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Turnbull plays different tunes on Chaffey upgrade grant issue – calls fed grant for Chaffey upgrade ‘contingent’ in parliament but changes tune to ‘all clear’ after angry response from local electorate

Posted by waterweek on 11 October 2007

According to Lenore Taylor, in The Australian Financial Review, (26/09/2007, p.11), the federal government appeared to be saying one thing in Canberra about its tough stance on protecting the Murray Darling and another to voters in the NSW electorate of New England over the issue of federal grant for work to increase the capacity of the Chaffey Dam near Tamworth, where the Nationals were seeking to win back from long-serving independent Tony Windsor. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in australia, Energy, Environmental Flows, Murray Darling Basin, nsw, water, Water Week Vol 0414 | Leave a Comment »

Rising sea levels in Asia poses big future-challenge for Aus: mass migration of enviro refugees

Posted by waterweek on 8 October 2007

Rising sea levels posed far wider challenges to regional security than the survival of small island states in the Western Pacific, wrote Bryan Furnass in The Canberra Times (3/10/2007, p.13). Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Environmental Flows, water, Water Week Vol 0414 | Leave a Comment »

NSW state government needs to reject Korean Coal’s longwall coalmining proposal, which could destroy water table in Wyong River area, says Federal MP

Posted by waterweek on 8 October 2007

Issues affecting the area of Dobell on the Central Coast related to the failure of state Labor governments, and in particular their planning, Liberal Party MP for Dobell Ken Ticehurst said in the Commonwealth House of Representatives on 20 September 2007. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Environmental Flows, nsw, water, Water Week Vol 0414 | Leave a Comment »

The Independent Member for Gippsland East, Craig Ingram, blames Vic nationals for plot to cut environmental flows to the Snowy River

Posted by waterweek on 5 October 2007

The Independent Member for Gippsland East, Craig Ingram, has written to the Federal Member for Gippsland, Peter McGauran, seeking a guarantee that the federal takeover of water will not affect pre-existing commitments on returning environmental flows to the Snowy River.

“Disingenuous political opportunism”: “The state National Party is again showing double standards and disingenuous political opportunism on the Snowy flows issue, a cause which they have shown very little real commitment or support. “While I support recent comments by the state National Party leader that pre-existing commitments to the already stressed Snowy and Murray rivers should come before new projects, the Nationals have actually done everything in their power to stop water projects to the Snowy.

Those “two-timing Nats”: “In almost the same breath as calling for the protection of Snowy flows, the two-timing Nats are demanding that Victoria signs up to the Federal Water Plan, which is the biggest threat to the State Government meeting its commitments to the Snowy environmental flows.
This follows the Federal Government’s push through the Parliament of its new water bill which hands the commonwealth the power to takeover parts of the management of water in the Murray Darling basin. Ingram says the federal plan is the latest and most significant threat to ensuring that the three governments’ commitments on water savings for the Snowy River can be delivered”.
Telephone: (03) 5152 3491 Fax: (03) 5152 2023 Email: craig.ingram@parliament.vic.gov.au http://www.craigingram.com

Posted in Allocations, Drought, Environmental Flows | Leave a Comment »

1000 Melbourne trees die of thirst during last three years; tree expert calls for Melbourne-wide “adopt-a-tree” scheme to supply it with grey water, amidst growing public concern

Posted by waterweek on 4 October 2007

According to Rachel Kleinman and Andra Jackson, in The Age, (25/09/2007, p.5), tree expert Dr Greg Moore had called for a Melbourne-wide “adopt-a-tree” scheme, similar to that introduced by Moonee Valley City Council in January. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in australia, Energy, Environmental Flows, water, Water Week Vol 0413 | Leave a Comment »

Armageddon divvy-up for 2008-09: South East Australia emergency water plans

Posted by waterweek on 4 October 2007

The May Armageddon plan agreed by Ministers was now in full swing. The details of the plan appear in the Murray-Darling Basin Dry Inflow Contingency Planning Overview Report to First Ministers, May 2007. Matters to be considered in establishing a reserve for 2008-09 include;

• whether there should be a system wide reserve or reserves built up by individuals and towns;

• at what magnitude allocations should be before water starts to be allocated to reserves;

• the timing of a reserve to ensure critical water supplies can be delivered in 2008-09, and

• the issue of carryover and how it will be treated in the reserve.

