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NSW Murrumbidgee Valley Water Report: 27 September 2007 shows Snowy flow-order saved the day

Posted by waterweek on 28 September 2007

The Snowy release to the Murrumbidgee Valley for 2007/2008 was currently less than half of the normal volume. There was little rain fall across the Murrumbidgee Valley in the past 8 weeks and natural inflows into the major storages, Burrinjuck and Blowering dams, have receeded to low levels.
Jindabyne Release Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted in Allocations, Drought, Hydro, Irrigation, mdb, Murray Darling Basin, nsw, Town Water, Water Week Vol 0413 | Leave a Comment »

Murrumbidgee towns may now ease water restrictions from Level 4 to Level 3a but emergency conditions remain:Water Sharing Plan still disabled

Posted by waterweek on 28 September 2007

The NSW Department of Water and Energy, September 2007 Murrumbidgee High and General Security licences will be allowed to carryover up to 15 per cent of entitlement, as was permitted last water year. Carryover for High Security will be permitted until the Water Sharing Plan was reinstated. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in agriculture, Allocations, Drought, Emergency, Irrigation, mdb, Murray Darling Basin, nsw, Policy, Water Week Vol 0413 | Leave a Comment »

Flow to South Australia slow: September 2007, Lowest flows since 1968, downstream of Euston Weir, and no flow at all from from Kiewa and Ovens

Posted by waterweek on 28 September 2007

The pattern of flows to South Australia over the remainder of the season will be critical in managing river salinity in SA and for meeting increasing diversion requirements and losses said David Dreverman General Manager in the River Murray Report For The Week Ending Wednesday, 19 September 2007. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in agriculture, Allocations, australia, Drought, Emergency, mdb, Murray Darling Basin, nsw, River Murray, SA, South Australia, Victoria, Water Security, Water Week Vol 0413 | 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 »

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

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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 »

Australia’s water-wars: PM says Commonwealth does not plan to divert water from Victoria to South Australia: issues water emergency plan

Posted by waterweek on 21 September 2007

On 20 September the Prime Minister published the September Murray-darling Basin Contingency Planning, paper, despite Victorian resistance.  The Prime Minister said “Last week I wrote to the Premiers of New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria and the Chief Minister of the Australian Capital Territory seeking their agreement to the release of the report. All except Premier Brumby agreed”.  The PM said “Yesterday Premier Brumby publicly announced that Victoria cannot agree to the release of an important report on water availability in the southern Murray-Darling Basin, claiming that it represented an attempt by the Commonwealth to divert water from Victoria to South Australia. The report does no such thing”, wrote the PM, and released the report, to illustrate his point.

The fourth Armageddon plan: When water falls below 3000ML – and its now at about 1500ML – an emergency plan cuts in.  The fourth Contingency Planning Report provides an update on 2007-08 water availability and state water sharing and allocations, an outline of the management of unregulated flows, progress on 2007-08 contingency measures and recommendations for contingency planning in 2008-09.

How the PM sees it:  “ Contrary to Mr Brumby’s claims, the report does not request that Victoria – or any other jurisdiction – divert water to South Australia. Rather, it recommends that measures be taken in 2007-08 to ensure there is enough water available to run the rivers and for critical needs in 2008-09. This includes the possibility – amongst other actions – of a “collective reserve” to be established by the Murray-Darling Basin Commission, about which Premier Brumby expressed concerns to me last week.

Brumby says “No”: Premier Brumby’s actions “follow Victoria’s refusal to join all other jurisdictions in the National Plan for Water Security, on which the Commonwealth has been forced to adopt legislation invoking its constitutional powers”, said the PM. “ Given Mr Brumby’s misrepresentations, and strong public interest grounds for it to be in the public realm, I am releasing the fourth contingency planning report, noting Victoria’s position, in full today, 20 September 2007”.

