Murray-Darling basin disappears down plughole

If it doesn’t rain significantly in the next two months, all irrigation in the Murray-Darling basin will cease. Press release from the Prime Minister here.

As the ABC story says, all the fruit trees, grape vines, olive trees, and whatnot being irrigated in the basin will die, reducing production (and incomes) for years to come. I hate to think what the financial and social cost of that will be.

Not to mention what it will likely do to the already-struggling redgum forests and wetlands of the Murray – not helped by farmers illegally letting their cattle loose in the wetlands.

If it does get to the stage of shutting down irrigation completely, expect the screams of the National Party for more dam building to get even louder, with proposals like Big Buffalo. Where the water to fill these dams is supposed to come from is, of course, a mystery…

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60 comments on “Murray-Darling basin disappears down plughole
  1. hannah says:

    I heard that on Radio National.
    Then a few minutes later some irrigation industry representative said something along the lines that there will still be some irrigation occurring next year.
    [Can you sort out out who said what cos I can’t get ABC transcripts?]
    It sounded to me [and I may have misheard cos I was in another room when the irrigationist was speaking] that the fella was suggesting that if there was to be water available next season then the irrigationists would use it.
    And devil take the hindmost [he didn’t actually say that].
    I’m still constantly irritated by the blaming of the drought [that was inevitable] for all the ills of the river and the failure to face up to the structurally inefficient and impossible to maintain demands made on the river.
    BTW the lagoon outside my window is now totally bone dry.
    We must permanently decrease dramatically the amount of water taken out of the river.
    Ant the biggest users by far are irrigators.

  2. I think irrigation will still be permissible from other sources than the Murray Darling.

    I reckon its a cynical move by Howard*. It’s a populist winner – appease greens and most punters, steal a headline or two from Rudd, but its a good bet there will be significant rain in the next few months, and he’ll be able to announce restricted irrigation is back on.

    *and Labor Premiers.

  3. professor rat says:

    Price-less Costello – ‘Yes but possums economically the environment doesn’t matter that much…plus what does it matter if Australians are among the worlds worst gas producers and I am a closeted gay nazi having children as cover?…as yr putative Prime Minister I urge you to keep having one for Mom, one for Dad and have one for the lovely Bill Heffernan in the government. It’s a good ship the Lollypop.’

  4. The irrigation industry rep said that the announcement might be a bit premature, because the big inflows to the dams in the Great Divide are usually in winter and spring.

    As to the real situation, you might also be interested in the Murray-Darling Basin Commission’s drought update from a couple of weeks ago.

    It’s less dramatic than the PM’s announcement (and says that statistically, enough rain to allow a little irrigation is likely), but basically if there isn’t some rain there won’t be irrigation.

    Since then, it hasn’t rained in north-east Victoria.

  5. FXH: there’s no environmental flows either, so I doubt environmentalists will be thrilled.

    Furthermore, while the announcement is a bit sensational, the fact is that there is essentially no water left in the dams whatsoever, and there’s very little water coming in. So, unless that changes very soon, it’s a choice between a few more weeks of irrigation, and letting Adelaide’s taps get shut off.

  6. Pavlov's Cat says:

    As an Adelaidean, I’ve been trying to get through to the various rainwater tank companies listed in the Yellow Pages all afternoon. They’re all permanently engaged. Der.

    Robert, thanks for your lovely sane well-informed well-linked environment/climate-change posts. I’ve been finding them really informative and helpful.

  7. Laura says:

    Why are they still running lawn sprinklers in Mildura?

  8. Jacques Chester says:

    Hooray for living in Darwin. We have more water than any of you lot and we’re already used to high priced foodstuffs.

  9. Pavlov's Cat says:

    Why are they still running lawn sprinklers in Mildura?

    Because it’s the frontier, where men are men and irrigators are irrigators?

    Because Mildura is run by the Mafia?

    *runs away, uselessly*

  10. joe2 says:

    Pav C keep trying. We now have three tanks …the largest 4500 litres. No trouble filling them in a good storm or two . Avoid plumbers as they are pretty easy to install. Old baths, from the tip, are great to collect grey water. We are on the highest water restriction level, yet the garden is flourishing.

