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spinning ecological devastation: Lake Alexandrina « Previous | |Next »
August 7, 2008

The Rann Government is spinning like crazy about the Murray River, which is dying from decades of mis-mangement by state governments. This week at local meetings this week on the shore of Lake Albert Karlene Maywald the SA Minister for Water, described the future of the Lakes in five years by saying that in her judgement they would be:

Hopefully improved, with lovely fresh water and looking absolutely pristine. It's my view that we will see a recovery and if we can get a fresh-water solution now, we will see a fresh-water system in years to come.

Now that will only happen if the overallocations are reduced and more water is restored to the river in the form of environmental flows. And that is not likely to happen within the next decade, despite Maywald talking in terms of adequate winter rains next year and freshwater solutions. Maywald is dreaming at a time when the tipping point in this region is about to be reached in June 2009 and the locals are protesting about the state of the river.

Milangyatch.jpg Gary Sauer-Thompson, at Milang, 2008

On the ground water is currently being pumped from Lake Alexandrina to Lake Albert to prevent it from drying out, but that option is only buying time. The options being discussed are pumping Corrong saltwater to Lake Albert through a channel and to build a weir at Wellington and introduce sea water through the Goolwa barrages.

The latter is the most realistic long-term solution. It is inevitable. The significance of the weir (in preparation) is that it will wall off the acidifying expanses of Lakes Alexandrina and Albert and the Coorong "wetlands" in order to safeguard the city of Adelaide's drinking water.

The weir could be so managed to allow river flows into the lower lakes, if and when, there is a reduction in the over-allocations of water licences in the Murray-Darling Basin. Will it? The increase in environmental flows is not happening in any significant way, as it is being resisted by the other states by a variety of devices.

So those local irrigators (mostly dairy farmers) who rely on fresh water from the Lakes will leave the land. The bigger irrigators (eg., the wineries) will be able to access fresh water from above the Wellington weir through a new pipeline that is currently being built.

We locals can counter the spin from the Rann Government by some placeblogging based on participating in the digital media to pressure the need for greater government transparency on this issue. This is made possible by the rapidly declining costs of information storage and retrieval, and the expanding powers of citizens to record, share and analyze raw information about the workings of our government on the River Murray.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 11:24 AM | | Comments (4)


In July 2005, Lake Alexandrina contained 1600 gigalitres of water. Now, it holds just 940Gl. Adjoining Lake Albert, at 100Gl, is down from 280Gl three years ago.

Both lakes have dropped below sea level behind a series of barrages constructed in the 1930s. Currently, the level of Lake Albert is 0.3 of a metre below sealevel and requires water piped from Lake Alexandrina, which is at -0.4m.

Victoria is doing everything it can to protect irrigators in the state.That is why it is blocking water trading by imposing big limits on what can be traded out of the state. It's their water!

And the Commonwealth goes along with this at CoAG. They are very passive.

I read in The Australian that the DarlingRiver has stopped flowing and has been reduced to a series of interlinked pools. About 40% of the Barwon-Darling flow is taken out for irrigation.

Across the Murray Darling Basin around 56% of available flow is being taken out for irrigation ---that is a very high level of development. No wonder there is little river flow.