Sunday, 24 October 2010

Exactly how many coastal rivers systems would Senator Xenophon like to lay waste?

South Australians Senator Nick Xenophon and Family First Legislative Council Member Robert Brokenshire are calling for the Gillard Government and Federal Parliament to look at damming and diverting the Clarence River across the Great Divide and into the Murray Darling river systems.

Xenophon appears to believe that the total volume of additional annual environmental flow (which the Murray Darling Basin Authority has identified as being required to stop the Basin rivers and wetlands irreversibly failing) can be found through interbasin water transfer.

Brokenshire envisions water diversion on a similar scale to the Snowy Mountains Scheme which ruined the iconic Snowy River.

Both men clearly have the Clarence River in their sights.

In 2004 a South Australian state government water diversion investigation decided on the basis very limited data that the average annual discharge for the Clarence River system is 3,700,000 ML/year and the 2007 SMEC desktop study gave a very optimistic top annual freshwater figure of 100,000 ML/year allegedly available for diversion [,March 2004,"Water Proofing Adelaide: Large Scale Water Supply Schemes",information sheet,pp.3-4 and Australian Parliament,Senate 2007,RRAT Committee, Inquiry into Options for additional water supplies for South East Queensland,Report].

While according to The Clarence Environment Centre; the Lilydale gauge readings (which provide the most accurate flow figures available) indicate that water discharge into the sea is less than two million megalitres per year on average [Submission No. 214,May 2007].

Senator Xenophon mentions a water volume of 4,000 GL/year as the diversion level required to ‘save’ the Murray Darling Basin:

Going in to bat for farmers in the basin, he said diverting 4000 gigalitres annually into the river system would alleviate the need for irrigation cuts and secure environmental flows.

Now 4,000 gigalitres is 4,000,000 megalitres – so at first glance Xenophon is either supporting future zero flow in the Clarence River and its inevitable death or he has more than one coastal catchment in mind.

So how many rivers would Senator Xenophon like to lay waste in order to satisfy the greed of Murray Darling Basin irrigators?



Anonymous Sue said...

Next thing you know Xenophon will tell you to build barrages on your river so you can hang on to all that fresh water and send it down the Murray. Watch out. Our Lower Lakes should be like your Clarence River Estuary, except the barrages keep the Lower Lakes artificially fresh during times of low river flow causing a lot of environmental dammage. Check out this community website and the fight to restore the estuary to the River Murray.

25 October 2010 at 12:59 pm  

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