Posted by: jkirkby8712 | May 26, 2011

Wednesday, 25 May 2011 – the problem with water and it’s use!!

The cold wintry spell continued today – periods of rain mixed with the occasional bout of sunshine but with it all, that chill to the air, Even so, I braved a brisk walk in that air after I returned home this evening

More literature from the ‘Get Up’ organisation today, with their latest campaign related to the Murray-Darling Basin.  To illustrate the significance of this region of Australia, it is an area which covers much of New South Wales and parts of southern Queensland, Victoria and into South Australia, and an important agricultural region which produces one third of Australia’s food supply, and supports over a third of Australia’s total gross value of agricultural production. Obviously then, a rather significant part of the continent! . For years now, governments, scientists and environmentalists have been arguing over the best ways to utilise the water flows etc in the Basin  The Murray-Darling Basin covers 1,061,469 square kilometres or approximately one-seventh (14%) of the total area of Australia (7,692,024 square kilometres).  It contains over 40% of all Australian farms, which produce wool, cotton, wheat, sheep, cattle, dairy produce, rice, oil-seed, wine, fruit and vegetables for both domestic and overseas markets. In addition to the ‘food basket’ aspect,  it has an important place in the cultural heritage of all Australians and includes many significant natural heritage features.   Certainly, the Basin’s most valuable resource is water, and most of it comes from a very small percentage of the Basin area  –  mainly along the southern and eastern rim, with almost 86% of the vast ‘catchment’ area contributes very little or no regular run-off to rivers. The three longest rivers in Australia all run through the Murray-Darling Basin, and provide much of this flow, which dried up severely during the decade of drought just past.  These three rivers are the Darling River [2,740 kms], the Murray River [2,520 kms, represents the major part of the border between Victoria and New South Wales] and the Murrumbidgee River [1,575 kms].

Now the current debate, according to Get Up again demonstrates a certain reluctance it seems, for authorities to recognise the value of science.  I can’t really comment on the right or wrong of the following, but according to this pro-active pressure group [who have over recent months achieved some significant gains through their public campaigns],  the most recent plans of the Murray Darling Basin Authority have resulted in key scientists walking away from the process in protest! I’ll let the organisation explain further.

‘Right now the Murray Darling Basin Authority is in the final stages of recommending how to deal with the water crisis in the Murray Darling. But shockingly, scientists tell us that the Authority is preparing to announce environmental water flows so low they won’t save our nation’s food bowl. Worse still, the Authority has cancelled all independent scientific review of the Government’s Murray Darling plan in an attempt to cover up its lack of environmental credibility.

The Wentworth Group of Scientists have just resigned from the process in protest1 – but they need public support. That’s where GetUp members can make a difference. In a few weeks the Basin Authority will announce its plan. Let’s create a huge public petition to the Environment Minister, Tony Burke, demanding that the Government bring back scientific review before it’s too late:

The Murray Darling Basin has been sucked dry by decades of over extraction. Despite recent rain and floods the Murray Darling Basin is on the brink of ecosystem collapse. Already over 90% of the floodplain wetlands have been destroyed along with native fish and bird populations.

Without a basis in science the basin plan could lock in the death of over a quarter of the iconic river red gums on the Murray. This would spell disaster for the internationally recognised wetlands on the river.

Scientists and sustainable famers can’t fix this situation alone. Their voices are being ignored. But if we all join with them, we can’t be ignored so easily. Sign this petition to call on Environment Minister Tony Burke to bring back the science. We can’t let the opportunity to save our most precious waterways be wasted by bureaucrats wanting to take the easy option and ignore the science under pressure from the heavy irrigators. Please join the petition to help back up the scientists’.

Murray-Darling Basin Map

The following was the statement provided to GetUp by the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists

In October 2010 the Murray Darling-Basin Authority (MDBA) in its Guide to the Proposed Basin Plan stated that reducing water diversions in the Murray-Darling Basin by 3,856 gigalitres would give a “high uncertainty” of achieving the objectives of the Water Act 2007 and 6,983 gigalitres would give a “low uncertainty”. These numbers represented the culmination of decades of research carried out across the Basin and broadly aligned with the findings of scientists across the Basin. This work was internationally peer reviewed.
The MDBA is now proposing a startling new volume to achieve the objectives of the Water Act. It is 1,000 gigalitres below what had previously been the “high uncertainty” value. Is this really possible?
This is a huge drop in such a short period of time. It is unclear what new knowledge could make this possible. It is puzzling that such a significant piece of knowledge was not identified in the two years of work that was undertaken by the Authority in the development of the Guide or over the past decades by scientists working across the Basin. Independent review is critical to good science. In the case of such a dramatic change independent review is essential. A robust independent review is not happening.   The Federal Government is spending over $8.9 billion on water reform. The Australian taxpayer must know what they are getting for their money and that they are going to get a healthy working river system for $8.9 billion.
No government should spend $8.9 billion based on mere opinion’.

A change of pace – the French Open Tennis championship began this week, and after the first couple of days, we have ‘no’ Australian men in the competition, and just two women to wave the flag!!! In fact both girls tonight have won their way into the 3rd round of the Women’s Singles.  Sam Stosur defeated Simona Halep 6/0,6/2, while Anastasia Rodionova defeated Edina Gallovits-Hall 6/1,6/4. Our only male competitor, Bernard Tomic [the youngest male in the tournament] lost his first round match at the beginning of the week, and with Leyton Hewitt having pulled out with an injury before the tournament started, Tomic had been our only hope in the Men’s division!!  So once again, Australia depends on our girls.  Both Sam and Anastasia performed well in this tournament last year, with of course Sam being the runner-up in the Final. She is hoping to go one better this year!

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: