The Boss and I have been banging on about this for a while, I know, but it's a big issue for those of us who live in this part of the world.
Back in early April I barked about the damage the high river was doing to the lower banks (Killing [My River] Softly) after nine weeks of high flows.
Well, it went on. And on. And on. For another eight weeks: 17 weeks of high river before it returned to the traditional summer level. Which, when it happens, looks like this:
The Boss has been checking with blokes from down Murchison way who have lived on the river all their lives and they can't remember anything like the high volumes of summer water now being deliberately sent down the river.
The Boss says it is water headed for the Murray as inter-valley transfers - that is, water that has been "traded out" or sold by irrigators in our area to irrigators and agencies further downstream.
The trouble is, it comes on top of the increasing "environmental water" flows demanded by the Murray Darling Plan, which basically keep the banks wet in winter, spring and early summer. The last e-flow was in mid-December - and the inter-valley transfers started in earnest in late January.
And now you don't....
So last week the river finally returned to normal summer level and, guess what? Yesterday they started another inter-valley transfer - of 25 billion litres - bringing the river right up again. It has started already:
If you take a look at the middle photograph, you can see the banks still wet on the other side of the river. They aren't getting time to dry out before the next artificial onslaught. And we know what happens then: big trees fall in. The Boss says this is followed by bank collapses, which deposit mud and sediment on the bed of the river, making it shallower. Because the same amount of water needs to get down (well, more and more water, in fact, with these inter-valley transfers and environmental water) it makes the river wider, eroding the banks, making it shallower, then wider, and so on.
The Boss reckons the other states and the so-called Wentworth Group of scientists don't care about the Goulburn and they are happy to sacrifice it for the sake of getting their Murray Darling Plan targets met - even though CSIRO and Melbourne University scientists are saying all the significant environmental sites along the system are showing measurable improvement.
He says you can't expect to reverse the effects of 100 years or irrigation practice in seven years. It needs time to work, time to adjust, time for the system to be fine-tuned.
If the current approach continues it is going to cause untold damage in the name of achieving environmental benefits! Who's kidding who? In the meantime, my sandbar is about to go under water. Woof!