    A report came out, just the other day, see below, on the obvious importance of water tanks but there is still a reluctance to back there installation with low cost loans. The preference is to keep the price high by involving expensive plumbers to get a tiny, not worth it , grant. And waste money on more bloody dams as Robert suggests.
    http://www.acfonline.org.au/articles/news.asp?news_id=1222&c=19486

  11. Enemy Combatant says:

    “And who’s gonna tell the children
    How the rivers used to flow cystal blue
    And we keep leaving scars on Mother Earth
    And moving closer to the truth”

    sung Tony Joe White from the Jambalaya Stage at Byron Bues & Roots Fest this Easter. Backed only by a drummer, the gnarled old swamp-fox purred his way through a splendid set. He’s lost a touch of his top register but has found a raspy Neil Young guitar buzz to make the point these days, once genltly prophetic when he wrote the song in 1991, but now angry.

    Meanwhile, sound economic manager that he is, The Rodent, has urged a nation to pray for rain.

    “Reared up on ‘is ‘ind legs ‘e did, like Elmer bleedin’ Gantry”.

    The power of prayer, however, is unlikely to keep a lid on interest rates should the drought continue, but what’s he got to lose?

    If it rains, God’s on his side, it’s good news week all over again; if it doesn’t, he’s one stuffed rodent.
    One thing’s for sure; as we all share the same biosphere, so we all move closer to the truth.

  12. pablo says:

    A decade ago I owned a tiny soldier settlement block in the Riverina and always had an anxious eye to the weather. Now we are supposedly, currently out of a El Nino and into a wetter La Nina according to the Met, but from April 18 reports, we are at minus 11 on the ( 50:50) climb toward higher precipitation.
    Little wonder then that the rodent acted, that without flooding rains in the next six weeks, its all over…hold your breath til spring when the whithering heat will make or break you.
    This calamity is potentially our ‘grapes of wrath’. The blame game of who over-allocated who and political point scoring simply won’t wash anymore.
    There were some 3500 landowners in the Murumbidgee Irrigation District, many more in entire Murray. A massive compensaton and resettlement scheme is likely. It could dominate a federal election campaign.

  13. Laura, part of the reason is that the water used by Mildura (or Adelaide for that matter) is a piddle in the ocean compared to what the irrigators use.

    Joe2: I was aiming to put up a post on that report. My initial take is that they’re overestimating the cost of desalination (even carbon-neutral desalination), and they’re underestimating the cost of tanks.The problem is that, essentially, because they won’t let you drink the stuff out of tanks in the cities, you have to put in all manner of elaborate bypassing if you want to connect up your indoor plumbing to the tank.

    I’d like to see an investigation into how much putting filters on kitchen and bathroom taps – thus making the potential contamination problem moot – would cost.

  14. Brian says:

    Robert, thanks for the post and I look forward to the one about the rainwater tanks that Joe 2 linked to. I’ve had a quick squizz and my impression was the same. I think the calculations of costs are a bit rough and I wonder about the relationship between rainfall pattern and yield.

    On the basis of our experience a 5kL tank would have been full most of the time in the summer and vast quantities of water would have gone down the drain.

    On The World Today they said:

    JOHN HOWARD: …What the report in essence says, that unless there are very substantial inflows and for that read heavy rain leading to runoff into the catchment areas prior to mid May 2007, there will be insufficient water available to allow any allocation of the commencement of the 2007/2008 water year for irrigation, the environment or for any purposes other than critical urban supplies.

    PETA DONALD: So if it doesn’t rain heavily in the next six to eight weeks, there’ll be no water allocated for irrigation in the Murray Darling basin.

    Even if it does rain, Mr Howard says it won’t be possible to know until late July, or well into August if it’s been enough to go ahead and provide water to irrigators. [Emphasis added]

    Since then in news reports they’ve been saying “six to eight weeks” whereas mid-May is only four weeks away.

    In the next item George Warne, the General Manager for Murray Irrigation Limited, said:

    Well the irrigation season in the Southern areas ends in the coming weeks and we all look forward to next year, and typically the best inflow month for our catchments are August, September, October and November so it’s far too early to write off 2007/8 yet and to do so I think is, is, is a bit alarmist.

