled its width in a few days and a great deal of sand at the western extremity was washed away. Within two months the channel had narrowed and when surveys were carried out 12 months later the position of the outlet was in almost the same situation as before the storm. During this period there was no great fluctuation in the volume of fresh water coming down the river.

Murray River flow was usually good in spring, but by mid summer it had often slowed and if conditions were calm a sandbar would quickly form and sometimes block the Murray’s sea mouth. Then usually by March a south westerly wind had picked up. The old fishermen say, that at that time of year the mulloway would hangout in the underwater canyons beyond the Murray’s mouth, as though reluctant to come in. Then on the big tides, always with the full moon, large schools would race through the Murray’s sea mouth.

The year the barrages were sealed, the mulloway came in and then were trapped, on each ebbing tide, churning in the channels below the barrages. There is an old photograph of the Goolwa wharf groaning under 160 ton of dead mulloway.

Now the dominant fish species in Lake Alexandrina is the pest, European carp, Cyprinus carpio. This is a freshwater species, it wouldn’t exist in the lake except for the barrages that dammed the estuary and stopped the tide.

Hundreds of tonnes of carp are commercially harvested every year from Lake Alexandrina and much of what is not used for cray bait or human consumption is converted into the plant fertilizer, Charlie Carp. The commercial carp fishery in the Lower Murray in 2008/2009 was reported as 792 tonnes worth A$863,000.

The local commercial carp fishermen, including Henry Jones, are very outspoken about the need to increase freshwater flows to the dammed estuary.

But of course they never say, “dammed estuary”!

Rather they pretend that the water is for the environment. They pretend that they are doing their bit to get rid of the carp by commercially harvesting them. In fact, if the estuary was restored and the Southern Ocean allowed to roll-in each autumn as it once did naturally, there would be no carp fishery because there would be no carp: they would be flushed out to sea with the tides.

Instead, as part of an on-going and misguided environmental campaign, ostensibly about water reform in the Murray Darling and, in particular, the need for more water for the “Murray’s mouth”, the Australian government has legislated a new Basin Plan.

So successful has the campaigning been that the freshwater allocation for Lake Alexandrina will continue to increase, and at no cost to carp fishermen. The cost is in fact being wholly born by the Australian taxpayer who, via the Murray Darling Basin Authority, with $10 billion of your hard earned cash, is buying irrigation licences from farmers to send the freshwater down the river to Mr Jones and the European carp.

Indeed Australians have been badly mislead into believing that by taking about 1/3 of all the water used to produce food in the Murray Darling Basin and sending it down the River, the sea mouth of the Murray River can be kept open 90 per cent of the time. In fact the tides of the Southern Ocean could scour the mouth of the Murray, at no expense to Australian taxpayers, if only the Murray River’s estuary were restored.

It is no secret that much of the water bought back from irrigators will be sent down to the dammed estuary. But it is just not reported that the estuary is dammed or that there is not much natural environment left in or around Lake Alexandrina: that in effect the environmental flow is being delivered to a carp fishery surrounded by farmland and new housing estates. Of course if the estuary was restored the mulloway would come back. And the mulloway fishery can exist independently of freshwater environmental flows at the expense of food production. The mulloway fishermen harvested nature’s natural bounty.

What a sham and what a pity, given this environmental water could be used to water natural wetland further upstream or even to grow food. Australia must be indeed a rich country if we can afford to spend $10 billion dollars subsiding a carp fishery.

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Crazy economics: Spend $10 billion and rescue the Murray river carp fisheries?, 9.3 out of 10 based on 70 ratings

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51 comments to Crazy economics: Spend $10 billion and rescue the Murray river carp fisheries?

  • #
    Truthseeker

    So the carping lobbyist gets the flow?

    151

  • #
    Andrew McRae

    the freshwater allocation for Lake Alexandrina will continue to increase, and at no cost to carp fishermen. The cost is in fact being wholly born by the Australian taxpayer

    You’ve heard about the TARP bailouts, well we’ve got Carp bailouts!
    A special midnight session was convened in which MPs were told in no uncertain terms that if they didn’t agree to bail out the Carp then by Monday morning the Charlie Carp fertilizer company would be underwater and there would be Blood’n'Bone in the streets!

