Environment

Mar 21, 2018

Murray-Darling Basin Plan doomed by well-intentioned ‘nonsense’

With the plan now falling apart, experts are shining a light on its flaws and forging a new path towards meaningful action.

Chris Woods — Freelance journalist

Chris Woods

Freelance journalist

Much has been made of alleged water theft and lack of political willpower as reasons for the Murray-Darling Basin Plan's demonstrable failure. And while sure, New South Wales is pulling out of a plan the government failed to monitor and enforce at any rate, experts are now pointing to a fundamental misunderstanding of ecological systems -- namely return flow, and poorly thought-out irrigation infrastructure -- as a sign that the $13 billion plan was doomed before it began.

Of the $6 billion already spent on the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, some $4 billion has been spent on water recovery infrastructure projects that, according to a recent report delivered by University of South Australia Economics Professor Lin Crase and 11 other water experts, offer “no scientific evidence that they have actually increased net stream flows”.

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19 comments

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19 thoughts on “Murray-Darling Basin Plan doomed by well-intentioned ‘nonsense’

  1. graybul

    I lived on the banks of the mighty Murray River in a small township within spitting distance of the southern ocean. And year by year, month by month, week by week, day by day and hour by hour . . . we watched . . and we cried . . . so that even tears might forestall the inevitable. The Murray River died. No flow, no pools, no moist mud . . . just dry, baked and broken . . . Money, greed and politicians triumphed. And still today, they are triumphant.

  2. James Brown

    Why would anyone think that a joint state federal body/agreement would work.? Just about every such system is dysfunctional. National Electricity Market, National Disability Insurance, COAG, Health Services.
    In all cases there are huge costs extracted from consumers (and government who pass the costs on via taxes). This money provides jobs to a bureaucracy which creates rules but rarely enforces them.
    Rarely are the costs and benefits to consumers evaluated, even more rarely are alternative approaches examined.
    Are there any working Commonwealth/State systems?

  3. [email protected]

    The biggest stuff up and one of the main reasons the plan is now falling to bits is the recognition that the Coorong flows came from the opposite direction historically and they were both surface and ground water flows which meant pre barrages the Coorong flowed into Lake Alexandrina even in the middle of summer . In 1940 the barrages are constructed directing the flows from the south of the Coorong directly to the Murray Mouth and that is the reason the mouth never closed over during the 1967 / 68 drought . The flows kept dropping into the Coorong from the south due to the extensive networks of drains in the south east when during the 1982 drought there was insufficient flows to keep the mouth open and it closes for the first time since 1940. The Murray Mouth closed over frequently prior to the construction of the barrages when the Coorong flows sustained Lake Alexandrina during the low flows from the Murray River in summer (1902 Royal Commission into the Murray Darling put the flows at less than 1.2 meters in South Australia for 5 to 6 months of the year , the minimum height for the River boats to operate ) . The flows continued to drop and during the Millenium drought of 2006 with only 26 gigalitres now entering the southern lagoon and this is the reason salinity levels were 6 to 10 times that of sea water and the Eastern Sates were wrongly blamed . Currently the South East Restoration Flows project will contribute an additional 20 gigalitres , enough to stop hyper salinization but not enough to flush the system with exponentially increasing organic material growing at over the 5 mm annually . The Coorong system is dying and nothing to do with the Murray Darling Basin system . The first signs of this deposition of organic material in the Coorong was in the 1950s . The freshening flows for Lake Albert also came from the south and flowed into Lake Alexandrina . The Murray Darling Basin plan is a triple bottom line disaster over seen by fools with most major political parties including the Greens fully aware of the disaster but possibly to stupid to understand the significance and if they are , now caught in the glare of the headlights coming their way . The Facebook page Murray Darling Basin Myths outlines all the false assumptions behind this fiasco

    1. Marcus Hicks

      LOL. You’re such an obvious troll that its almost embarrassing to call you out on it. I’ve seen that Facebook Page, & it’s so obviously a propaganda site funded by the Cotton Industry, & other vested interests, that it’s laughable.

  4. MAC TEZ

    If Tones canned it we can be fairly certain the NWC (toothless tiger that it may have been) had some worth and merit.
    It must be time we banned cotton crops in the worlds driest continent, it’s been said/sung that ya never miss the water till ya well runs dry and that day’s already arrived for some while there’s more to come.

