Persistent low flow is the cause of Murray Mouth closures.
- [Pictures Courtesy of The Murray-Darling Basin Commission ]
FEEL FREE TO CLICK HERE AND SEE/HEAR HOW THE MURRAY'S DEMISE HAS BEEN ALLOWED TO CONTINUE UNABATED OVER THE INTERVENING YEARS.
And! While they think about it. The Murray continues to teeter on the brink of extinction
the Murray Mouth lurches ever onward towards permanent closure, which it is currently
doing part-time, as it did in 1982 and numerously threatened to do so throughout
1995-96. - It is simply a matter of time before it
closes full-time. - When that does happen, and it will, and it
is only a matter of time,
the Coorong will be a stagnant saline backwater devoid of marine life.
- It is ENTIRELY due to the unsustainable volume of water, which humans continue to bleed from the Murray/Darling system, each and every year.
If humans were to loose a similar percentage of our body's blood supply. We would be a long time dead.
It is an astonishing inditement on the Human race that we, the only creatures on this planet who are naive enough to believe that we posses intelligence. Cannot learn from past mistakes and recognise the long-term disruption to our community, plus the devastating costs we will inevitably incur, when we 'bleed' a major river system to death.
The 'Yanks' tried it on the
Colorado River and now have a mammoth environmental problem on their
hands. That's right! The
Colorado River, the one that carved out the world renown, Grand
one that, 'once upon a time', had its delta at the head of Golfo de
California Mexico, where it nowadays, sometimes 'trickles'
into the sea.
- - And! What was the cause of this disaster? - Cotton! - That's right, the former USSR bled the Aral Sea's two main tributaries, the Amu Darya & the Syr Darya, to death, so they could irrigate their cotton crops. The situation was worsened by the fact that the Soviets used chemical fertilisers and DDT insect control measures that have left a cocktail of deadly toxins in the sediment of the now arid seabed. - Nowadays, prevailing winds blow across the waterless seabed whipping the sediment up into dust storms, which so contaminate the atmosphere that Tuberculosis is now endemic in the region; and theres nothing anyone can do about it. A 'TB' patient is no sooner cured than they get reinfected again from the ever-present airborne toxins. Human life expectancy in the region has dropped to around 45-years and declining. The 20-odd million people, equivalent to the entire population of Australia, living in the countries surrounding the Aral, are nowadays suffering from serious health problems. It is NOT an environment where anyone would choose to live, NOT if they wish to live past 45 years of age, that is! You wouldnt even want to drive through the region without wearing a surgical mask. You think Im kidding? Well its about time you did some catching up my friend!!! It took the Soviets only 50 years, from start to finish, to accomplish the irreversible destruction of a regions environment.
- Thankfully! In Australia, we are more cautious about using potentially harmful chemical insecticides and fertilisers. There remains, however, the continuing gluttonous over-use of the Murray water resource, plus the unwelcome side effect of irrigation, the salt problem. - Give us another 50 years and Australians too, will join that dubious club of environmental assassins who have overused a natural resource to death. All in the name of national productivity and job creation, of course, as it always is whenever greed and the environment are in conflict.
It's a hollow argument, however. The expense incurred in reducing the amount of water we currently suck out of the Murray & Darling Rivers by embarking on a, e.g. 10-to-15 year, plan to relocate 20% of the fruit growing infrastructure and 50% of the cotton growing infrastructure to either one or other of the underground freshwater sources located in Western Australia, or further north to access water from Lake Argyle, would amount to peanuts, when compared to the ultimate cost WE WILL EVENTUALLY PAY for continuing with our current misuse of Murray/Darling water. - The absurdity is, it is either RELOCATE NOW OR 'WITHER ON THE VINE'; -FOR THESE ARE THE ONLY TWO CHOICES WE GOT!! - Whether it be a planned relocation of some agricultural interests NOW! - Or an enforced relocation LATER, when the soils and rivers are so polluted, they will no longer sustain anything like the current level of agriculture.
Reduce the quantity of water we suck out of the river systen NOW!
The nearsighted cotton growers, of course, argue that they only take "floodwater" from the Darling, which would otherwise "go to waste". Which only underscores their blinkered, self-serving vision. For it is that very "floodwater", "going to waste" as they put it, that creates the essential "flushing" mechanism, which washes huge quantities of salt and other pollutants out of the Murray/Darling system. While at the same time reinvigorating the freshwater lagoons and backwaters, which are so essential for the general health of the flora, fauna and of the entire river system.