State water sharing agreements: Assuming that

• 333 GL of water is required to meet losses in South Australia and
• 695 GL to meet losses upstream of the South Australian border during the 2007-08
season, the Senior Officials’ Group recommends that First Ministers:

1. NOTE that, on 25 May 2007, the Murray-Darling Basin Ministerial Council directed the Murray-Darling Basin Commission, from water presently
available to the Commission, to;

•  allocate 141 GL for South Australia (noting that First Ministers have agreed that this will require 487 GL as a cross-border flow, subject to salinity issues that may emerge),
•  75 GL for New South Wales; and
•  53 GL for Victoria, to allow each state to supply critical human needs (a total allocation of 269 GL) in the 2007-08 season;

2. AGREE that any improvements in water available in the system should thereafter be allocated sequentially as follows, during the 2007-08 season:

•  (a) the next 492 GL of improvements be allocated proportionally such that:

• 120 GL be allocated to each of New South Wales, Victoria, dilution flows and losses in South Australia and to South Australian diversions; and

• 12 GL made available for River Murray Improved Flows (a total allocation of 761 GL);

(b) of the next 739 GL of improvements, 25 per cent should be allocated to dilution flows and losses in South Australia. The remaining 75 per cent should be allocated to New South Wales, Victoria and to South Australian diversions in such a way that most rapidly allows the usual water-sharing arrangements under Part X of the Murray-Darling Basin Agreement to resume, without reducing the volumes already allocated to any State for diversion (a total allocation of 1500 GL);
(c) the next 700 GL should initially be allocated in accordance with the
usual water-sharing arrangements under Part X of the Murray-Darling Basin Agreement, subject to the requirements that:

(i) the volumes already allocated to any State for diversion must not be reduced; and
(ii) 50 per cent of the sum of the additional volumes which would be allocated to New South Wales and Victoria according to those usual water-sharing arrangements must instead be allocated to South Australia (a total allocation of 2200 GL):
(d) once total improvements in available water of 1931 GL have been allocated in accordance with paragraphs (a) to (c), any further improvement in available water should be allocated in such a way that most rapidly allows the usual water-sharing arrangements under Part X of the Murray-Darling Basin Agreement to resume, without reducing the volumes already allocated to any State for diversion; and
(e) once it is possible for the usual water-sharing arrangements under
Part X of the Agreement to resume (after about a total of 2670 GL has been allocated) those arrangements should continue to apply.

Posted in Allocations, Emissions, Environmental Flows, Murray Darling Basin, Policy | Leave a Comment »

NSW, SA, Victoria towns and irrigators wait for Senior Officers October 2007 critical water plans

Posted by waterweek on 4 October 2007

On 4 October Snowy Hydro reported that the NSW Department of Water and Energy was to “review” all dam releases. This wasbelieved to result from an unpublished Octiber decision of Senior Officials’ Group (SOG).The next report was due in October 2007 and “will be focused on the volume of a reserve for 2008-09, as well as the source of water and timing of a reserve for 2008-09”.

The September Recommendations:

The Senior Officials’ Group (SOG) recommends that First Ministers:
1. NOTE that the water supply situation in the southern Basin system is critical.
2. AGREE that contingency planning should continue.
3. NOTE that, given the current water situation, there is a growing likelihood that allocations will be insufficient to avoid significant production losses across most of the Murray System in horticulture and other water dependant agricultural sectors.
4. AGREE that governments will continue to work with industry associations and stakeholder groups to ensure information is available to help producers make business decisions.
5. AGREE that water authorities continue to provide realistic assessments to water users regarding forecast allocations and salinity levels in the system over the coming months, so that irrigators and other industries can make key management decisions.
6. NOTE that unregulated flows which occur in the southern Basin system while operating under the special water sharing arrangements agreed by First Ministers on 20 June 2007, will be managed as follows:

I. Each State may use up to one third of forecast unregulated flows (as declared by the Murray-Darling Basin Commission in a ‘unregulated flow forecast determination’) to address its priority needs, including facilitation of water delivery for those purposes.

