The Boss's Dog

Campers and bee-eaters no match for the Plan

By The General

"Is this the new reality, General?" The Boss asked me the other day.

He's very, very grumpy about the damage being done to the river - and those who frequent it -  by these constant high flows.

As soon as the "environmental flows" stop, the 'inter-valley transfers" start. 

It's happened every month since August. Reasonable spring flows are a natural occurrence, he says.

What is NOT natural is high summer flows, The Boss says it's been getting worse over the last five years, in particular.

He found this table which shows what's been happening with increasing IVTs along the Goulburn to the Murray over the past six years - the figures are in billions of litres (GL)::

It looks like this current season will be far more damaging still. The Boss reckons a mixture of e-flows and IVTs started in August, again in September-October, with around 110 GL delivered to the Murray from the Goulburn, Campaspe and Broken Creeks - most of it along the Goulburn.

The Murray Darling mob say they expect to send another 240 GL down our river between November and May, making around 350 GL without July and June in the picture. The view of some people at the Catchment Management Authority is that around 190 GL is the maximum the river can safely handle in a year with these consistent flows - as compared when you get a mighty flood in the middle of winter or early spring, which goes up and down quickly, gives the floodplain a good drink and drops back to normal levels.

The CMA sent out a press release in December reminding everybody that the recommended flow in summer is somewhere between 500-800 megaliths a day on the lower Goulburn, instead of the 2000-3000 ML we're now copping every day. It covers the sandbars that locals have enjoyed on their summer camping holidays for generations. Gone.

And while the locals have been coming for generations, the rainbow bee-eaters have been visiting the lower Goulburn for thousands of years, making the long journey down from the Gulf country to dig their nesting holes in the clay banks of the Goulburn to breed. 

Last week, on our morning walk, the Boss pointed to a forlorn-looking bee-eater gazing at the place where her nest was the day before. But then the water came up overnight and flooded it. The Boss had been watching her coming and going and was certain there were eggs in the burrow, if not hatchlings. The bee-eater, instinctively accustomed to the benign natural summer flows, failed to pay attention to the Murray Darling Plan. Woof!