COOPER CREEK and LAKE EYRE FIASCO BREWING

Submitted: Saturday, Mar 02, 2013 at 11:02
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The SMH has reported on plans in Qld to extract water for irrigation/mining on Western Qld's iconic rivers. Link here: SMH article
As it is with a very poor wet in 2012/13 Lake Eyre is bone dry. Link to LEYC LEYC So all the tourists who took a joyflight in the last 4 years to see water in it can now fly over and see nothing but glistening white salt. A minor flood is moving down the Cooper to reach Durham Downs next week then Nappa Merrie a week later and eventually the Innamincka causeway. Unless the wet kicks in late, none of this water will reach the lake but just evaporate or just reach Coongie Lakes.
Similarly the Diamantina at Birdsville has had no flow since Sept. There's a flow at Diamantina Lakes but it will be over a fortnight until any arrives at Birdsville and then it has to get through Goyder Lagoon.... W
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Reply By: rocco2010 - Saturday, Mar 02, 2013 at 12:11

Saturday, Mar 02, 2013 at 12:11
Gidday

When I read stories like this I am always reminded of the old Indian saying:

“Only after the last tree has been cut down, Only after the last river has been poisoned, Only after the last fish has been caught, Only then will you find that money cannot be eaten."

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Reply By: Bob Y. - Qld - Saturday, Mar 02, 2013 at 14:57

Saturday, Mar 02, 2013 at 14:57
Warrie,

Thanks for the link to SMH article. I didn't know the meeting was on until after I'd left Longreach. Might have gone if I'd known earlier.

I suggest the same people that were at this meeting would be many of the ones who rallied when Keating threatened to put a World Heritage listing over the LEB. They're all a lot older, but far more wiser, and with highly improved communication skills, so this won't go down with out a big fight.

I was always amazed to watch the Diamantina in flood, even just an average flood, and see all that water flow past, then hear some months later that it barely got to lake Eyre, let alone partially filling it. Think many people see this too, and say "all that water going to waste etc etc" when it is filling waterholes, flooding into swamps and depressions, and keeping the ecology of the river system in fine shape.

I'd suggest that the current flood at the Lakes will take more like 6 weeks to get to Birdsville too. Probably end up as not much more than a trickle there too?

Thanks for posting this Warrie,

Bob.

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Can't remember most of it.

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Follow Up By: Bob Y. - Qld - Saturday, Mar 02, 2013 at 16:33

Saturday, Mar 02, 2013 at 16:33
Warrie,

I neglected to mention above that the fight to save the Cooper from irrigation at "Currareva", just north of Windorah, was won by many of the people involved in this latest meeting.

Bob.

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Follow Up By: Member - Warrie (NSW) - Sunday, Mar 03, 2013 at 10:20

Sunday, Mar 03, 2013 at 10:20
Hi Bob, it's a rough guess from me as to when the Diamantina flow will reach Birdsville. This link here will give you live and historic data.Diamantina
After 4 wet years and good flows 2013 would be against the odds to have a big flood at this stage. Anyway we can check to see when the surge gets to Birdsville. We were there in 2009 with the Old Diamantina River Crossing easily traversed. Link here.Old crossing Hope to be back in June...W
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Follow Up By: Member - Warrie (NSW) - Sunday, Mar 03, 2013 at 10:43

Sunday, Mar 03, 2013 at 10:43
Found the link to Qld DERM site with flows at Diamantina Lakes. LinkDia Lakes Flood reached there on 18th Feb and it has to travel over 350km to B'ville. It only got to 80 cumecs and is down to 55 already. With evaporation, ponding and soaking and all that Channel country to braid and meander through it's a VERY rough guess. When the Cooper finally cut the Birdsville Track in 2010 it was filling all those billabongs and swamps as you said and took much longer than anticipated. So maybe Easter for a flush at Birdsville.....W
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Reply By: bigmarkc - Sunday, Mar 03, 2013 at 10:06

Sunday, Mar 03, 2013 at 10:06
This is so bloody distressing Im stuck for words....
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Reply By: Lyn W3 - Sunday, Mar 03, 2013 at 10:26

Sunday, Mar 03, 2013 at 10:26
Interesting article but........

