Darling River

Submitted: Thursday, Mar 03, 2016 at 16:26
ThreadID: 131735 Views:3137 Replies:7 FollowUps:8
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Members please note that the Darling River has been decimated between the Queensland Border and Wentworth. It doesn't appear so at Wentworth because it is backed up by the Murray and the Weir.
The Murray Darling Basin Authority released water from the Menindee Lakes at a time when environmental flows were not needed in the lower lakes and Coorong. As a consequence the Menindee lakes and the Darling below Cubby Station are dry.
I urge all members to lobby the N.S.W. and Federal Government to reverse allocations for irrigation needs above Menindee and to allow environmental and Tourist flows into the Lake System at Menindee.
Menindee, Broken Hill and areas south of Menindee are dry. Cattle and wildlife graze on what was the magnificent Menindee Lakes.
Broken Hill and Menindee residents drink bore water. Unless something is done to change the mindset and greed of the huge irrigators who grow cotton the mighty Darling River Run may not be worth the drive. Leave your fishing rods at home.
Dennis Le Cornu
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Reply By: Tony H15 - Thursday, Mar 03, 2016 at 20:03

Thursday, Mar 03, 2016 at 20:03
Growing a water intensive crop like cotton in Australia is ludicrous. Probably as silly as growing rice.
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Follow Up By: MUZBRY- Life member(Vic) - Friday, Mar 04, 2016 at 21:53

Friday, Mar 04, 2016 at 21:53
Gday Tony
You seem to think that rice needs massive amounts of water, it is sown and grows much the same as wheat. It only relies on rain and is sown in paddocks.
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Follow Up By: Member - Andrew & Jen - Saturday, Mar 05, 2016 at 10:52

Saturday, Mar 05, 2016 at 10:52
Well Muzbry, I learn something everyday!

I could have sworn that on my many trips back and forth along the Sturt Hwy between Hay and Narrandera I often saw flooded rice fields next to the Murrumbidgee River. The long drive must have made me delusional! :-)

And don't mention what has happened, for example, to the Macquarie Marshes, which I think are a declared RAMSAR site, with the cotton growing. Huge turkey dams everywhere with their high evaporation and adjacent laser leveled, tree and bird life devoid, mono culture wastelands :-(

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Reply By: Member - Mark (Tamworth NSW) - Thursday, Mar 03, 2016 at 20:27

Thursday, Mar 03, 2016 at 20:27
Stopping irrigation allocations?
That may be true if they had any water to release to cotton farmers, but if you check dam levels (Keepit & Copeton) in northern NSW for the past 2 years I think you'd see there have been very few water releases for cotton.
Nothing is more important than water for sustaining life, but putting Menindee tourism or extensive grazing before the significantly greater economic benefits to a greater number of people that irrigated agriculture brings is hard to fathom.
Capped bores will sustain grazing livestock, just have a look at western NSW & Qld, saying you need the Lakes with their high evaporation rates (> 1m pa) to sustain a few thousand head of rangeland cattle is equally far fetched.
Written by someone else not involved in irrigation, but does rely on the Murray Valley basin for his drinking water.
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Follow Up By: Echucan Bob - Thursday, Mar 03, 2016 at 21:04

Thursday, Mar 03, 2016 at 21:04
From Wikipedia:

"In an average year the station uses 200,000 megalitres (7,100×106 cu ft) of water, in a good year as much as 500,000 megalitres (18,000×106 cu ft)."

"to a consortium comprising Shandong RuYi Scientific & Technological Group Co Ltd, a clothing and textile company owned by Chinese and Japanese investors, and Lempriere Group, an Australian family-owned company involved in wool trading and agricultural property management.["

Great, so the Darling River, surrounding natural lakes and wetlands, and flows into the Murray are sacrificed for a handful of jobs, and the profits of mainly overseas investors.

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Follow Up By: Motherhen - Thursday, Mar 03, 2016 at 23:17

Thursday, Mar 03, 2016 at 23:17
Yes, the water and lifeblood for much of western New South Wales sold to the Chinese for a song. The tourism industries at Menindee hung out to dry. Likewise residents and irrigators along the lower Darling.

While visitors won't be able to catch fish (other than the dead ones trapped in the dried mud), those who service tourists will be pleased to see visitors (so long as they haven't gone broke and shut their businesses). Visit Menindee now, while there is still a town; they deserve visitors and need the now all the more.


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Follow Up By: Member - Mark (Tamworth NSW) - Friday, Mar 04, 2016 at 07:38

Friday, Mar 04, 2016 at 07:38
Cubbie Station is just one ( very large) irrigator extracting Murray Darling water.
At the time Barnaby Joyce made a lot of noise about the sale of our most precious asset (water) to a state owned overseas investor, not the sale of Cubbie Station per se. Cubbie Station was in receivership prior to that sale
There has been plenty of discontent from graziers in northern NSW about not receiving natural flood flows across their floodplains as a result of Cubbie's water harvesting.
But SW Qld has had very little rain since 2012 for Cubbie to harvest any of that.
I'm not defending Cubbie Station, I just wish valid criticism's were made (such as the flood plain graziers) not people blaming Cubbie when there hasn't been any water to flow!
Take a trip in this part of the Australia and gain wider exposure than reading about one cotton farm.
Take a look at how the towns of Moree, Narrabri, Goondiwindi (to lesser extent), Wee Waa, Collarenebri have declined since significant cut backs to their water allocations (which were required), cut backs for environmental flows to various marshes in the Macquarie and Gingham marshes. But the largest restriction on their water has been due to reduced inflow to the rivers and dams