    There was also a suggestion that Adelaide should be on more severe restrictions.

  15. philip travers says:

    Mr.Merkel,You used the word cities,could you a little bit more exact,please.I know I may come across as a I have been everywhere man,travel I have had.. etc.,but go to the horses mouth on this,because the CSIRO in a suggestion I sent to a local paper near where I live in N.S.W. was taken up to supply water to a small town in South Australia with desalinated water.Melbourne allows tanks now,and has some problems still unless they changed their minds since the Cain government,so there was leadership there really because a upper house labor member just couldnt really find a reason not to have tanks any longer. Sydney is supporting tanks.

  16. BeeF says:

    The States have been doing a lousy job with the Murray Darling for years and now the Federal Government has put $10B on the table to try to fix it. There is now only one Labor government standing in the way – nobody has a better plan but the Bracks Government just wants to play politics.

    If the issue gets worse, blame Steve Bracks and his crew – everybody else is prepared to give the Feds a go. Let’s give it a go at least.

  17. Philip, you’re certainly allowed to put in a tank, but there are restrictions in some places as to whether you’re allowed to connect it to your kitchen (and even bathroom) taps. It appears that there are no such legal restrictions in Victoria, but there are in Brisbane.

  18. silkworm says:

    Yes, the Rodent has revealed the new national strategy for saving the Murray-Darling, saying we should all pray for rain. Was he advised on this by Peter Garrett?

    At last, we have an appropriate fusion of church and state. I look forward to Howard’s new national education strategy, in which all school children will attend prayer classes as part of the national environmental studies curriculum.

    But have the Rodent’s scientific advisors thought this through? Praying for rain may not be specific enough. We should be praying for God to end the current el Nino.

  19. wilful says:

    BeeF, do you actually knwo what you’re talking about? Doesn’t sound like it…

    Bracks objections to the plan are pretty sound, and are backed by the VFF (hardly a Labor front organisation). Victoria has massively reformed the water sector in recent years, and is well acknowledged as leading the States. Now Howard wants to come in and help out his rural electorates with some uncosted porkbarrelling crap, and they can’t answer simple questions about their plan. Do you really think a State government is properly representing it’s citizens by allowing a massive waste of money with uncertain outcomes?

  20. joe2 says:

    Further to what wilful said, BeeF, EVEN the Head of Treasury, Ken Henry, recently expressed the opinion that this proposal was a dog. Why aren’t the journos on Howards’ case for this extreme 10 b gladhand, when he did not even run it past treasury ?

    Most disturbing of all, is the reluctance of premiers, besides Bracks , to tell Howard to stop throwing public funds around so indiscrimantly.

  21. BeeF says:

    Well – it looks like it may now go ahead without Victoria. If they are so happy with what they currently have then I guess they won’t mind missing out (what could have been) their share of $10B worth of infrastructure. Wilful, I know what I am talking about – I’m just not blinded by left wing trapclap.

  22. In any case, when a friend of mine explained to me how the state funding formula worked, apparently if the federal government gives special-purpose money to one state, there’s a corresponding increase in funding to the other states by way of compensation. So Victoria may not actually be forgoing that much dough.

  23. wilful says:

    This is left wing? Get a frigging grip. Now I’m convinced that you get all of your water policy news from the Australian. As previously pointed out, Victorian farmers have roundly rejected the plan. Try reading that bible of socialists, Green Left Weekly the Weekly Times.

    Putting $10 bn towards a plan doesn’t automatically make it good (which seems to be your logic), and if Victoria misses out on some of the cash that merely provides more evidence that it was illogical in the first place.

  24. joe2 says:

    Robert filtering is obviouly an issue, but maybe not such a big one. The victorian council you refer to seems a bit lax in their advice ,incidentally.

    I suggest most people put in tanks to water the garden and clean the car/ dog. Even if that is as far as they go, it is still a good saving.