Posted in Allocations, Drought, Emergency, mdb, Murray Darling Basin, nsw, River Murray, SA, Victoria, Water Security, Water Wars, Water Week Vol 0411 | Leave a Comment »

Water Bill 2007 leaves too many unanswered questions, places unreasonable pressure on states acting in good faith: Labor MP

Posted by waterweek on 21 September 2007

While the Water Bill was a step forward, there was confusion and doubts about several key issues, said Labor MP Anthony Albanese in the Federal Parliament on 14 August 2007.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in mdb, Murray Darling Basin, Policy, River Murray, Town Water, water, Water Security, Water Wars, Water Week Vol 0411 | Leave a Comment »

Vox pop: Gardens take miniscule amounts of Murray water but contribute significantly to economy

Posted by waterweek on 20 September 2007

South Australia receives 8 per cent of the Murray/Darling inflows, of which Adelaide uses on average 130 gigalitres for industry, commerce, business and community, houses and gardens, according to John Calder, Hallet Cove, in a letter to the editor of The Advertiser (17/9/2007, p. 17). Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Allocations, Conservation, Consumption, Domestic, Irrigation, mdb, Public Opinion, River Murray, SA, 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 »

South Australia in full crisis mode as whole Murray river unlikely to get 1 500 gigalitres flow: allocations of 16 per cent

Posted by waterweek on 19 September 2007

Kay Maywald, Minister for Water Security, answering a question in the House of Assembly, South Australia, 11 September 2007, from Adrian Pederick (Hammond) – who asked if the the increase in allocation (allocations of 16 per cent) mean that the state is getting 1 500 gigalitres across the border in River Murray inflows, Kay Maywald said the whole Murray river was unlikely to get 1 500 gigalitres flow.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Allocations, mdb, Policy, River Murray, SA, Storage, Water Week Vol 0411 | Leave a Comment »

Storage in Lake Victoria at 555 GL, to supply water to South Australia

Posted by waterweek on 19 September 2007

The water stored in Lake Victoria originated from tributary inflows during winter, particularly from the Ovens and Kiewa Rivers. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Allocations, mdb, Policy, River Murray, Storage, Water Week Vol 0411 | Leave a Comment »

12 September 2007: Increased levels in Blowering Dam due to releases from Snowy Hydro into the Murrumbidgee system

Posted by waterweek on 19 September 2007

New Snowy releases ordered: Increased levels in Blowering Dam are largely due to releases from Snowy Hydro into the Murrumbidgee system. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Hydro, mdb, Storage, Water Week Vol 0411 | Leave a Comment »

1000-year low-flow in Murray River: Murray-Darling Basin report for the week ending Wednesday, 12 September 2007:

Posted by waterweek on 19 September 2007

Murray-Darling Basin Commission general manager David Dreverman told a water summit inflow into the Murray last month was so low as to be classed as a one-in-1000-year. In a report published published 14 September, 2007 he detailed the very low level of the Murray System; weekly inflow of 53 GL for the River Murray system remains well below the average for this time of year of about 380 GL. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Drought, Emergency, mdb, Policy, River Murray, SA, Water Week Vol 0411 | Leave a Comment »

10 September: River Murray bed running dry; river flow checked at Lock 7, between Renmark and Mildura

Posted by waterweek on 18 September 2007

The river bed of the River Murray was running dry just across the border in Victoria and water had been kept upstream of South Australia as part of the Murray-Darling Basin Commission’s management plan to ensure flow across the border in coming months, reported The Advertiser (10/9/2007, p. 8).