Why stop at mining and irrigation, surely grazing cattle, camels, pigs, donkeys, rabbits and feral animals have had a greater adverse effect on the environment than possible relatively small scale mining and irrigation could ever have.
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Follow Up By: Rockape - Sunday, Mar 03, 2013 at 10:52

Sunday, Mar 03, 2013 at 10:52
You might just be surprised at the amount of water a mine uses.

Often way past their water allocation and they don't even get a warning.

The only time they get concerned is when their bores start to run dry. A lot of the water is left to evaporate in the tails dams as it just can't be used anymore due to the amount of reagents and ph in. It is really something to see a full 20" pipe running 24 hours a day into a raw water dam.

Putting it bluntly. It would kill a wild dog at 100 paces.

Irrigation in that country would be disastrous considering it is bordering on semi desert. Murray/Darling here we go again.

We have pigs, rabbits, donkeys, camels and the rest. We have already stuffed up there, so now is the time not to make another mistake.

RA.

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Follow Up By: rocco2010 - Sunday, Mar 03, 2013 at 11:15

Sunday, Mar 03, 2013 at 11:15
Gidday

Sure it would be great if there had been no grazing and no ferals and we could see this country as it was 200 years ago. But we can't . What we can do is save what we have. These are said to be the last free running desert rivers in the world, the world! There are probably people who think small scale mining in Antarctica is ok too.

Cheers
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Follow Up By: Bazooka - Sunday, Mar 03, 2013 at 13:15

Sunday, Mar 03, 2013 at 13:15
I agree RA. In many ways mining is not paying it's way in this country, nor is it paying proper costs for the water it extracts from surface water sources and aquifers. This will become evident over the next few decades - it's a slow burn. Both governments and miners are responsible for that situation. The MDB has shown us exactly what happens when continuous and expanding "small scale" resouce utilisation is taken for granted and sold off by ignorant state governments. Even in plague proportions ferals will do far less damage to our environments than humans do. They are also far easier to control once they have toeholds - as we can see from the responses to MDBC reports in recent times.
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Reply By: rocco2010 - Sunday, Mar 03, 2013 at 11:23

Sunday, Mar 03, 2013 at 11:23
Gidday

Might be timely here to put in a plug for The Dust Bowl, a series that started on SBS on Friday night. Four parter by the renowned American film maker ken burns, it tells the story of the Oklahoma dust bowl, one of the worst ecological disasters in US history. It is kinda spooky listening to the words of the spruikers of the time, eerily similar to people today who believe that there is no river that should not be dammed, no land that should not be cleared. If you missed episode one you can watch it via the SBS site.

Cheers
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Reply By: Member - John and Val - Sunday, Mar 03, 2013 at 14:00

Sunday, Mar 03, 2013 at 14:00
There is a link here to the Lake Eyre Basin website.

I think Queensland is playing blatant politics here. Quote "Under the terms of the Lake Eyre Basin (LEB) Intergovernmental Agreement, the Australian, Queensland,South Australian and Northern Territory governments are working together to protect and manage the Lake Eyre Basin’s water and related natural resources. " That means (I hope) that all states and the Commonwealth would have to sign off before something like water extraction for irrigation could happen.

Here is a link to the 2012 ministerial report to the LEB community.

I think that politicians might (just might) have learned something from the Murray Darling Basin fiasco, but vigilance is always needed to ensure that vested interests dont manipulate things, as politicians' memories can be very short at times.

Years ago I had a bit of involvement in some of the early planning work that was done to try to sort out the MDB mess of over-allocation of water liscences etc. That work was very extensive and involved endless community consultation and involvement. Hence I can scarcely believe it when some vested interests now try to claim that they have had plans thrust upon them, too little consultation etc. I translate that as meaning "we haven't got what we want". It could happen again.
Just my 2 cents worth,
Cheers,
Val
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Follow Up By: rocco2010 - Sunday, Mar 03, 2013 at 14:36

Sunday, Mar 03, 2013 at 14:36
Gidday Val

I wish I could share your optimism that politicians might have learnt from the past. Living in Western Australia will get the full on "mining is great" message morning noon and night.

