Research backs cut to irrigation

10 Oct, 2012 04:09 AM
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THE ailing Murray-Darling basin could get a bigger-than-expected injection of water after fresh modelling found the river system would be much better off if irrigation volumes were cut by more than the government proposes.

Flood plains and wetlands in the lower basin would be significantly improved if the system was flushed with an extra 3200 billion litres a year and if more water was released from dams and lakes, the new analysis found.

At present the draft basin rescue plan recommends returning 2750 billion litres a year, mostly by buying back irrigators' water rights.

Federal Water Minister Tony Burke keenly welcomed the new modelling by the independent Murray-Darling Basin Authority. But it has entrenched the dour battle between the states, with South Australia backing the higher figure but Victoria branding it ''totally unacceptable'', a sentiment that New South Wales supports.

The modelling found the environment would be better served by relaxing so-called ''constraints'' in the system - including releasing more water from the Hume Dam on the Victoria-NSW border and from the Menindee Lakes in western NSW.

But this would also likely involve finding ways to stop flooding of infrastructure such as roads and bridges, and buying easements to allow flooding of private property.

Mr Burke stopped short of committing to the higher figure but said he was enthusiastic about the outcomes of the research, saying the benefits exceeded his expectations and it could ''make a massive environmental difference''.

''I had always hoped that it would show some sort of environmental improvement. It has gone way beyond what I hoped it would.

''The environmental outcomes that are in this really go a long way further than I thought they were going to at 3200 (billion). So there's a level of optimism that comes [out] of that for me.''

But he said he was ''holding back on any final call and any final decision while I work through it with other ministers''.

Mr Burke will need to speak with his state counterparts, who are crucial in any final plan.

Constraints are the points along the river system where, if too much water is flushed through it, flooding of infrastructure or property occurs.

The authority did not assess whether it was possible to relax the constraints. But it did say that getting around these constraints would ''require a commitment and significant investment from both state and federal governments''.

This ''could be of critical importance to the long-term sustainability of vegetation communities'', it found.

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READER COMMENTS

Tigerdicky
10/10/2012 5:38:51 AM

Bourke, What about cleaning up the Cook River!
Frankdugong
10/10/2012 6:36:54 AM

Comments made in this round of talks of the Murray Darling Basin Plan is what that adds up to be Patent 2005265437.Research done obvious proved ground government funding through rice growers the test Asian plant growers. Believing that these people don’t know this information and would ignore the ability of growing the same amount on less area with cost down only 66%.Position as holder of this technology, + the relationship with those whom would know I have it has now entered a seriously dangerous place considering the heart break, & international interest.Whos TURN,SAME OLD REMODEL TO SUIT.
Ian Mott
10/10/2012 8:59:19 AM

First lie, the basin isn't ailing. For a while there was no rain and the basin was ailing. It rained, and it rained, and it rained again so the basin is no longer ailing. Second lie, the MDBA is not independent. It is stacked with South Australians who haven't the faintest notion of "conflict of interest".
fridgimus
10/10/2012 11:07:59 AM

Get out from behind your keyboard and come and have a look for yourself Mutt. You won't see ailing, you will see areas of dead. With each drought the dead areas will increase bringing the salt with it, until eventually the Murray is a saline drain. It won't happen overnight but it will happen if the status quo remains. That probably doesn't matter too much for people such as yourself who can't see past greed and self interest.
Will from Bordertown
10/10/2012 11:12:24 AM

"of droughts and Flooding rains".. WE spend years too dry then years with water coming out our ears. So permaculture, cities, orchards etc in theses semi desert areas are a non starter, because they need water al the time. Along comes the big flood. What do we do with it? Let it run out to sea? Hardly makes sense. What we need are profitable mechanisable annual crops that we can grow extensively then put into mothballs when it doesn't rain. Like cotton and rice. If we didn't have these crops in Australia we would have to invent them. As for the enviroment, it is used to wet & dry anyway.
fridgimus
11/10/2012 11:51:53 AM

Agree that it's used to wet and dry, problem is the periods of dry are now too long for the environment to cope.
Ian Mott
11/10/2012 1:01:24 PM

No fridgimus, most of that "area of dead" had leaves all over it within a few weeks of the first flood. And people all over the basin can show you places that haven't had a flood for 60 years and still have healthy red gums all over them. Worse still, many of the places that need a more regular drink can be more efficiently watered by pumping into bunded paddocks. That technology has only been around for 6 millenia but the green parasites insist on doing a worse job with highly inefficient flood flows.
fridgimus
12/10/2012 4:27:48 AM

Jeez, I must be losing the plot then. The things I see everyday aren't actually real according to a bloke sitting behind a keyboard a couple of thousand K's away. Tell me how you would 1. fund the pumping and associated earth works associated with environmental watering hundreds of wetlands year after year and 2. then deal with the resulting high salinity and low dissolved oxygen levels from that water re entering the system, considering the cumulative effects on downstream users when e-watering on such a broad scale?
andyofSA
12/10/2012 8:15:32 AM

Frigimus dont put too much creedence into Mr Motts comments.he seems to gather his "evidence" from very obscure sources and is completely bias in his views towards the Eastern states interests only ! He seems to have a problem recognising what a fair and unbias outcome in this issue would constitute . His state govt and Vic continued to over allocate the system for 40 years after SA capped its usage of Murray water and now they dont want to do the right thing in returning enough water to keep the lower Murray heathy. Disregard his propaganda for what it is....tripe !!!
Ian Mott
12/10/2012 7:43:31 PM

The clown who wants to spend $6 billion to put whole districts and towns out of business now claims the cost of pumping much less water in a controlled manner is too prohibitive. And as for Andy, he still can't get it through his tiny brain that a dry river in a drought is just as ecologically "healthy" as a full river in flood. They are both normal elements of an ecosystem but the South Australians are now claiming all the extra runoff from upstream clearing belongs to them. Onyabike, bum.
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