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Allocations, mdb, Policy, River Murray, SA, Victoria, Water Week Vol 0411 | Leave a Comment »

Minister lists South Australia emergency water measures; such as lowered intakes to get last dregs as river-level falls: and new standpipes for water-carting

Posted by waterweek on 17 September 2007

Kay Maywald, Minister for Water Security, told the House of Assembly, South Australia, 11 September 2007 listed South Australian government projects managed through the water security task force:

• disconnection of selected wetlands to yield over 30 gigalitres in water savings;

• modification of the major pumping stations below lock 1 to enable them to operate at the river levels as the river level falls, and to delay as long as possible the need to construct a temporary weir, if at all;

• preparations to construct a temporary weir below the Wellington have been necessary, and they include the design, construction, scheduling and environmental assessment necessary for the project should it need to go ahead;

• pumping of additional River Murray water into storages during the of 2006-07 water year has been essential, and this did increase water storage at the beginning of this year as well as provide a buffer for this year in the event of algal outbreaks in the River Murray and also other water quality issues;

• fast tracked water filtration facilities for 17 communities that presently receive unfiltered water from the River Murray at a cost of in excess of $50 million. This is an important project as we have to deal with serious water quality issues in the future, and providing that filtered water is essential;

• pipeline constructed to supply water to the Clayton community around Lake Alexandrina, which currently accesses its water from the lake; and

• standpipes for water carting have been installed at Goolwa North, Milang, Meningie, Hindmarsh Island and Narrung. “We have streamlined dredging processes to enable irrigators to access water as the river levels below lock 1 have receded”.

Reference: K.A. Maywald, Minister for Water Security, House of Assembly, South Australia, 11 September 2007.

Posted in mdb, Policy, River Murray, Water Week Vol 0411 | Leave a Comment »

Federal Government considers buying the eight gigalitres to be auctioned on the Warrego

Posted by waterweek on 17 September 2007

The results of the CSIRO survey into the Warrego River, the first of a series on the basin, was alarming because it suggested that more developed river systems, like the Condamine-Balonne, will face serious problems, according to Asa Wahlquist in The Australian (8/9/2007, p.5).

Water extraction to be halved: By 2030, climate change and water use will see a 7 per cent reduction in the amount of water that flows out of the Warrego, in southwest Queensland, into the Darling. Water extraction would have to be halved on the second-least developed river in the basin for the Warrego’s water-sharing plan, which specifies 89 per cent of its flows should reach the Darling.

Less than 12GL of private water storage along Warrego: The Murray-Darling Basin Commission reports there is less than 12 gigalitres (billion litres) of private water storage built along the Warrego, compared with 1333GL on the Condamine-Balonne. In 2005-06, 25GL passed through Cunnamulla on the Warrego, while the total flow through St George, on the Balonne, was 123GL.

CSIRO report result of Water Summit: The CSIRO report includes the eight gigalitres of Warrego water that the Queensland Government intends auctioning off. The report was commissioned by the Prime Minister’s Water Summit last November and is the most comprehensive report of its kind undertaken by the organisation. The CSIRO assessed current water use, including the interaction between ground-water and surface water. It also estimated future water use, looking at the impact of climate change and future developments like plantations and farm dams that would reduce stream flow.

Climate models variation: Dr Hatton said the best estimate of the impact of climate change on the Warrego was that it would reduce river flows by 6 per cent in 2030, leading to 7 per cent less water flowing into the Darling River. “It is important to appreciate there is variation among the climate models.” He said the hydrology of the 137,000-hectare Yantabulla swamp, and the water holes along the Warrego had not been affected by current development.

Lowest inflow on record last year: Last year, inflows into the Murray were the lowest on record, just 1211GL, far below the average of 11,100GL Assistant federal Environment and Water Resources Minister John Cobb said the report “underlines the incredible variability of the system”. He said the federal Government was considering buying the eight gigalitres to be auctioned on the Warrego.

Posted in Allocations, Auction, Climate, Irrigation, Law, mdb, nsw, Price, qld, Water Week Vol 0411 | Leave a Comment »

River Murray bed running dry; river flow checked at Lock 7, between Renmark and Mildura

Posted by waterweek on 17 September 2007

The river bed of the River Murray was running dry just across the border in Victoria and water had been kept upstream of South Australia as part of the Murray-Darling Basin Commission’s management plan to ensure flow across the border in coming months, reported The Advertiser (10/9/2007, p. 8).