    That 30% reduction of irrigation sounds absurdly large. Yes, they’re throwing tax money hand over fist into the river, just the way Big Government should be.

    140

    • #
      Dave

      Andrew,

      I don’t understand their reasoning. Any economic modelling on this decision?

      “That 30% reduction of irrigation sounds absurdly large.”
      Yes, that’s my thoughts, but with the total irrigated agriculture production of the Murray Darling Basin worth over $6 Billion, then the 30% cut will add another $2 Billion loss in food production. Just to supply carp fish for the plant fertilizer.

      What worries me is where else is this mob going to hit and buy back arable land or licences to aid the environment.

      Just some facts on the MDB economy:
      1. Buying irrigation licences from farmers cost $10 billion (1/3 of the licences)
      2. The commercial carp fishery is worth approx $1,000,000
      3. Gross Value of Irrigated Agricultural Production (GVIAP) for Australia is $13 billion
      4. Murray Darling Basin (MDB) region, the total GVIAP was $6.1 billion
      5. By 2030 indicative projections suggest agriculture emissions will reach 104 Mt CO2-e.

      This last figure (70% livestock) is going to be hit by the Greenies very soon in order to attain Kyoto estimations.

      This is absolute garbage, the way the government is controlling our lives, dollars, industry and water, simply to satisfy their little GREEN hearts at the end of each day, then get a UN or IPCC seat worth millions in income.

      Their carping on all the time, is really starting to slit me to the core.

      120

  • #
    Mark D.

    $10b here, $10b there, pretty soon it adds up to real money. What is the population of OZ again? 22 million right? 22,000,000 get to pay out $10,000,000,000? Sheite! that is a pretty expensive fish meal.

    Or did you all forget where government gets their money?

    190

    • #
      Rereke Whakaaro

      “Aww, but ya gotta pay yer taxes, aint yer? So better it goes to summat youseful like growing fish.”

      Some people just don’t get the connection Mark, I am sorry to say.

      80

    • #
      crakar

      Well i have been paying the “save the murray levy” now for over a decade FIIK where all that money has gone.

      There are more barrages and locks on the Murray (in South Oz) than i have had hot dinners but the ones with bark burn dont mention this fact. Oh and dont forget the Menindee lakes (NSW)

      http://www.menindeelakes.com/home.htm

      it only exists due to a barrage oh but now its not their fault the murray mouth clogs up with sand its all our fault and our derdy polluting ways.

      FFS this has been an issue in SA for years, many people want the barrages removed but…..but….but….what about the tourist industry?

      Once again man has shown he has not one ounce of common sense when it comes to “managing” the environment and before you warmist F&^%$rs have a crack just google yellowstone national park and see how that was screwed up when we attempted to “manage” it.

      130

      • #
        Rereke Whakaaro

        Crakar,

        When I first read the last paragraph of your comment, I misread “managing” as “mangling”. Then I thought, whatever, they both come out the same.

        90

      • #
        Popeye

        Crakar,

        You are oh so correct.

        When the “white man” first came to Australia and discovered the Murray River it was actually only a VERY long creek joining a vast number of billabongs.

        In 1922 the first of a number of locks was built at Blanchetown in South Australia. Thirteen were erected in total the last being completed on 1935 at Wangumma.

        There were also a number of weirs built along the river as well including at Yarrawonga & the Hume Weir near Albury.

        See the pictures taken of the river at various places BEFORE the locks & weirs were built at this link here. These man made items opened up the river as an inland trade waterway and many thousands prospered from this trade along the “man made” river.

        PROVES that these so called greenies and environmentalists are spruiking there standard BS. If they were serious about their convictions they should want the river returned to it’s original state – IE a creek!!! Remember these people don’t care about the food grown through irrigation on the Murray – the Murray is just another one of their “causes”. I will state though, that I also disagree with some of the crops irrigated from the Murray, including cotton and rice. Growing these in this location in Australia is absurd.