II. To the extent it is practicable, flows unable to be captured for these purposes will be directed to highest priority river recovery and environmental watering needs.

7. AGREE measures be taken in 2007-08 to ensure there is enough water available to run the river and for critical needs in 2008-09, as follows:

I. In managing issues around dry inflow planning, markets should be used to the maximum extent possible.

II. Arrangements (including the possibility of establishing a ‘collective’ reserve) should be established by the Murray-Darling Basin Commission in 2007-08 to ensure there is sufficient water in 2008-09 to enable operation of the river and delivery of agreed flows (including 696 GL dilution flow to South Australia), as well as provisions to manage projected poor water quality (particularly salinity and algal blooms).

III. To assist South Australia to store additional reserves, South Australia should be permitted to store reserves in NSW and Victorian airspace in Murray System storages. (It is noted that South Australia is able to access some or all of the volume needed to meet critical requirements from volumes provided for dilution and loss purposes.) To assist the ACT, storage arrangements may need to be negotiated with NSW and Snowy Hydro Ltd.

IV. Operational decisions on the measures to be adopted, including the source, volume and timing of establishing a collective reserve should be made by the Murray-Darling Basin Commission in September 2007, taking into account SOG recommendations.

V. Jurisdictions are encouraged to allow water to be carried over from 2007-08 to 2008-09, which would be available in storages from the beginning of the 2008-09 water year. South Australian carryover held in NSW and Victorian airspace in Murray System storages should have the same priority for delivery as NSW and Victorian carryover. Delivery of any carry-over will depend on having sufficient water available to meet transmission losses.

8. AGREE that contingency measures, initially agreed by First Ministers in response to the December 2006 Contingency Planning Report and implemented during 2007, should if necessary be implemented in a low water availability situation 2008-09. Further water sharing principles may be necessary to ensure critical water needs in each state in 2008-09, and will be proposed as required.

Murray-Darling Basin Dry Inflow Contingency Planning Overview Report to First Ministers September 2007. This is the third Murray-Darling Basin (MDB) Dry Inflow Overview Report to the Prime Minister, the Premiers of New South Wales (NSW), Victoria and South Australia, and the Chief Minister of the Australian Capital Territory (ACT). The first and second Overview Reports and the June 2007 update on MDB inflows are available on the Department of the Environment and Water Resources’ web site (www.environment.gov.au).

Posted in Allocations, australia, Environmental Flows, Murray Darling Basin, Policy, River Murray, Water Security, Water Week Vol 0413 | Leave a Comment »

4 October 2007: Emergency action: NSW Department of Water and Energy to “review” all NSW dam releases

Posted by waterweek on 4 October 2007

It appeared the NSW Department of Water and Energy had frozen all dam releases. This was believed to result from an unpublished decision of State Minister’s Senior Officials’ Group (SOG). Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Environmental Flows, Murray Darling Basin, nsw, Policy, Water Week Vol 0412, Water Week Vol 0413 | Leave a Comment »

Armageddon mode: South Australia stops River Murray water flow into Lake Bonney, as moves to disconnect 27 wetlands, to secure downstream flow

Posted by waterweek on 28 September 2007

According to townspeople in Barmera, the State Government’s stoppage of River Murray water flow into Lake Bonney on Tuesday was the “death knell” for Barmera, reported Doug Robertson, in The Advertiser, (27/09/2007, p.18).

Residents contemplate class action: Save Lake Bonney Group organiser Mark Beech, who ran Barmera Backpackers, said business people in the town were considering a class action against the Government for economic loss. He said Lake Bonney would be “dead” if the fresh water supply was cut off for several months.

Supplies cut: Earthmoving equipment moved in on Tuesday, making a 20 metre “temporary” earth barrier across Chambers Creek near Nappers Bridge, about 5 kilometre from the town centre. The Government had cut off River Murray water at 27 sites.

Govt defends action: State Water Security Minister Kaylene Maywald said discontinuing River Murray water from wetlands and lagoons was an emergency response to the drought.