  5. David Francis

    There is a point where the Federal Government needs to step in and ban further large scale farming developments in the Murry/Darling basin. For too long it’s relied on the taxes coming in from cotton, pasture and rice, and the votes from irrigat0rs and the communities that support them. I grew up in a small town, I know that this will have a bad effect on lives and jobs, but there’s a point where you have to face reality instead of yelling that it’s someone else’s problem downstream.

  6. Itsarort

    If I throw some serious sheckels at the LNP and subsequently pipe the wonderous virtues of Malcolm and Gladys, will they let me grow rice at Menindee?

  7. Marcus Hicks

    It wasn’t wrecked by “good intentions”, it was wrecked by flat out under-handedness & corruption. Even though it was a thought bubble from Howard in the dying days of his regime, the Coalition *never* truly supported the MDBP, & have spent all their time in government trying to undermine it……& ultimately destroy it.

    1. [email protected]

      Sorry to disappoint you but nearly all of the senior politicians on both sides of politics are now aware that the flows for the Coorong came from the opposite direction and flowed into Lake Alexandrina , not the other way around as most ill informed people still assume . The 1985 Ramsar listing of the Coorong as a reverse estuarine system and the Lower Lakes as a artificial elevated fresh water system was all about covering up South Australia’s culpability when the flows started to be reversed . And those flows continued to drop until the Southern Lagoon of the Coorong became 6 to 10 saltier than sea water , as you would expect with a terminal Lagoon system that is over 100 kilometers long and receiving its flows from affectively what is its arse . So they started the South East restoration project which is expected to be completed later this year at a cost of $60 Million but it will only return 20 gigalitres into the Southern Lagoon of the Coorong ? That sounds like being a little bit pregnant to me as some fools tried to argue that is all that it ever received . The Ngarrindjeri always knew the truth and likewise the historical record and science always supported it as well ” NGARRINDJERI NATION SEA COUNTRY PLAN
      Caring for Ngarrindjeri Country and Culture
      Prepared on behalf of the Ngarrindjeri Nation by
      The Ngarrindjeri Tendi
      The Ngarrindjeri Heritage Committee
      The Ngarrindjeri Native Title Management Committee
      Supported by the Ngarrindjeri Land and Progress Association (Inc.)
      2007 https://www.environment.gov.au/…/ngarrindjeri-scp-2006-1.pdf From page 15 ” Since the 1860s successive South Australian governments have supported the construction of a huge network of agricultural drains in the south-east of our Country. Water that once brought life to a vast expanse of wetlands was drained into the sea, and the Coorong and other inland wetlands have been denied their major source of freshwater. As a result of this destructive land management, the Coorong, for thousands of years a major focus of our culture and economy, began to deteriorate and is rapidly dying today. According to recent scientific studies two thirds of the Coorong is irreparably damaged. From 1935 to 1940 the South Australian Government funded the construction of five barrages at the southern end of Lake Alexandrina for the purpose of preventing the flow of saltwater into Lake Alexandrina and the Murray River. Until that time, saltwater mixed with fresh water and sometimes travelled great distances up the river and the ecosystems of the lakes and the river had depended on the mixing of saltwater and freshwater.
      The barrages were built at the request of European landowners and without the consent of Ngarrindjeri people. For the last 65 years we have witnessed the decline in the health, wildlife and other resources of the lakes and the river,made worse by the deliberate introduction of exotic species, such as the European Carp and destructive farming practices such as dairy farming, irrigation, land clearing and cattle and sheep grazing “.

  8. [email protected]

    The historical flows from the south east of South Australia into the Coorong and the Lower Lakes from the South and plenty more supporting evidence https://www.facebook.com/MurrayDarlingBasinMyths/photos/a.1701182950138245.1073741829.1611054702484404/1946383632284841/?type=3

    1. Marcus Hicks

      LOL. Citing your own propaganda page does not constitute “supporting evidence”. So tell us, are you on the Librorts Party payroll, or the Cotton/Rice Industry payroll? Not that there is anything much to separate the two these days.

  9. [email protected]

    I find it strange how one must go back to 1964 to a well respected Historian and Geographer Dr Michael Williams to uncover the truth https://www.facebook.com/darren.debortoli/posts/1441635079229557

    1. Marcus Hicks

      Again, citing your own page doesn’t constitute evidence. Now go collect your paycheck from the Cotton Industry, you’ve clearly earned it with today’s propaganda effort.

  10. [email protected]

    This should be easy to explain the increasing organic sediment unless you think the flows came from the Murray Darling Basin in which case you have no chance https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=1588704854522578&set=a.937307386328998.1073741829.100001492373202&type=3

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