River impassable to larger craft: “Within weeks State Cabinet will consider plans for Adelaide’s first desalination plant to reduce reliance on the river,” The Advertiser reported. “The river flow has been checked at Lock 7, between Renmark and Mildura, reducing it to barely a trickle over the past week. A small channel on one side of the river allows for the passage of small boats through the lock but houseboats are unable to navigate the shallow waters.”

September dry unusual: Riverland photographer Glenn Milne said “a couple of garden hoses” would squirt more water past the lock. “There’s a huge sand bar that’s three-quarters the way across the river and the rest of it is only very shallow,” he said. Lock masters said the river bed often dried out in June when river flows were reduced but it was unusual for the river still to be dry in September when irrigation water usually was released.

Less than 25pc of monthly average flow: Monthly inflows into the River Murray had been below average for the past 23 months. In August, 360 gigalitres flowed into the river, compared with the long-term monthly average of 1570 gigalitres. The release of water from Hume reservoir has been as low as possible in winter.

Posted in Allocations, mdb, River Murray, SA, Victoria, Water Week Vol 0411 | 1 Comment »

No end in sight for Australian drought: farmers face worse summer ever, experts say

Posted by waterweek on 14 September 2007

Bureau of Meteorology nat­ional climate centre chief Michael Coughlan said hopes were fading fast for desperately needed rains, reported The Age (7/9/2007, p. 4).

Food prices tipped to rise: “Is this drought over? Certainly not — we can’t predict when this drought will end,” Dr Coughlan said. Murray Darling Basin Com­mission chief executive Wendy Craik said irrigators on the Mur­ray River, including many Victor­ian citrus growers and dairy farmers, faced their worst ever summer. Fresh produce would be hit and food prices would probably rise, Dr Craik warned.

Over half all agricultural land drought-declared: The experts were at a drought briefing in Melbourne organised by the Australian Science Media Centre. More than half of Australia’s agricultural land, including all of Victoria’s, is now drought-declared, costing the Federal Government $1.8 billion so far. Exceptional circumstances funding for many areas will run out in March next year. But the Government may extend the emergency relief, Department of Agriculture drought manager Matt Koval said. That would mean spending hundreds of millions of dollars extra to bail out farmers.

The Age, 7/9/2007, p. 4

Posted in Allocations, australia, Climate, mdb, Policy, water, Water Week Vol 0411 | Leave a Comment »

Adelaide could run out of water by the summer of 2008-09; above-average rainfall required next winter in Murray-Darling Basin

Posted by waterweek on 14 September 2007

Adelaide could run out of water by the summer of 2008-09 after disappointing rains this winter failed to recharge the city’s main supply from the Murray River, reported The Australian (5/9/2007, p.6).

Sudden torrent required, or else: The catastrophe of residents of the South Australian capital forced to rely on emergency supplies of water from January 2009 can be averted only by well-above-average rainfall next winter in the Murray-Darling Basin. However, the chances of the city’s estimated eight months of storage being replenished before next winter are fading because the likelihood of above-average rain over the next three months is low.

Eight months emergency supply for Adelaide: SA Water had already pumped an extra 60 gigalitres of water to top up the city’s reservoirs as a buffer against further deterioration of water quality in the Murray. Currently filled to about 80 per cent of capacity, they provide eight months’ water supply for Adelaide and will operate as a final emergency tank if supplies from the Murray run out.

BHP desalination plant plan at Spencer Gulf: Whyalla mayor Jim Pollock said he was increasingly concerned about his region’s reliance on water piped from Morgan, at the bottom of the Murray River. He said the community could look at switching supply to the BHP desalination plant proposed at the top of Spencer Gulf to supply the expansion to the uranium mine at Roxby Downs. “We’ve got to take what comes out of the tap, but if conditions worsen then it’s time for us to speak to the authorities to find out what measures they’ve got in place for us,” he said.