  25. hannah says:

    Look people I like rainwater tanks.
    I’ve always had one.
    The one I have now [capacity 27,500 litres, able to be nearly filled in a normal year of roof runoff] is the mainstay of our water supply until the Murray returns to “normal’.?
    But they are a drop in the ocean as far as total water taken out of the Murray or wherever else.
    Their main value is that they help form part of an ethos of water conservation, good for public awareness.
    But if every house in Adelaide had a largish [for a suburban house] tank it would save an insignificant amount of water compared to irrigation use in SA alone.

    Less than 1% of normal irrigation use.

    By all means get tanks, good idea, but please don’t assume that they will have any impact on the water problem.
    Only significantly and permanently decreasing irrigation use will do that.

  26. joe2 says:

    “Yep, it’s thems bloody irrigators what have stuffed up everythink and now Ratty’s going to pay them out for water that was never theirs in the first bloody place.” A strongly held position by Norm. Please discuss.

  27. Appu says:

    Please explain.

    Being a migrant and Australian citizen of 15 years standing maybe I just don’t understand what is actually going on. The discussions seems to treat IR (Workchoices), Murray-Darling farmers and the Environment as three separate issues.

    What I don’t understand is why is it important for the farmers to keep farming? What union is looking after their interests as opposed to the Tristar employees, the Ford employees, the call centre employees, the textile, footwear etc etc etc ad nauseum.

    Why is it ok for a corner BBQ chook store to go under after being in the same family for three generations (the family could well claim to have chicken grease under their finger nails) but if I am a primary producer of any sort 10 billion is the minimum I can expect to be spent to help just in the M- D basin and that just on agriculture! Is it true there are 50, 000 families involved – surely a pittance compared with whatever has happened with off shoring?

    If I work in any industry that gets whipped by competition and get laid off – them is the breaks. But if I grow bananas – no imports to alleviate the consumer’s needs – user pays indeed!

    I wish someone would explain to me why a family in primary as opposed to secondary production needs to be sustained and shielded from the glare of competition (this is not to start any comparisons with the EU or US with their levels of subsidy ).

    The environment is considered to be synonymous with agriculture! Should the approach be to see what the environment needs or what Cubby Station or any of the other users be they “mum’s and dad’sâ€? .
    The two questions are completely different.

    Please explain.

  28. Peterc says:

    Howard’s recent media on this is an admission of serious Government policy and process failure.

    Howard and Turnbull’s recently announced 10 billion water reform package will not address primary causes of the drought such as climate change.

    Howard has repeatedly claimed that Australia cannot reduce carbon emissions or coal exports because it will affect our level of income and standard of living. He is terribly wrong – the reverse is the case.

    Ignoring climate change and refusing to address it has now exposed Australia to the very real risk that our food production will be greatly compromised due to lack of water. The Murray Darling Basin provides about 40 percent of Australia’s food production, and relies very heavily on irrigation. If the drought continues, many farmers and rural towns will go broke, and food prices will rise for everyone, which will have a major impact on both incomes and lifestyles.

    We cannot afford to have short-term partisan political imperatives compromising our environment and our collective future. Warnings by scientists of an impending crisis have been ignored for over three decades.

    We need a vision, long term planning and new approaches for sustainable living. A dedicated taskforce of scientists and community representatives is required to address the technical and social factors outside of the political arena.

  29. joe2 says:

    “We need a vision, long term planning and new approaches for sustainable living. A dedicated taskforce of scientists and community representatives is required to address the technical and social factors outside of the political arena.”

    “Get youself a water tank,good seed spuds coz the shit is hittin the fan. They will bloody talk about it for ages and do bloody nothin wankers” says Norm.

    Please discuss.

  30. hannah says:

    http://www.rivermurray.sa.gov.au/about/board.html

    posted by Appu
    “What I don’t understand is why is it important for the farmers to keep farming? What union is looking after their interests ”

    In answer to the union bit check out the link above [its about the SA River Murray Catchment Water Management Board] and see what you notice.
    Hint #1 [#2 comes later if you need it], guess which political party the first 2 fellas belong[ed] to?

  31. joe2 says:

    Yep, got it, Hanna, if Appu doesn’t come in quick.
    “guess which political party……?????????????

    bloody……….. Greens.
    Everywhere and no commonsense.