Posted in australia, Drought, Emergency, Environmental Flows, Evaporation, Murray Darling Basin, South Australia, Wetlands | Leave a Comment »

Murray Darling Armageddon: Ministers agree to drain and block 44 wetlands and build a new weir at Wellington

Posted by waterweek on 21 September 2007

Like the Mayan collapse, it appeared the Murray Darling Basin was in armageddon mode. The long-predicted climatic change appeared to have come early. The Declaration by the the three States, was released by the Prime Minister, who under the just-passed Contingency Planning Overview Report to First Ministers, 20 September 2007.

44 wetlands to die, with more to come: Plans were listed for the death of 44 wetlands with more to come “Senior officials will continue to review the extent to which further wetland disconnection for the purposes of contingency planning is recommended in the Murray System in 2007-08.

Without precedent: “We are facing a spring and summer on the Murray like no other since Hume Dam was completed in 1936,” Chief Executive Dr Wendy Craik AM said today. “The unprecedented combination of both low storage levels and low inflows will require us to operate outside our normal operating regime.”

The Overview Report to First Ministers said: “Disconnection of regulated wetlands to save water in the system continues in each State”:

• The NSW Government temporarily disconnected one regulated wetland (Tareena Billabong) in June 2007. At Euston Lakes evaporation savings will be achieved via lowering of the weir pool. This will have the same effect as disconnecting these wetlands.

• In South Australia, twenty-seven wetlands were closed in January 2007 and two additional wetlands (Ross and Jaeschke Lagoons) were disconnected in June 2007.

The Minister for the Environment and Water Resources determined on 24 August 2007 that the temporary disconnection of a further seven wetlands in South Australia does not need approval under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (1999) (EPBC Act).

• The Murray-Darling Basin Commission has agreed to funding disconnection of six of these wetlands, including the provision of alternative water supplies for existing users;

• The Victorian Government has completed a preliminary assessment of potential wetlands for temporary disconnection.

Temporary weir near Wellington: After a referral by South Australia, the Australian Government Minister for the Environment and Water Resources has determined that the construction of a temporary weir near Wellington is a controlled action for the purposes of the EPBC Act. The temporary weir is to be assessed at the level of an Environmental Impact Statement. The South Australian Government will make an announcement regarding the weir during September 2007.

Posted in agriculture, Allocations, australia, Drought, Emergency, Environmental Flows, Irrigation, mdb, Murray Darling Basin, Policy, Project Approvals, River Murray, SA, Victoria, water, Water Week Vol 0411, Wetlands | Leave a Comment »

NSW, Victoria, South Australia policy-makers drought-panic leads to weasel words and tricky accounting

Posted by waterweek on 21 September 2007

States have made a Declaration of emergency which requires to draining of more than 30 wetlands in the Murray Darling Basin to service Town Water and some irrigation. The Prime Minister’s release of the Murray-Darling Basin Dry Inflow Contingency Planning Overview Report, September 2007 showed panic-moves to respond to worst case of a dry Murray Darling system, with water below intakes, and with what water was left – so saline,  as to, poison crops. Each state had moved into last-ditch-measures mode, and tricky accounting was disguised with weasel word as all States agreed to change rules and use bureaucratic-speak to hide the take of the last water in the system – the wetlands and ‘environmental flows’ – needed to keep the river system alive. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in agriculture, Allocations, Drought, Environmental Flows, Irrigation, Murray Darling Basin, nsw, Policy, River Murray, Town Water, Victoria, water, Water Wars, Water Week Vol 0411, Wetlands | Leave a Comment »

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

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in agriculture, Allocations, Deforestation, Drought, Emergency, Environmental Flows, Extinctions, Fauna, Irrigation, mdb, Murray Darling Basin, Plantation forestry, South Australia, Uncategorized, Water Week Vol 0411, Wetlands | Leave a Comment »

“Serious” says PM: NSW, Vic, and SA argue over dregs of Murray Darling Basin

Posted by waterweek on 21 September 2007

“The 2007-08 water availability outlook for the southern Basin system is serious and has deteriorated through August”, says the Murray-Darling Basin Dry Inflow Contingency Planning Overview Report to First Ministers, September 2007. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Allocations, Drought, Emergency, Environmental Flows, mdb, Murray Darling Basin, Policy, River Murray, SA, Victoria, water | Leave a Comment »