        The greenie hypocrites should also agree with Jennifer to open up the mouth of the Murray at the Coorong as well to bring it back to its natural state (if they were serious).

        Cheers,

        50

        • #
          Erny72

          At the other end of the Coorong, the farmland around Kingston SE is crossed by drainage canals intended to keep the water table low enough to permit cultivation (I don’t have anything readily to hand that indicates the annual flow).
          Blackford Drain could be diverted North into the southern end of the Coorong via Paranki Lagoon and Coxiella Lake with about 50km of canal in order to add some additional freshwater volume.
          Not exactly in a ‘pristine state’ as the Ecotards would insist, but then the water currently flowing down Blackford Drain into the Southern Ocean would originally have been seeping its way into the Coorong via Rushy Swamp anyway.

          00

  • #
    realist

    Pollies, bureaucrats, some claiming, to be scientists, and of course the all knowing activists, most if not all of whom have little if any, let alone comprehensive and relevant expertise in coastal dynamic including estuarine physical and the inter-linked ecological processes, are all keen to be responsive to “great moral challenges”. We see that clearly with the AGW scam.

    But having taken a public stand based on poor, all too often politically biased and sometimes, fraudulent and blatantly incorrect advice, they fail in having the backbone to admit they were, in hindsight, misguided, misled and now seen to be wrong at the time. So full of ego, yet so short on principle and ethics. To err is to be human, but to ignore failings or worse, to attempt to justify past mistakes is bordering on incompetence if not corruption.

    The lower lakes issue is, yet another, clear example of human folly and ignorance fuelled by arrogance fiddling with Nature. Yesterday’s “engineering solution” ends up as tomorrow’s stupid idea. Not that all engineering is stupid, but from experience, the arrogance comes often with the territory along with an attitudue of, “if it fails, we will build it bigger next time”. But to never admit they failed in application of due diligence and integration of a multi-disciplined approach is ignoring the obvious.

    From a geomorphological perspective, hard structures imposed on soft coastlines often create many more problems than they are alleged to “fix”. When fluvial processes and sedimentation dynamics on long-shore coastlines are disrupted or permanently altered, with the likes of a barrage, it results in loss of estuarine integrity. It will forever remain a weeping sore until it is acknowleged that installing the barrage was seen as a good idea at the time, but with the hindsight and the benefit of now far greater understanding, is now seen as an obvious mistake, and should be removed to let natural dynamics repair the damage.

    Will politicians and vested interests have the integrity and guts to stand up and be counted, or will they take on an odour of some old fishermen who, it is sometimes said in jest, haven’t died, they just smell that way? It’s more than carp that stink.

    110

    • #
      Rereke Whakaaro

      To err is to be human, but to ignore failings or worse, to attempt to justify past mistakes is bordering on incompetence if not corruption.

      Never underestimate the raw, naked, power of sheer stupidity. Not much can stand in its way.

      90

  • #
    Yonniestone

    Driving to Adelaide from Victoria last year the amount of water at the Murray sea mouth is astounding, unfortunately we in Victoria have suffered under the same eco insane ideas from our water authorities, lakes and catchments have had rivers and streams diverted to “Maintain the biodiversity of that ecosystem” while farmers/food growers struggle.
    But we’re only parasites, right?

    100

  • #
    Backslider

    The biggest problem is that these “solutions” is that they are always aimed at Australian farmers – the vegetable and rice growers etc. Those guys are always losing water.

    I have spent a great many years in South West Queensland and North West New South Wales. This is where the real problem with the health of the Murray/Darling lies. Multinationals farming cotton.

    I have seen 8 meters of water in the MacIntyre at Goondiwindi and the water never made it as far as Walgett. I have seen the river flow backwards when the big pumps fire up. I flew over one farm, just one, which had 40,000 megalitres in storage.

    As for the carp – blame Canberra. They were introduced as a cheap way to clean up weeds (supposedly) in the very shallow Lake Burley Griffin. As a boy I pulled trout out of that lake. Not any more (for years). You can still get trout in Googong however and no carp in there. They cannot get up the dam wall. For those who wish to argue they didn’t start in Canberra, then please explain how they made their way up Scrivener Dam?