The Australian, 5/9/2007, p. 6

Posted in australia, desalination, Drought, Emergency, mdb, SA, water, Water Week Vol 0411 | Leave a Comment »

Cotton, citrus growers on Macquarie River claim new aerial photos prove marsh graziers using legal and illegal levee banks and channels to flood land with water

Posted by waterweek on 14 September 2007

Cotton and citrus growers on the Macquarie River upstream of the marshes claim new aerial photos prove marsh graziers are using legal and illegal levee banks and channels to flood their land with water that should be going into the Macquarie Marshes nature reserves, reported The Sydney Morning Herald (15/8/2007, p.10).

Graziers: it’s legal: Graziers insist most of the structures are legal and no water is being stolen because their land is part of the marshes. Irrigation development on the Macquarie River after the Burrendong Dam was built in the 1960s. Graziers say that until then, their land and the nature reserves were frequently flooded and boasted healthy wetlands. Upstream irrigators claim the marshes are dying because of overgrazing and graziers diverting water.

Govt in mass irrigation licence buy-back: The marshes, north of Warren, cover about 200,000 hectares, 12 per cent of them in nature reserves. The Government has started spending millions buying back irrigation licences so more water can get to the marshes. Chris Hogendyk, the head of the irrigator group Macquarie River Food and Fibre, said the Gum Cowal-Terrigal branch of the marshes received less than 10 per cent of flood flows before 1980 but now got up to 30 per cent of what previously went to the nature reserves.

Flooding kills trees: There were once no large bird breeding colonies on the system, he said, but now there were several. “The water should be going to the nature reserves, not onto private land. Once water enters the Gum Cowal-Terrigal system it is diverted and banked up across the floodplain by no less than 30 banks and channels. This water creates wonderful feed for fattening cattle, but kills the trees that are flooded. The resulting man-made wetlands are grazed bare.” Hogendyk said.

The Sydney Morning Herald, 15/8/2007, p. 10

Posted in Allocations, australia, Drought, GIS, Law, mdb, nsw, Policy, qld, Water Week Vol 0411 | Leave a Comment »

NWI Clause 77 risk-sharing formula, if available water is reduced in future and agreed by all governments and supported by farmers, says Minister Turnbull

Posted by waterweek on 14 September 2007

Any suggestion that clause 77 of the bill introducing the National Water Initiative (NWI), which talks about risk sharing, amounted to compulsory acquisition, showed a misunderstanding, said Malcolm Turnbull, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, in the Federal House of Representatives on 14 August 2007.

Risk sharing is not acquisition: “The fact is that compulsory acquisition is ruled out in this bill,” the Minister said. “It is not part of the government’s policy, and we have made it express in the legislation that there is no power for compulsory acquisition. However, a central plank of the reforms under the National Water Initiative was to move from the old system of volumetric licences to water access entitlements that are a perpetual or ongoing share of the available resource. If the amount of water available in the future is reduced— and this is canvassed and contemplated in the NWI as a possibility—a risk-sharing formula applies to spread those risks between water users, the states and the Commonwealth. The bill achieves the codification of the Commonwealth’s NWI responsibilities for risk sharing. That is not acquisition. The legal status of water entitlements is not affected.”

Arrangements widely supported: “Importantly, through these arrangements, the government is meeting its NWI commitments,” Turnbull said. “These arrangements have been agreed to by all governments and are supported by farming organisations and farmers around Australia and have been ever since 2004. So, with respect to the member for Grayndler, he misunderstands the nature of the legislation and indeed the National Water Initiative itself.”

Reference: Malcolm Turnbull, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, Federal Member for Wentworth, House of Representative, Commonwealth, 14 August 2007.

Erisk Net, 19/8/2007

Posted in Allocations, Drought, Emergency, Federal Election, Law, mdb, Policy, Water Week Vol 0411 | Leave a Comment »