Compulsory water entitlement reductions under clause 77 of Water Bill allows de facto compulsory acquisition: Labor MP

Posted by waterweek on 20 September 2007

The possibility that the long-term average sustainable water diversion limit or cap would have to be reduced meant that there would be compulsory water entitlement reductions under clause 77 of the Water Bill 2007, said Labor’s Anthony Albanese in the Federal Parliament on 14 August 2007. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Allocations, australia, Drought, Environmental Flows, Irrigation, Water Markets, Water Trade, Water Week Vol 0411 | Leave a Comment »

State governments share liability with Commonwealth for post-2014 water compensation: NSW government says change “unacceptable”

Posted by waterweek on 20 September 2007

Clause 255 of the Water Bill 2007 provides that nothing in the Bill or regulations authorises the Commonwealth or any other agency to compulsorily acquire a water access right or an interest in a water access right, according to advice released by the Department of Parliamentary Service on 14 August 2007. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Allocations, Energy, Environmental Flows, Law, nsw, Policy, Regulation, water, Water Markets, Water Trade, Water Week Vol 0411 | Leave a Comment »

Independent management of Murray-Darling Basin in the national interest, said Turnbull

Posted by waterweek on 20 September 2007

The Water Bill 2007 was a quantum leap into the future compared to the current lowest common denominator approach to decision making on water management in the Murray-Darling Basin, said Environment and Water Resources Minister Malcolm Turnbull in the Federal Parliament on 14 August. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Allocations, Drought, Environmental Flows, mdb, nsw, Policy, Regulation, SA, Victoria, water, Water Trade, Water Week Vol 0411 | Leave a Comment »

17 September: disaster-fears as Melbourne’s water storages 38.9 per cent of capacity, 8 percentage points below the 46.6 per cent level of September 2006

Posted by waterweek on 19 September 2007

Melbourne’s water storages were at 38.9 per cent of capacity nearly 8 percentage points below the 46.6 per cent level of September 2006. Opposition Leader Ted Baillieu seized on the figures, warn­ing that Melburnians should not think the worst was behind them. One option to can­cel 20 billion litres of environ­ment flows for the Thomson and Yarra rivers. This represents three or four weeks of average consumption for the city of Melbourne.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in desalination, Drought, Emergency, Environmental Flows, Pipeline, Policy, Water Week Vol 0411 | Leave a Comment »

New Water Releases into the Snowy River 95 ML/Day to around 177 ML/Day for the month of September 2007

Posted by waterweek on 19 September 2007

“As directed by the NSW Department of Water and Energy, Snowy Hydro is increasing seasonal environmental water flows into the Snowy River. Water flows will increase from;
• 95 ML/Day to around 177 ML/Day for the month of September 2007;
• to around 206ML/Day for October 2007;
• returning back to around 95ML/Day in November 2007.

Posted in Drought, Environmental Flows, nsw, Policy, Water Week Vol 0411 | Leave a Comment »

Snowy Report: Snowy Spring melt starts: high snow levels will lower electricity prices

Posted by waterweek on 19 September 2007

Snowfalls within the Snowy Mountains were much higher than last year; and the Spring melt had begun unusually early, in the second week of August.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Drought, Energy, Environmental Flows, nsw, Water Week Vol 0411 | Leave a Comment »

NSW Burrunjuck and Blowering, Snowy Hydro and water in downstream storages, now represent the total available water to the Murrumbidgee Valley

Posted by waterweek on 19 September 2007

A 17 September NSW Department of Water and Energy paper “Critical water planning for the Murrumbidgee Valley”, reported natural inflows into storages have receded to very low levels. Storage levels in Burrunjuck and Blowering together with assured inflows from Snowy Hydro and water in downstream storages, represent the total available water to the Murrumbidgee Valley. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in agriculture, Allocations, Drought, Emergency, Environmental Flows, nsw, Storage | Leave a Comment »