In South Australia today there are still a few elderly Riverland residents who remember when, as teenagers, they could stand up to their waist in the River Murray and still see their feet on the bottom. By comparison today, if you dip your arm up to the wrist into the same river, you cannot see the tips of your fingers because the water is so muddied. And that's only the visible pollution! Dissolved pollutants can not be seen with the naked eye, as in seawater, where you cannot see the salt, but you damn well know it's there when you taste it. === Nowadays I would hesitate to taste Murray River water.
The cotton growers are, of course, not the only vandals of this water resource. They are merely the most recent arrivals. - Also the Darling floods are traditionally the "muddiest" of all, due to the terrain through which they flow and there's precious little we humans can do about that. - What the river really needs is more of the clean water from the snowmelt off the NSW and Victorian highlands. And! that will ONLY come about by a REDUCTION in the quantity of water currently bled-off for irrigation and township supply. Irrigators on the River Murray have traditionally used demonstrably excessive amounts of water to irrigate their crops. And Yes! There are at the present research programs going-on in most of the Murray's irrigation districts aimed at improving the efficient use of irrigation water and thereby reduce the total usage. We Hope!!!! --- But these efforts are not nearly progressing fast enough to counter, much-less turn-back, the mounting depravation being committed on the river NOW!
As for the townships. Country residents generally are a
fairly rainwater conscious bunch of people and
river-community dwellers are no exception. Saving there
are likely to be marginal in the short term at-least.
Nevertheless, on this "the
driest continent on the planet".
A "Smart Australia" OUGHT to be "leading
the world" with innovative "best
practices" for sustainable
living in a semi-arid environment, and we are NOT!!! Yet
every Australian citizen, who is capable of pondering
this problem, KNOWS!!! We all ought to be making much
better use of domestic rainwater storage and reticulation
systems. We also know that modern biodegradable toilet systems provide a much more
water-efficient means of hygienic human waste disposal,
than our current water-guzzling flush toilets. These
options, though there can be no-argument about their
water conservation advantages, would, however, require a
significant shift in social attitudes to implement. -
Nevertheless, in country communities there is scope for
substantial saving in water used in effluent disposal,
and there is enormous scope for saving mains water used
in city areas.
- As for
'updating' social attitudes! --- Currently all of us are, one way or
another, PAYING DOLLARS for
the water-wasting lifestyle we lead. The
quickest and best way to change that is to provide a
clear and obvious dollar saving approach to a water-conserving alternative.
-- The current "water
rates" system is difficult to comprehend and fails to
provide any obvious incentive to conserve water. Whereas, although politically unpopular, a "National
Conservation Tax on Mains Water"
will achieve it. A National Mains Water "Pay
for what you Use" scheme, which clearly shows how you can save
money by using less Mains Water, would be the quickest and surest way
of changing social attitudes. The object being, NOT to raise more TAX
dollars, but to reduce water wastage for
the Greater Good of the nation:
- Obviously ALL political parties would have to support
such a proposal. - Historically, however, political bipartisan
agreement in Australia, on matters other than parliamentarian's salaries,
is woeful! - Politicians will still be arguing over this water
conservation issue in
2050; and the Murray
will be dead by then!!!!
At-least they can't stop us dreaming!
The reality is, there will
continue to be much, much too much, political
procrastination about this topic:
Text © Peter J Reilly
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"SAVE OUR RIVER" Web-sites:
Murray-Darling Basin Plan - Murray-Darling Basin Authority.
IT HAS ALREADY HAPPENED TO THE COLORADO, AS WELL AS OTHER RIVERS AROUND THE WORLD:
See what they have done to the Colorado River - Salton Basin-Colorado Delta Mother-site.
Historic, pollution & reclamation re the Salton Sea - The Salton Sea information page.
Colorado River Board's 4.4 Plan - Californians use of it's Colorado River Allocation.
Research, History and Reports re The Western Colorado - Colorado State University.
THE "ARAL SEA" DUSTBOWL:
Aral, the dying sea - UniMaps.com
Aral Sea - WikipediA, The Free Encyclopedia.
USGS Landsat Project - U.S. Department of Interior.
"ORD RIVER PROJECT" SITES:
Ord - East Kimberly expansion Project. -
Department of State Development [W.A.].
Developer Profile: Jim Hughes, Ord River Area -
Australian NEW CROPS Newsletter.
Kimberly Economic Perspective. -
Kimberly Development Commission.
The good, the bad & the genetically modified. -
Cotton makes a comeback in the Ord River.
Ord River Irrigation Scheme. -
Travelling Australia Fact Sheet.
"GREEN" LIVING WEB-SITES:
Australian Greenhouse Office - Department of Climate Change.
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