  32. Appu, that $10 billion (spent once) is just a tad more than this country squanders annually on mulitculturalism.

    At least something useful and tangible of lasting benefit may come of the comparitively small $10 billion.

  33. hannah says:

    Well done joe2, now see if you ‘pick the occupation[s]’ of the board members for $Zim50.

  34. joe2 says:

    Stop it hannah. Just give us the now mud , without so much code. You can do it in generalisations. None of us know you.

  35. hannah says:

    Ok joe2 here ’tis..
    9 members.
    2 ex-Coalition state ministers, 1 a viticulturalist.
    Others include:
    -a dairy farmer
    -a farmer and grazier
    -a farmer and irrigator
    -a CEO of an irrigation trust.
    The union.

  36. Mug Punter says:

    The headwaters of the Murray aren’t putting much into the system. I’m told the snow failed last season and unprecedented releases from Dartmouth dam is about the only decent source for Lake Hume. See the following flickr photos of Lake Hume and the Hume Weir: http://www.flickr.com/photos/suburbanbloke/sets/72157594520887469/

    Stark and deeply concerning.

  37. The Feral Abacus says:

    hannah – I don’t think your comments on the composition of the SA River Murray Catchment Water Management Board are entirely fair.

    First, they only have jurisdiction over the tail-end of the river. Their role is more about looking after local soil erosion and salinity issues than dealing with the current problems with water allocation (which is regulated by the Murray Darling Basin Commission). So the high level of landholder involvement makes.

    Second, the Board’s Chair – David Wotton – is a former SA Environment Minister who is well-regarded in SA’s conservation sector. He’s a very good choice for the role, regardless of his political affiliations.

  38. The Feral Abacus says:

    para 2 above should conclude ‘makes sense.’

  39. hannah says:

    Maybe.
    But it was in answer to the person who asked where is the union for the farmers/irrigators.
    It shows that the river is seen primarily as a conduit for irrigators et al, they have majority representation on the board.
    Within this link:
    http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200704/s1902713.htm
    a scientist refers to the fact that the present crisis has been forecast for 20 years.
    And in all that time we have, under various govts, ignored the inevitable.
    Have you checked the status of the Coorong, dying from decades of neglect and well known to be in crisis for that length of time?
    Too much buck passing, too little action.
    Back to the cricket.

  40. Enemy Combatant says:

    Aussie food prices are set to sky-rocket due to the global warming induced drought of 07. You know, the global warming induced drought that after 11 years in office, The Rodent, his handlers and his minions couldn’t possibly have foreseen. No jobs in heeding hyperbolic histrionics from Inconvenient Truth bearers, are there? Unfortunately, for clever, national economic managers like Johnny Rodent, the drought will impact with extreme prejudice upon interest rates, releasing the dreaded Inflation Dragon. Bad electoral Feng Shui.

    Therefore, despite AquaBoy Turnbull doing his best Ester Williams in a series of breath-taking displays to help King Rat win the next election, The Rodent will require The MV Tampa, deck bestrewn with desperate human beings in the blazing sun, to be boarded by Zodiac-borne, SAS commandos somewhere around Murray Bridge, to have any chance of salvaging Benelong from the McKew/Hogg push, let alone his hold on national power for the Coalition.

    Better burrow in like good little Larvae and get that fruit and vege plot happening. There is something therapeutic beyond nutrition, getting one’s hands and feet into the soil or being ankle deep in ungulate dung doing a slomo stomp like Burt Lancaster’s stable scene in the film, “1900”. The ancestors have been at it for for thousands years. For high and medium risers, balcony potted plants can provide a thrill formerly familiar to Babylonians. Home grown organic produce will become hugely chic, as well as practical. Less time will remain for basket weaving and macrame and blogging. Stayin’ alive will supercede jive.

    Wonder how long it’ll be before Homo Sap. starts erecting dwellings that are cooled by the same principle as termite nests are in the land of the Rainbow Serpent and elsewhere. The sassy little critters do it all without electricity or any James Hardie products whatsoever. So important for our species, deep in extinction denial, to continue to demonstate our superiority over animals. Especially insects.

