Water Week

EWN Publishing

If there is no significant rain by the end of this month, there is a 75 per cent chance Murray Darling a dust bowl in 2008

Posted by waterweek on 8 October 2007

According to Selina Mitchell, of The Australian, (6/10/2007), p. 4 the head of the Murray Darling Commission, Wendy Craik had saud “if there is no significant rain by the end of this month, there was a 75 per cent chance the amount of water available for use next year will be even less than the level this year. Serious consequences: Dr Craik said there had never been such a persistent combination of low rainfall, high tempera­tures, strong winds and dwindling storage levels. “Unless there is heavy rain over the next few months there will be serious consequences for human users and for the environment,” she told The Weekend Australian.

FGirst time in the meteorological record; “This is the first time in the meteorological record dating from 1900 that;

• an El Nino drought in the Murray-Darling Basin;

• has not been followed by at least one three-month period with above normal rainfall by the end of the following winter.

Dust bowl towns may die: ” Irrigation communities were set up along the Murray in the second half of last century, when it was wetter than average. “If we are seeing a different, drier regime of inflows, then this is a whole new ball game,” Dr Craik said.

Everything going to pot:” According to long-term averages, about 4200 gigalitres of water is used by towns, industries and farmers on the Murray each year. Last year diversions reached 2500GL and this year they are likely to be even lower. The lack of water has led to low or zero irrigation allocations this season, and predictions of food shortages and increased prices. Dr Craik said the lack of water had reached crisis point for the environment. “There is a con­cern that even the refuges set aside for species are under threat,” she said. Monthly inflows into the Murray-Darling system have been significantly below average for the past 24 months. At the end of September the volume of water in the basin was 2130GL (23 per cent), the lowest in 50 years for this time of year”.

The Australian, 6/10/2007, p. 4

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