Credit when credit is due. South Australia have their cake and they can eat it too. Sorry for the clichés, but I am not sure how else to describe the current situation, where SA have failed to act on directions from the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder. They have very cleverly manipulated the system to their advantage and have come up the winner.
So let’s just run through the evidence that we have.
Late 1800’s to early 1900’s SA divert water from South East South Australia away from the Coorong and out to sea by building drains. This converted wetlands and swamps into prime agricultural land.
1935 – 1940’s the barrages where installed turning the Lower Lakes from an estuarine system reliant on tidal flows into a fresh water system, which still have to be manually operated; suggestions of automation from other states are even rejected.
1960’s SA protest the building of the Dartmouth dam and to secure the deal SA are provided with a guaranteed minimum volume to be delivered over the border each year regardless of what the other states have access to. That is, they are allocated water before anyone else.
FACT: The Murray River did not run dry in the millennium drought, despite the fact that before Hume dam was built it ran dry four times in four decades.
Water reform late 1990’s and early 2000’s: Water reform results in water returned to the environment from productive use, which eventually finds its way to SA. A cap on extraction was put in place, ie a limit to how much water could be removed from the river systems.
The Murray Darling Basin Plan: SA demand water reform that will result in upstream communities being decimated socially and economically. It will result in volumes of water that will potentially flood out private land, is causing river bank erosion and slumping. It has resulted in the distortion of the water market and allocation system reducing production in valuable agricultural communities and overwatering of some upstream regions.
FACT: Water does not run up hill (without a pump!) yet we are forcing so much water down the Murray that it is flowing uphill into the Coorong.
Why? To maintain an artificial “environment” created by South Australia as freshwater – the Coorong, Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth.
Yet when asked to deliver water for environmental reasons to their artificial environment SA defer / carry it over for human use and irrigation, despite the fact that NSW Murray was on an allocation of 23% and the people on the Lower Darling had run out of water. Despite the fact that upstream communities are being disadvantaged to maintain an artificial environment.
FACT: NSW Murray currently on 29% allocation, South Australia 100% and have been for several weeks.
FACT: It is the Murray River NOT the River Murray.
In conclusion, you have to give them credit, they have out played us in horse trading and political deals. They have the cake and they are living like kings!