    Who would have thought that the Murray Darling basin would become an electoral sink. And The Rodent gets to announce the date when he’ll pull the plug and descend the gurgler. History’s cleansing flush.

  41. steve says:

    Here’s the latest morgan poll

  42. Brian says:

    The other day I heard that some irrigators had decided to forego part of their entitlement this year in order to use it or sell it for use next year, in the firm expectation that the water was there being held in storage for them. Perhaps they should have looked at the pics Mug Punter links to and drawn their own conclusions. One bloke paid $40,000 for such rights a week before said his thing. He won’t be amused if there is no water there for him.

    There seems to be some sympathy for keeping livestock alive by allowing them to drink. But it was made clear that if you were getting your cow drinking water from a channel used by crop irrigators, well stiff cheddar, you are on your own.

    Enemy Combat said:

    You know, the global warming induced drought that after 11 years in office, The Rodent, his handlers and his minions couldn’t possibly have foreseen.

    According to Clive Hamilton talking to Geraldine Doogue this morning about his new book Scorcher: The Dirty Politics of Climate Change the Government has been actively trying to slow down global action on climate change from way back. His charge is that the Rodent has been under the influence specifically of Hugh Morgan of WMC and BCA fame, who hired Ray Evans as a political operative to establish and support the Lavoisier Group and similar bodies inter alia. It seems that it is only now that power in the BCA has passed to others that some change in stance is happening in that body.

    Of course that could all be a conspiracy theory in Hamilton’s fevered mind, but having not read the book I cannot say. Nothing would surprise.

  43. steve says:

    More links here for those of us who haven’t read the book.

  44. Laura says:

    Perhaps Australians could think about eating less meat – would that help?

  45. Not really, Laura.

    Not that much beef and lamb comes from irrigated country anyway, and feedlot animals are fed from crops that don’t require irrigation.

    In any case, under current management rules, if all the beef farms shut down, the water rights will be purchased by somebody else anyway.

    There is a fair bit of dairying, too. But, again, the same comment applies. If you shut down the dairy farms, the water rights would end up being used for something else.

    As hannah and others have pointed out, the long-term solution for the Murray is taking less out of it, mainly by buying back water entitlements and, to some extent, reducing delivery losses through engineering works.

    In general, we might do the environment a favour by eating less meat. But as far as the Murray-Darling goes, it doesn’t matter a jot.

  46. Steve says:

    Robert. I’m pretty sure that the report you linked to in what the Pm was told says that feedlots are not going to be given any water once the cuts are applied.

  47. steve says:

    Page 15 of that report says that feedlots are not included in those able to water stock

  48. Brian says:

    Brian Toohey said today in the <afr that in Australia cattle and sheep acount for 12% of CO2 emissions. Figure B, Chapter 7 of the Stern Review says 5.1% of emissions world-wide come from “livestock and manure” which is more than air travel, rail and ships taken together. Every bit is going to help and we certainly shouldn’t eat more meat as our population and wealth increases. But we probably will.

    True they are working on drugs and genetics to reduce the amount of methane coming from sheep and cattle.

  49. steve says:

    Apparently steers in a feedlot need at least 30 Litres of water per day and more if it is hotter or the animals are bigger

  50. Laura says:

    Thanks Robert, I wondered when I heard the Murray-Darling stories but I wasn’t sure how much irrigation was being used for cattle feed there.

    I was kind of struck by W. announcing last week that he was praying for the Va Tech community, then next week John Howard saying we should pray for rain. Not particularly practical responses, either one.

  51. Peterc says:

    Joe2 said:

    Get youself a water tank,good seed spuds coz the shit is hittin the fan. They will bloody talk about it for ages and do bloody nothin wankers� says Norm.

    We have had 23,500 litres of water tanks installed for 5 years – we have been largely self sustainable for water until the drought bit this year and we had to add some Melbourne water. You can peruse details here

    Interestingly, their is currently no financial benefit in doing this as Melbourne water is priced so low – presumably to keep swimming pool owners happy. This is why changes to domestic water pricing – or bans on filling swimming pools – are urgently required.

