Stone the Crows - wasting MY water!

By The General on May 10, 2017

The Boss had a poke around the Coorong, near the mouth of the Murray, last week and forgot to take me.

He wanted to take a look at what the South Australians are doing with all our water going down the Goulburn for not much purpose - around 60GL went down in March (worth something like $3m on the temporary water market) when the banks didn't need it for a drink. 

The Coorong is a wold-famous wetland and it is apparently dying. A lot of environmentalists and supporters of the Murray Darling Basin Plan have suggested its because of reduced water flows down the Murray River.

But it turns out the state of the Coorong has very little to do with Murray River flows, if anything. The locals showed the Boss how far the fresh water from the Murray gets up the Coorong - about a third of the way along the lower Coorong - and has no chance of ever reaching the upper Coorong.


In fact, the Coorong is suffering mainly because of the huge drainage scheme in south-east South Australia, created to allow agriculture in the low flat country between the Victorian border and the lower lakes.

The Boss was shown the charts of the huge drains cutting straight across the natural drainage lines into the upper Coorong; these massive drains can pump 400GL out to sea in an average year. And he found a book written in South Australia way back in the 1970s, pointing this out and blaming the Coorong's troubles on the drainage scheme.

The South Australians also built these artificial barrages across the Murray mouth back in the 1930s so they could keep fresh water in the vast lower lakes. A lot of farms and towns depended on it then but the water has gone salty, partly from the river and partly from sea-water leeching through and over the barrages.

All the towns along the lakes - and all the vineyards at Langhorne Creek - now take fresh water from further up the Murray and just handful of farms use the lake water.

But the bloke on the tour boat told The Boss the lakes evaporate a metre of water a year - equivalent to 850GL, he said. (The entire city of Melbourne uses around 480GL a year - so the Boss was hot under the collar about this, I could tell.)

The other argument the South Australians use is that they need Murray River flows to keep the mouth open but the Boss says this is ridiculous - they just need to build a rock entrance and keep it dredged, like they do at Lakes Entrance and at all the estuaries right up the NSW coast.

When the Boss and his mates were coming back from the Coorong through the barrage lock into Goolwa, the lock master was asked why South Australia needs all this extra fresh water from Victoria.

"If we don't use it this year, we won't get it next year," he said, laughing.

It was the most honest argument the Boss had heard all day.

By The General on May 10, 2017
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