    80

    • #
      davefromweewaa

      Well Backslider,
      Why don’t you try going without cotton?
      Seriously what is the problem with using a renewable resource to satisfy a human need?

      21

      • #
        Erny72

        “…Why don’t you try going without cotton?…”

        You mean by using about 1/6th as much water growing hemp that lasts 3 times longer than cotton?

        Growing cotton in the Murray-Darling Basin is about as short sighted as growing cotton along the Amu Darya and Syr Darya in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan respectively; one doesn’t need to be an ecotard to grasp that.
        The renewable resource you talk of is more sensibly used irrigating food crops in areas which aren’t naturally semi-arid and whose water demand lower.

        Don’t get me wrong, I don’t see any merit in flushing more freshwater into the lower lakes to support a pest fishery when breaching the barrages and returning the lakes to their natural estuarine ecosystem is clearly the correct course of action, but cotton irrigation in MDB is folly.

        00

    • #
      Gee Aye

      your final question is an easy one. Records (museum expeditions, govt departments) show carp in the MDB pre WW2, When the dam was built carp were already on both sides of Scrivener.

      00

      • #
        Backslider

        Records (museum expeditions, govt departments) show carp in the MDB pre WW2

        Not the European carp. That is false. I grew up on these rivers. Before they were introduced in Lake Burley Griffin, there was no such thing. It is the first place that any of us saw them.

        10

        • #

          Sorry backslider, you wrote “carp” and did not specify the sub species. For the readers, the carp is eurasian and has a number of sub species (the number is contestable and their species and subspecies status is also contested). The genetics of these is well studied now across their natural range and more recently in australia. Added to this is well defined taxonomy based on scales, otoliths and skeletal remains.

          All the evidence points to the introduction of the “european” (a slight misnomer) sub-species or race being introduced in the riverland with first sightings and specimens from near Mildura. As it spread from this region the new founder populations show the classic reduced genetic variation and partitioning of variation (ie the variation carried up a particular river depends, by chance, on the fish that went up that river). This means that you can, for some areas, ascribe a carp to a region based on its genetics. Lake BG does have European carp but a lot more Koi and others. They arrived sometime in the 70s (we are relying on first sightings here). How they breached Scrivener and a dozen other dams is anyone’s guess. Floods and human intervention (deliberate moving of adults or accidental transfer of water containing eggs or fry) are possible causes.

          Anyway my original post was not “false”, but if you ask a question badly you get bad answers.

          If someone could tell me why my app updates are sitting half updated for days I’d be very grateful.

          01

    • #
      Backslider

      Well Backslider,
      Why don’t you try going without cotton?
      Seriously what is the problem with using a renewable resource to satisfy a human need?

      That is a very uneducated response.

      Firstly, the Murray Darling is not a renewable resource – it needs to be taken care of responsibly. This has not happened.

      Australia’s floods are a vital and natural part of maintaining the health of our river systems, however whenever we have one it’s open slather for pumping it into storage for these farms. They have NO LIMIT on what they take.

      This is why we can see floods that see the north as an inland sea, yet the water never makes it as far as the mouth of the Murray. All of our key wetlands generally miss out.

      There is also the misnomoer of calling something a “flood”, when all it is

      Secondly, have you not heard of dryland cotton?

      11

      • #
        Backslider

        *Correction: There is also the misnomoer of calling something a “flood”, when all it is is a high river. Big difference. High rivers, also vital to the health of our river systems again are open slather for the cotton farms to pump like crazy.

        I recall the other day talking about being on a drag line and how hard it is to explain how massive they are. Likewise, you cannot comprehend the scope of cotton farming and the amount of water they use until you have seen it with your own eyes.

        01

      • #
        davefromweewaa

        I’m calling BS on you B S.
        Irrigation water is a renewable resource.
        The rivers are taken care of, have you not heard of environmental flows?
        They are limited on what they can take and all the wetlands were wet in 2010,11&12.
        Your superior education hasn’t stopped you from being a wrongologist evidently.