    Two options are – quadruple the cost of water used in excess of realistic domestic usage level (which may be tricky to calculate based on house occupants & land size?) of implement a domestic quota trading system (as per agricultural users) with a non-tradeable quota for basic domestic usage and a tradeable extra quota for each household that the market can establish a price for. Swimming pool owners could then bid for the extra water on the market to fill their pools.

    Excess quotas would reduce if there was no water available for them.

  52. Brian says:

    Interesting site Peterc.

    In defense of swimming pool owners, which we are, evaporation can be largely cured by a good quality pool blanket, which also stops the water from overheating in the blazing summer periods.

    Mean evaporation here is about 1500mm pa, which is about 33% above mean precipitation. If you lose a net metre from a 9m x 5m pool in a dry year through evaporation you’d need 45,000 litres to top up. A lot of water.

    We can allow our pool to rise or fall about 100mm from the ideal water level.

    Last August when we had a tank installed we had to lower the water below the skimmer box because some pipes had to be rerouted. We refilled it to perhaps 25mm below ideal. Since then we haven’t put any water in at all. We’ve had 338mm of rain (against an average of 870) and the level is now a whisker above the ideal level. So we’ve gained about 25mm.

    Just once, back in Jan-Feb we looked as though the next decent storm would see us releasing water. This can mean getting out there at 2am, which is a lot of fun. It didn’t happen.

    So well-managed pools aren’t a problem in Brisvegas.

  53. Laura says:

    Peterc does the energy expended on rebuilding a house, importing appliances etc get factored into assessing it as having a low environmental impact?

  54. melaleuca says:

    Maybe we need to be less reliant on the MDB and make haste in getting Ord Stage Two up and running.
    http://www.abc.net.au/landline/content/2006/s1783984.htm

    I think Brian is right about private swimming pools. As long as you have a cover it shouldn’t be a problem. We needn’t wack on the black armband and adopt oppressive measures.

    Also pissing on your trees is a good alternative to flushing the toilet provided you don’t overdo it in the one place. My trees are thriving!

  55. fido and tiddles must go. says:

    “Perhaps Australians could think about eating less meat – would that help?”

    The therefore should also euthanase all their carnivorous pets .
    And before you think this is a joke at one time PAL ( the canned dog food ) was the single most often purchased grocery item in the world.
    Empty the pools , urine soaked natives in our scrub gardens and rock lawns, no barking dogs or native animal killing cats .

  56. hannahs great me not you says:

    less all eat less so irriagtors don’t have to use as much water to grow food for all of us people maybe people will be less obese

  57. Tiddles The Cat says:

    We know where you live, FATMG

  58. We’s not goin’ without a fight!

  59. Sheila N says:

    The Murray Darling river system, which provides the majority of our food-production, has dried up. The prime minister wants to drain the wet-lands. This will kill off millions of birds and many other species, including iconic koalas and kangaroos. We will lose even more trees. Every Australian city is looking for extreme solutions – like desalination, recycling sewerage, and new dams – to a water crisis which was completely foreseeable and avoidable.

    We are losing our extraordinary natural endowment to the spread of housing and infrastructure into agricultural land, inevitably accompanied by the expanding footprint of food and exotic fiber production into marginal lands and remaining natural habitat.

    This is largely driven by population growth in an economy which must provide secondary and tertiary employment and extractive industry to support a people too numerous to nourish themselves directly from the land. Much of that population growth is driven to service a globalised real estate investment industry, dominated by print media (Murdoch & Fairfax property dot coms) with massive interests in the global marketing of property. With every year the dependence of the wealthy on landed assets at the expense of increasing numbers of land-less, increases. This malignant industry depends on population growth in Australia to keep up demand for housing, materials and related financial services. Satisfying that artificially generated demand relies on the British originated land-use planning system which puts financially profitable land-transactions above every social and ecological value. The US system is similar. Australia needs to change to Western continental Europe’s Napoleonic system, which is more protective of social rights and does not easily re-zone for profit.

    Sheila Newman
    Population, Land-tenure and environment sociologist

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