A long time agricultural friend suggested I would be interested in the “River on the Brink” Exhibition on display at the SH Ervin Gallery in Sydney. I visited it yesterday. To say the least I was horrified! Not so much by the depictions of the condition of the Darling River, which is bad enough, but more by the not uncommon promotion of the blame factor.
On arrival you are confronted by the following notice-
“Gross mismanagement, greed,” and only one passing reference to “drought”. The whole impression throughout the exhibition is that this is a man-made problem.I believe it can be argued that if there was no irrigation on the Darling and all of its tributaries the river condition would be exactly the same. In the upper Darling and its catchment we are witnessing one of the worst droughts in recorded history. All man can do is pray for rain!
One thought on “The Problem of the Counter Intuitive-Water”
Your recent Blog “The Problem of the Counter Intuitive-Water” raises some interesting points. Looking at these issues through factual data and common sense, rather than emotional outbursts based on contrived fiction, we could draw a different conclusion to those espoused by Basin critics.
Firstly, drought may possibly be the prime cause, rather than a by-product of Basin history.
NSW DPI notes that the current drought, which began in NSW in mid-2017 (two years ago), is equivalent to previous major drought events such as the Federation Drought (1895-1903), the World War 11 Drought (1937-1945) and the Millenium Drought (2001-2010).
Secondly, the suggested solution of simply releasing water held is storage to bring life back into the Basin, is simply not feasible nor practical.
As pointed out by the Bureau of Meteorology in its annual climate update, storage levels in the northern Murray-Darling Basin had dropped to less than 7% full by the end of June 2019, lower than any point during the Millennium Drought.
It also noted a widespread declines in groundwater levels. Annual peak groundwater levels in 83% of assessed bores in the Murray-Darling Basin were below average and, in 20% of bores, levels were the lowest on record, and below the levels at the end of the Millennium Drought.
Further, the BOM observed that streamflow was very much below average in the northern Basin, including lowest on record for the past 40 years at 43 per cent of locations.
This leads to the conclusion that if there is no water available in storage, as groundwater, or as streamflow, and none forecast, only a replenishment to supplies from those four sources will solve the problem.
Pipedream demands for Government action and Royal Commissions certainly will not.
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