        10

        • #
          Backslider

          And I’ll call bullshit on you Dave From Wee Waa. Now where is Wee Waa? somebody may ask….. oh yes, it’s the very heart of North West New South Wales cotton growing country.

          So what? Your bosses sent you here just in case somebody happens to mention how you people RAPE our country?

          You talk about “environmental flows”.

          Translation: “That’s when we get so much water coming down even our 3 meter diameter pumps can’t keep up!!”.

          “Oh maaaaan… you shoulda seen when we fired those babys up the first time…. the MacIntyre was flowen’ backerds!!!”

          22

          • #

            Backslider,

            You tend to exaggerate. The common pump for extracting water during high flows is an axial flow pump; high volume, low head. The largest of these commercially available is an 800 mm model capable of transferring about 3500 litres per second. That is a lot of water but then the flow rate of these rivers during high flow events is also extremely large. Further with modern irrigation techniques cotton doesn’t use any more water than say corn or lucerne. Cotton requires about 5.2 ML/ha which includes any rain that falls during the growing season. When I grew lucerne I budgetted on 6 ML/ha. The return on both crops is similar but varies with demand obviously. Cotton has a bad rap because of the extensive nature of the operations, necessary to achieve economy of scale. On the positive side cotton is a superior cloth over synthetics which rely on petroleum for the base stock. Cotton is sustainable and renewable unlike petroleum and it is home grown unlike petroleum that must be imported.

            20

          • #
            Gee Aye

            BS I’d love to engage you in a debate about population genetics but I think you have vested interests being directed here by a keyword detecting bot of some sort. Your comments are the blood in the water to the sharks. While I disagree, with the support of data, with some of what you say, I also know that data is on your side in this debate.

            My bot comment was a parody but really, how did these people find this post?

            00

  • #
    AndyG55

    Umm.. How functional is the SA desal plant.

    Do they continue to pay for its maintenance, on top of the funds for buying water to keep the carp lake full.

    Wouldn’t it be FAR better to spent the money by actually USING the desal plant, and let farmers have the water they need ?????

    50

  • #

    Yes the carp is a useless boring fish and out of place there, it would be far better to farm some tasty native species at a premium rather than farming fish for fertilizer. Aren’t the ecoloons full of fertilizer anyway?

    60

    • #
      AndyG55

      You have pointed to a good solution.

      Fish the carp using drift nets, change them to fertiliser, get rid of the barrage and let the farmers have the water AND the fertiliser. :-)

      90

  • #
    Lars P.

    It is very sad to see how for small wins on one side – fisheries in this case – damage 100 x more is being taken into account on the “other” side.
    Like a thief that for a couple of dollars worth CD recorder (for him selling in the black market) breaks the windows and ruins a car making damage worth in the hundreds or thousands.

    Instead of letting that water being evaporated in a giant freshwater basin without any use, would it not be much better to use it upstream to produce food, for a world that still needs more food? Let the farmers pay the licenses, that would be net revenue and spend the money effectively, or simply not spend it and save it?
    Billion dollars saved, more food, which makes food cheaper, what’s not to like?

    The problem is the bureaucrats are important if they manage huge amounts of money and huge projects. Very few do think and judge the reason why the projects are there and if these make sense and still fewer do act based on what they think is the right thing to do.
    In addition to this a bureaucrat is mostly a town yuppie, a person who progressed through relationship, who resolves problems through relationship. It is the natural antagonist to a farmer who is a person standing on his feet, doing it by himself. Maybe this is part of the problem?

    60

  • #
    Geoff Sherrington

    It’s hard to get your mind around the management problems. In 2010 I wrote to the Authority and got this answer shown in part – “While the MDBA is unaware of the statistics or the source from which Professor Flannery based his statement, information the MDBA has obtained previously from the ABS shows that from 2000-01 to 2006-07 water used in irrigation dropped by 55% and the gross value of irrigated production reduced by just 3%.”

    Anybody have bright ideas on the mechanism(s)?

    20

    • #
      Debbie

      There is a lot of BS in there Geoff.
      The circumstances during that period were highly unusual.
      They have made unrealistic ‘snap shot’ assumptions about commodity prices and water sales that were driven up by the shortages during the drought.
      Some irrigators who actually did have access to their water made huge profits often by selling their allocations on the temporary market.
      The MDBA have been repeatedly taken to task over these totally unrealistic economic models.

      41

    • #
      Backslider

      information the MDBA has obtained previously from the ABS shows that from 2000-01 to 2006-07 water used in irrigation dropped by 55%

      And out come the false number, as usual. Yes, I believe that these numbers are correct for the areas that produce FOOD, however the biggest water users, the cotton farms up north, just continue to use more and more.

      The numbers for this are never seen.

      Its a very false economy. The cotton industry benefits Australia a tiny amount compared to how much is made by the multinationals. Australia does not need that much cotton – we no longer have the manufacturing that would use it.

      12

      • #
        Debbie

        No offence Backslider,
        but your comment is a sweeping generalisation with no evidence to back it up.
        I think if you looked at the evidence you would discover that the cotton growers had very little access and during those quoted years there was not a great deal of cotton grown.
        Australia exports most of its cereal and cotton and it makes a very tidy sum for Australia’s GDP.
        If it didn’t make a tidy sum. . . Australian farming families would not be growing it.
        I also respectfully suggest you read Lawrie’s post above. Your comments re the pumping are a bit exaggerated.

        10

        • #
          Backslider

          Evidence? How about you spend twenty years in the North West as I have and you will have all the evidence you need.

          cotton growers had very little access and during those quoted years

          You clearly know nothing. Do you think that there are watchmen there to make sure that they don’t take water or something? Let me tell you. They take whatever they can whenever they want.

          not a great deal of cotton grown

          LMAO!!!! You simply have no comprehension. No idea whatsoever.

          Australian farming families would not be growing it

          Australian farming families? Ahhh yes… out with the emotive bullshit. How about Lempriere and Shandong RuYi Group for a start…. hardly Australian.

          01

          • #
            davefromweewaa

            Stop wearing it Backslider, get your mates and their mates to stop wearing it too.
            Or do you think someone other than you should stop wearing it?
            Don’t blame the producers Slackbladder, it’s the greedy consumers fault!

            00

  • #
    Earl

    You can always tell when organizations or governments are stupid, incompetent, or trying to deceive.They ignore, or try to rewrite history.
    There is now, more water in the Murray/Darling system than there has been since white settlement in the region in the early 1800,s
    The Murray has dried up, or stopped flowing no less than 5 times since white colonization, 1850, 1902, 1914, 1915, 1922/23.
    In 1902, the Murray stopped flowing for 6 months. During ” The Federation Drought”, the Darling River was unnavigable for 10 years, and stopped flowing for 5 years. Paddle steamers that ventured up to Bourke at this time were stranded, and the engines used to power sawmills and other application.
    Prior to the development of water storages in the 1920,s and 1930,s the Darling was little more than a string of muddy water holes. Something which Henry Lawson took every opportunity to describe.
    Generally, it is accepted that had it not been for water storages, the Murray would have ceased to flow in the Millennium drought.
    With this in mind, perhaps the Coorong would be in better shape if the exit of the Murray was controlled by the ocean instead of ” environmental” flows.
    The increased salt may even rid the system of carp.

    40

  • #

    But think about all the empire building bureaucrats who will win assured budgets for years to come from this insanity…

    40

    • #

      THat was one of my thoughts as well. They will not suffer a failure of one of their pet projects; no matter how much and what it costs us. Meanwhile, on Facebook I wrote:

      Some might call this a $10,000,000,000 subsidy to carp fishermen who catch less than 1000 tonnes a year that gets made into fertiliser.

      Our taxes “buy back” water from irrigators for “environmental flows; into an environment that is far from natural; infested by European carp and an estuary that has been dammed (damned) to prevent natural flows of salt water back into the estuary when fresh water flows are low. Natural flows that would largely wipe out the carp infestation and allow the native Mulloway to repopulate the estuary ready for fishermen to catch and to put on the plates of Aussies; probably making a bit more money than from catching fish to turn into fertiliser.

