Water Week

EWN Publishing

April 2008 Murray system disaster forecast; tree deaths, massive fish deaths, as water falls below the intake-pipes

Posted by waterweek on 21 September 2007

Water-levels below Lock 1 were projected to fall from their current level of 0.25m Australian Height Datum (AHD), to negative 0.6m AHD in April 2008. Under these projected conditions, massive fish death in the Lower Lakes is more likely. For the worst case scenario, water levels will continue to fall, reaching negative 1.5m AHD in the latter half of 2008. Salinity would rise and make what small irrigation water which was available, poisonous to crops and trees.

MDB levels

Crop trees start to die: According to the Murray-Darling Basin Dry Inflow Contingency Planning Overview Report to First Ministers, September 2007. “The death of some permanent plantings has already occurred in the southern MDB. There is a significant risk that allocations will be insufficient to avoid further widespread permanent plant losses across the Murray System”.

Vines, nut and orange-trees to wither away: “Grape growing is the most prevalent horticulture in the Murray, followed by citrus, stone fruit and other fruit and tree nut growing. Productivity of some crops such as citrus could also be significantly impacted by salinity in 2008.

Farmers to weep in the paddocks: “Horticulturalists will take production decisions, such as crop thinning, pruning or prioritising water use, in early spring to either optimise the productive capacity for available water or ensure that water demand is reduced. These production decisions could significantly reduce the loss of permanent plantings, although there could be productivity impacts in subsequent years.

Price of milk and grain to rise: “The impact of critically low water availability is also being experienced by other water dependent agricultural sectors, including the dairy industry, vegetable growers and annual grain and fodder cropping including the rice industry.

Water forecasts vital: “Water users will need to receive timely and accurate forecasts of water allocations from water authorities over coming months so that they can make key management decisions. To ensure that information is available for this purpose, governments will continue to work closely with industry associations and stakeholder groups” said the Murray-Darling Basin Dry Inflow Contingency Planning Overview Report to First Ministers, September 2007, released by the Prime Minister, 20 September.

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