Most river irrigators in NW NSW which is the greatest contributor of water to the Darling have had no allocations for the past two years. There photos and records of paddle steamers in the Murray-Darling high & dry early last century due to poor flows, before any significant irrigation schemes. There was an article in the ABC Rural Media (which I didn't fully understand) in the past month that water was released recently from the Menindee Lakes to finish crops DOWNSTREAM of the Lakes, not upstream.
Some people seem to think there is a "tap" at the head of the Murray Darling which permanently releases a steady stream of water into it, with no variation in flow


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Reply By: Tim - Thursday, Mar 03, 2016 at 23:37

Thursday, Mar 03, 2016 at 23:37
Clearly you have no idea when the irrigators are permitted to pump from the river. The river ran dry well before cotton was ever planted out there.
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Reply By: Sigmund - Friday, Mar 04, 2016 at 11:20

Friday, Mar 04, 2016 at 11:20
Given rice and cotton, Australia is apparently a net 'exporter' of water. Unbelievable. The cost is the trashing of our inland rivers.
AnswerID: 596963

Reply By: Member - John and Val - Saturday, Mar 05, 2016 at 10:00

Saturday, Mar 05, 2016 at 10:00
Hard to know where to start on this one (or even if its worth it). The management of water flows in the Murray-Darling Basin has had (and continues to have) a long and tortured history. Witness the number of Basin Plans that have been put forward and either rejected, ignored or at best only partly implemented. In a landscape where unpredictable droughts are common, where irrigation allocations especially in the couple of decades post WWII were not infrequently made as political favours, the plans were an attempt to balance the needs of all users of basin water while fixing up some of the worst of the management issues. The fact that the basin covers 4 states and a territory who come together (if it suits them) to form the Basin Authority or whatever it has been called in the past, has not helped. The politics played by the states alone make it very difficult to get much done.

Just a few things to consider: The rivers ran dry long before there was large scale irrigation. Wetlands need periods of both wet and dry to function properly. All food that gets exported results in the export of water. Likewise we import water if we buy imported food. Tourism interests have had opportunity for input into the generations of MDB plans. Western NSW and Qld which are the main catchments for the darling have been in drought for some time so there has been little water to flow. During the Millenial drought in the MIA only a couple of growers were able to harvest a rice crop..... I could go on, but maybe thats enough to emphasise how complex the situation is. As for tourists, it may be necesary to just accept that sometimes you have to leave the fishing rods at home.

Written by someone who lives in the upper reaches of the MD basin and who had some minor involvement in the development of basin planning a few years ago.
J and V
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Reply By: Motherhen - Saturday, Mar 05, 2016 at 13:39

Saturday, Mar 05, 2016 at 13:39
To read a little of the saga of the Darling River, for subscribers to The Australian see Towns Broken by Big Dry

Not subscribers can still read the article by going to Facebook and clicking the link to the article.


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Follow Up By: LandCoaster - Saturday, Mar 05, 2016 at 21:15

Saturday, Mar 05, 2016 at 21:15
Hello Motherhen,

I can not bring myself to facebook...

Is there any mention of Lobbyist Turnbull, Twynam and Coddlemore twineing the system back in the 80's, I remember the press where up in arms about it
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Follow Up By: Motherhen - Saturday, Mar 05, 2016 at 21:18

Saturday, Mar 05, 2016 at 21:18
It is just a back door way of opening the article without paying $8 per week for a news subscription. You don't have to join Facebook to see the page and pick up the link. I reluctantly joined Facebook about a year ago with a low key presence so I could participate in a few camping and off road caravanning type groups.


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Reply By: den57 - Saturday, Mar 12, 2016 at 19:33

Saturday, Mar 12, 2016 at 19:33
I don't know if the idea is good or not but this would see a lot of employment and I know that I have seen the Burdekin dam spilling for months on end and I guess the other coastal streams could possibly be harvested.
Regulations could be put in place to ensure that the natural river course receives its normal flow along with a certain amount of flood water.
Surely the means are available to study this scheme and put it to rest one way or the other.
May need to be copied and pasted.
AnswerID: 597290

Follow Up By: Member - John and Val - Saturday, Mar 12, 2016 at 22:11

Saturday, Mar 12, 2016 at 22:11
Hi Den,
Diverting coastal rivers and turning them inland to irrigate arid lands sounds an attractive idea, but in practice there are many problems as the Snowy Scheme has shown. For starters irrigated areas in Australia invariably suffer from salinity - our soils are ancient and over millions of years have accumulated a lot of salt. Add water and that salt comes to the surface where it causes problems. Also watercourses, if they are damed, still need to have flows that mimic natural conditions. The once wild Snowy River silted up after the Eucumbene dam went in so that flow was reduced to a trickle. Its taken a lot of politicking and $$$ to reverse things even a bit. There are numerous schemes for getting water to the inland that keep popping up every so often, but they seldom address these and other problems. With our current environmental laws its doubtful if the Snowy scheme would be built today.
J and V
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