      So what’s the game? Is it really to put the squeeze on food production by irrigators? Either way you look at it, it looks like a very expensive way to damage then environment, agriculture and fisheries.

      Our taxes at work.

      50

  • #
    Sonny

    Murray River, Murry Salby – what is this Murry month? ;)

    51

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    Eric,

    On the subject of empire building, one very prominent Australia environmentalist said to me at the height of the drought when our ABC was telling everyone about the drying Lake Alexandrina but never once showing the barrages holding back the Southern Ocean… now is not the time to draw attention to the barrages… right now we must be drawing maximum attention to the lack of freshwater because of upstream irrigation… when have effectively closed down irrigated agriculture because Australia is too dry a continent to sustain it… then we (the environmental movement) shall turn the spotlight on the barrages… then we shall campaign for their removal…

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      What struck me was that they the barrages keeping out the salt water from the estuary probbaly increases the “draw” of fresh water into the estuary. If there were salt water, then that could act as a “dam” of sorts, increasing the water depth in the streams where the exposed surface area is probably less than for the same volume of water in a shallow estuary.

      I left the study of estuaries, etc to the Civil Engineers at Uni with studies in water resources led by Jorg Imberger. My objective at the time was to graduate and get the hell out of university, ASAP. As a result, my understanding of the interface between sea and fresh water is “wanting”.

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    JMD

    Built in the 1930′s means the Barrages were likely a government ‘make work’ scheme during the depression.

    It’s never mentioned of course, but the government could only achieve this because even then, they controlled your grandparents money.

    Nothing has changed.

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    Safetyguy66

    Having lived near Mclaren Vale for a while and having an interest in the Coorong area, I read a lot of Jennifer’s material. I have to say it was extremely educational, Im amazed at how distorted the “official” papers are on the history of the barriers and the river mouth. I mean I am assuming Jennifer’s historical research is correct, I have never seen anyone challenge its accuracy, but the Murray River plans seem to completely ignore the fact that this river mouth has been messed with so much, the system is almost unrecognizable from its original stat and yet everyone talks about “restoring it” without any clue of the fact that if you actually restored it, it would be an estuary not a fresh water lake.

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    Indeed, if we were to deconstruct the barrier as many down at Goolwa wish it would at least restore the estuary;this should surely mollify the “greens” as you are returning to the situation whereby the natural system is allowed once again:floods would make their way into Alexandrina and if big enough- breach the sand and into the ocean.Conversely,during non events it would return to a largely saline environment during drought.

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    The Quiet Farmer

    I heard a rumor that the bought back water is already being sold by our cash strapped Govt. to some Asian buyers of large farmland in southern NSW. Anyone like to comment?

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    European carp became common in the Barwon/Gwydir/Namoi river systems in the late 1960early 1970s displacing native species such as catfish and silver perch in particular as they impacted on their food sources such as freshwater weeds and Crustacea. I have spent many years by any means to personally eradicate them, even expending the last of my army surplus .303 ammo on the bastards! They keep coming back…..

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    ExWarmist

    $10 Billion.

    Blessed be the vested interests.

    “…Now that’s a lot of Green…”

    /Sarc++

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    wayne, s. Job

    When the first explorers encountered the murray it was a string of water holes with a few half starved aboriginals hanging around it. The country around it was almost devoid of wild life.

    Have a look now and ask the greens if it is better now. The murray will always vary with the climatic cycles but it never again be muddy puddles.

    If the greens want a new project that was the end to rivers dumping into the sea fix Lakes Entrance. Cutting a channel through the wall of the largest body of fresh water in Australia to park a few fishing boats was the largest act of environmental vandalism ever done in Australia.

    For a small cost compared to what the green vandals are doing, a lock could be installed and slowly flush out the salt water and return the level to what it was. It would not only be a valuable water asset but one of the largest permanent wet lands in Australia.

    The green agenda seems to have very little to do with the environment.

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