As an aside can I say I enjoy your blog of your travels through WA. Like you i have an interest in native flora (but not your knowledge) so I appreciate your photos. my opportunities for travel are still limited by work commitments so it is good to be able to see some of these things from the comfort of home. My day will come, eventually

Cheers

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Follow Up By: Member - John and Val - Sunday, Mar 03, 2013 at 17:02

Sunday, Mar 03, 2013 at 17:02
Hi Rocco,

I wouldn't say I was really optimistic about politicians learning - after all the new ones that come in usually have a lot of learning to do, and the old ones who manage to hang around listen to too many squeaky wheels. The bureaucrats do stay around rather longer to ensure some "corporate memory" in the departments that advise the pollies. Every so often when an election is looming someone gets a bright idea about how to solve all our water problems, the idea gets a bit of media attention for a while then it all goes quiet again. Ho hum.

Realistically I cant see any real solution to most of the big environmental issues unless and until we have fewer people on the planet. I'm not holding my breath on that one.

Thank you for your kind comments about our blogs. We enjoy doing them, its nice to know they give others some pleasure.

Cheers,

Val
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Reply By: Rockape - Sunday, Mar 03, 2013 at 14:42

Sunday, Mar 03, 2013 at 14:42
From a person who made a living from mining I have a fair idea what has and still goes on.

Here is a quote from the Mackay Mercury. Although this is an unusual event due to flooding the miners just went ahead and released water into the streams.

FLOODED mines have been releasing water into rivers and streams without permission for years, with government departments finding at least 78 environmental breaches from Central Queensland coal sites since 2010.

People seem to get all concerned about cyanide but it is not much of a worry at all. What is the worry is the other chemicals and runoff from the sulphide ore and overburden.

Have a look at the Dee River at Mt Morgan what a disaster. The Jaba River in Bougainville.
Ok tedi and the Fly River. Mt Isa, lead levels and the acid rain that killed all the trees for miles west of the Isa. Both of these problems have been addressed now but only through intervention of the media and then governments being forced to do something. Mines that have gone broke and left a hugh cleanup bill. Most of the time it doesn't happen. The dam that Placer left at Kidston that took the government bulk money to fix.
Read the book "The River of Tears" about Rio.

The most dangerous thing for me in mining, was the decisions of some upper management and some mine engineers through greed. So these are the people we trust to do the right thing. Ha!

Here is a statement from a high up mine exc. We don't have approval to divert the river for the open cut but if we bellow loud enough we will get it.

I would often here the words "we are good corporate citizens" and work to a company charter. What a load of crap that was. All publicity was generated to show them in a wonderful light, while in the background all that exists is greed and deception.

As I said earlier the amount of water used is staggering and that is from a resource that is in the hands of the gods.

Rant over. I have now lost a bit of my anger. At least people now know how to crank me up.

Subdued RA.

The start of the Diamantina River in the Kirby Range.





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Follow Up By: Lyn W3 - Sunday, Mar 03, 2013 at 15:42

Sunday, Mar 03, 2013 at 15:42
Not trying to be critical of you RA but you have made a decision to hold out you hand every month and receive a pay cheque from the mining industry.

Farmers in the MDB were just trying to do the same, ie get a return on investment.
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Reply By: Rockape - Sunday, Mar 03, 2013 at 16:26

Sunday, Mar 03, 2013 at 16:26
Mate,
no offence taken. But I will answer you.

I am not anti mining/farmers as we all use their products and produce. in fact I have great empathy for farmers and cattle producers having worked with both wheat and sheep.

What I am is anti bull bleep , from vested interests that don't want to know about the future legacy of Australia, only the profits from greed. I am not going into specifics but have seen events in the mining industry that still send a shiver down my spine.

The catch cry in mining is more tonnes, more tonnes and we don't care if we send a greater percentage minerals to the tails dam and use much more water. We just want more, more, more tonnes through at any cost to exceed budget. Rape and pillage at the end of the financial year endangering both workers and wasting natural resources.

