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Murray-Darling Basin: water theft « Previous | |Next »
June 26, 2009

Miles Kemp in the The Advertiser reports that the state governments of Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland are turning a blind eye to water theft and manipulation of irrigation rules to protect their irrigators in the Murray-Darling Basin. That is what the water politics is about----protecting irrigators at all costs.

Kemp outlines how the various ways by which water is being stolen by irrigators across the Murray-Darling Basin; ways that indicate the indifference of the irrigators to the health of the River Murray. These include:

Tampering with water meters to stop them recording water use.

Frequent breaching of water use caps without prosecution.

Inadequate policing of water theft.

Earthworks which divert floodwaters, bypassing water metering.

Recapturing downstream of water destined for environmental flows.

Poor control of groundwater use.

The most significant regulatory issue was that legislation needed to be reviewed and updated to control water harvesting from flood plains and multiple channels. Flood-plain "harvesting" and its diversion to storages in Queensland and parts of northern NSW was extensive, and once the water gets out on the flood plain state governments have no idea how much there is or what is being taken. Nor do they care, it seems.

Adelaide has a water problem, and it desperately needs to cut its reliance on River Murray water for its critical human needs. Hence the belated turn to a desalination plant, near the now disused Port Stanvac refinery. The refinery will be dismantled by Mobil.

That still leaves the slow drying out of both Lake Alexandrina and Lake Albert because no water is coming down the River Murray. The pumping of water from Alexandrina to Albert, which has kept the latter going as a lake, will soon stop. The effect is that the Lake Albert will dry out during the summer. Lake Alexandrina will follow.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 1:45 PM | | Comments (4)


Yep, not surprised and it all needs saying, well should have been said years ago.
Good to bring it to our attention.
Little bit of the pot and kettle stuff from the Advertiser tho'. How many water prosecutions of irrigators along the Murray in SA have there been?

Sad isn't it?

I don't believe any of them, state or federal govts, ever had any intention of doing what needs to be done. They'd rather wait until it rains or the situation gets so drastic they're forced to act and can claim some kind of heroic status.

Until the death of river systems start having an impact on voters in swinging seats that matter, nothing will happen.

Cynical, yes, but so is politics.

Warren Truss, The Leader of the Nationals, href=",25197,25623733-5013169,00.html">says that the buyback of water allocations approach:

"is all about placating deep green inner-city voters who think the world can survive on organic vegies grown in backyards and that farmers are environmental vandals, stealing water that would otherwise be flowing into the sea".

Truss says that the government should be spending money on farm and irrigation modernisation, cutting water waste.

If there is one thing that gets up my nose it is the notion that water actually doing what is natural, eg running into a marsh, filling up a lake, being used by vegetation, flowing down a river even evaporating from a natural environmental surface or flowing into the sea, is "waste".
Just cos some [.....] can't make money out of it.