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Waiting for the River Murray to Collapse « Previous | |Next »
February 3, 2003

In his Heritage Matters column entitled 'State drained by the lavish use of water, (no link) in The Advertiser Tim Lloyd speaks simply and plainly about the state of the River Murray.

There is no doubt about the lavish use of water in the Murray-Darling Basin as exemplified by the current practices of flood irrigated cotton and rice and pastures for cattle need to be changed. And little is being done to reduce this wastage other than enabling the market to slowly increase efficiency in water usage.

Tim says:

"When the river finally becomes unusable--to salty to drink and too toxic to enjoy--something will be done. Perhaps it won't be this year, and the perennial crisis will drag on through a few more, wetter seasons. Meanwhile we console ourselves with a growing understanding of the immensely complex ecology and poltics of river systems.

But dithering at the bottom of the river system waiting for it to collapse is not a viable option. We need to keep pushing for efficiency and environmental sustainability in the water flows that eventually come from our side of the border."

And for the first time we have a criticism of SA's conduct in the politics of the river from within South Australia. Lloyd acknowledges that SA has been a leader in efficient irrigation and is also best at recycling waste water. Tim then adds a criticism rarely heard from within South Australia:

"But SA is far from able to claim the moral high ground on water efficiency. On too many farms, orchards and vineyards water is used wastefully. Water is used by industry and homes on a lavish scale given SA's epithet as the driest state in the driest continent. Premier Mike Rann's recent promise of River Murray water for Clare Valley vineyards seems particularly ill-timed."

Does this article mean that South Australians are no longer being taken in by SA's position. SA is basically two faced about the Murray. On the one hand it draws attention to the Murray's poor health and denounces the other states for not doing enough. On the other hand, it does very little within its own borders about ensuring healthy rivers in the Eastern Mt Lofty Ranges, water recycling, reducing dependence on River Murray water by Whyalla through using solar-powered desalinisation plants and fostering new water efficient industrial processes.

It is not simply a case of good (SA) and bad (eastern states), as SA makes out under its various Lib/Lab regimes.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 6:51 AM | | Comments (2)


As a South Australian travelling last year through (the almost dry by then)Menindee Lakes I was dumbfounded to see acres of new vine trellising going in around the lakes. I'm further dumfounded to think more of this will happen in the Clare Valley in SA.
I had entertained the idea that perhaps SA could use a nuclear waste dump as a bargaining tool with the upstream states to stop their water use madness, but it seems SA is as stupid as the rest.We will all need a crisis to begin to act sensibly it seems.

taken a trip around Langhorne Creek wineries lately? Enormous expansion.

Nope SA is no different to the other states--its water for growth within the limits of the cap.

And very little is being done by SA to return water to its rivers---eg. those in the Eastern Mt Lofty Ranges that flow into the Murray or into Lake Alexandrina.

The eastern states see SA hypocrisy. And we don't like it.