One thing is I never held my hand out, I worked for everything I received. Much of that time in very bad conditions. I don't whinge about that, it was my choice.

As for the MDB. They knew what would happen with salt when they first started the irrigation scheme.

I gotta unwind that spring,

All the best,
RA.

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Follow Up By: Member - John and Val - Sunday, Mar 03, 2013 at 17:18

Sunday, Mar 03, 2013 at 17:18
Hi RA,

I hear what you're saying but I doubt that "vested interests that don't want to know about the future legacy of Australia, only the profits from greed" is confined to the mining - or any other - enterprise sector. Mores the pity, but greed is part of the human condition.

Cheers,

Val
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Follow Up By: Member - Andrew & Jen - Tuesday, Mar 05, 2013 at 17:12

Tuesday, Mar 05, 2013 at 17:12
Hullo Val

The whole issue of the despoilation of our ecosystem for short term gain despite significant medium and long term negative impacts concerns me greatly. And you are right, mining is but one of the sectors that have taken this to an art form. You might recall I mentioned in a post some time back the book "Rich Land, Waste Land" by Sharyn Munro - truly shocking stuff.

But this response is more about your last sentence in which you said that "but greed is part of the human condition". I guess my perspective is that it is part of the human condition for SOME people only. Neither Jen nor I can think of any of our friends or colleagues who are greedy, nor do we see much of it our immediate community. Indeed, to the contrary; spontaneous generosity, sharing, helping - for no monetary reward - is all around us and this behaviour often generates more, bringing out the best in people.

However, there is no doubt that there is a significant minority of people in society who are greedy and that there is a culture of greed in many sectors and organisations, as demonstrated by their actions and despite their rhetoric and spin. Greed is a negative characteristic (after all, it is one of the seven deadly sins! :) and in my experience, very few greedy people are happy, at least at a deep level.

Cheers
Andrew
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Follow Up By: Member - John and Val - Tuesday, Mar 05, 2013 at 17:46

Tuesday, Mar 05, 2013 at 17:46
Hi Andrew,
I was speaking generally about greed - after all greed didn't get to be labelled as one of the 7 deadly sins for no reason.

I agree that in our mostly comfortable society we as individuals try not to be greedy, don't have to consort with greedy people, and our personal values would probably exclude them as friends. But its still there surely, and I would suggest that it would only take the right set of extreme conditions to bring out greed (to a greater or lesser extent) in most of us. Its most obvious in a minority, I agree, but that greedy minority can have a big impact.

Cheers,

Val
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Follow Up By: Member - Andrew & Jen - Tuesday, Mar 05, 2013 at 18:05

Tuesday, Mar 05, 2013 at 18:05
Hullo Val

If we continue this coversation we might soon be involved in Philosophy and/or Psychology 101 :-)

One point though in closing. Some of Jen's poorest clients, people who are in many respects on the "bones of their arse" - for example they put away one can of food per week so that they can go a camping holiday once a year over the New Year - are some of the most generous people you could hope to meet. First to donate what they can to others in a crisis, give their time in an emergency, etc.

OTOH, what you label as greed in a crisis is extreme behaviour associated with survival - Lord of the Flies stuff - and thankfully we are not there yet. Although if we continue as we are, we may well be heading that way :-(

Cheers
Andrew
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Follow Up By: Member - John and Val - Tuesday, Mar 05, 2013 at 20:00

Tuesday, Mar 05, 2013 at 20:00
Agree Andrew, a few thousand years of civilisation has produced some people who really are "civilised" in the best sense of the word - generous, kind, compassiounate and so on.

But prior to civilisation I would argue that greed (or maybe it could be labelled competitiveness) had great survival value - in an evolutionary sense - allowing certain individuals to survive and reproduce by getting that little bit extra food, warmth or whatever they needed to survive. If that proposition is in fact true, then it follows that all of us now have inherited in our genes some capacity for greed. How those genes express themselves would depend very much on circumstances....

Anyway, all this is pretty deep and we are now way way OT.

Sometime if we happen to enjoy a campfire together (which would be good) we can open a bottle of wine, enjoy the coals and solve the world's problems!

Cheers,

Val

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