Join our strong South Australian voices on the River

14 Mar 2012

Thank you for sharing how the drought affected you (below) so we can share this with the Murray Darling Basin Authority. 

We will come back to you with our final submission in April this year. So stay posted!

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36 comments

  • Nardine Habner
    over 2 years ago

    Our family moved to Goolwa, at the end of the Murray River, almost 11 years ago. My first memories of the Murray River were of a strong, dominating water body, which demanded respect and instilled a certain amount of fear for those contemplating entering or crossing it.

    The millennium drought revealed how quickly this majestic river could be transformed into a weak trickle of water, unable to run its full course to the sea. The wide expanse of river at Goolwa became just a thin channel, bordered by sandy plains harbouring harmful acid sulphate soils. Goolwa had fallen victim to Australia's mismanagement of our river system. The river was dying, the land becoming toxic - and our home town was dying. The speed and extent of the river's decline saddened me most.

    We must remember how close this river system was to collapse. The MDBP is Australia's chance to ensure this river system remains healthy. We must acknowledge the mistakes made overseas in water management (such as the Aral Sea) and learn from this. We must understand that we need a healthy river to support healthy river communities. The science suggests that 2750 billion litres is not enough to support a healthy river system. I do not support the MDBP in its current form, and propose that planners focus on the needs of the river for the benefit of all.

    YourSAy Official
    over 2 years ago

    Nardine, this is a most touching story - thank you so much for taking the time to share it with us.

  • Edward Mark
    over 2 years ago

    I consider what the plan completely overlooks is the natural cycle of the system, as a "towny" whose parents owned a "shack" I played in the 56 flood waters and also fished in them. Every 4 years without fail the floods would come just over the floodplain, about knee deep and flush the sytem. River gums would flower and the ecosystem would regenerate, the water would smell different not like some septic drainage channel. Time to think laterally is it viable to grow european water hungry produce in the dryest continent in the world, seems self defeating to me. Local knowledge, locally grown native produce uses less water and as a society we just might be a damn sight healthier, if it can't be returned to it's natural cycle then at least mimic it.

    YourSAy Official
    over 2 years ago

    Thank you Edward for your thoughtful comment which we will pass on to the Premier. Best wishes and thanks for posting!

  • Stephen Packer
    over 2 years ago

    No matter which side of the irrigation fence you are on, we need to ensure the states at the start of the river do not take more than they should to maintain an economy and environment downstream. no excuses. I think we are all sick of hearing the eastern state centric arguments and need to think of Australia not our own back yard only.

    cheers

    YourSAy Official
    over 2 years ago

    Good points there Stephen - thanks for commenting.

  • kelvin hurrell
    over 2 years ago

    You asked for my story. I am a South Australian - no sub titles. Retired. I worked in the fertilizer industry for 41 years. From day 1 it was emphasized that our future was inextricably aligned to the fortunes of rural Australia including our jobs. It did not take long for that to become apparent and to understand the effects on rural people of droughts, too much rain actions by Govt like the deletion of the phosphate bounty and nitrogenous fertilizers subsidy, mice and locusts,cartage etc.

    I am dismayed to see Don Henry and others still talking about the plan returning 2750 gig to the river. (The Advertiser yesterday and today) You really must publically correct this misconception. It surely will wake some people up and stop criticising each other in SA and direct their comments to where they belong.

    YourSAy Official
    over 2 years ago

    We understand that the river means jobs and your story is well put. Thanks for sharing Kelvin.

  • Tim Kelly
    almost 3 years ago

    My story about the Murray is that of admiration. From working out of the Murray Bridge workshops on the major pumping systems for Adelaide, and irrigation return pumps I have come to appreciate how important this system is for South Australia. Travelling across eastern Australia from the Great Dividing Range and across the hills and plains I see how the system underpins communities and a vast array or river and wetland environments.

    Scientists from the Wentworth Group and Goyder Institute have in my view raised serious concerns that the 2750 GL return will not be enough for a healthy working system.

    For years, the inability to deliver adequate flows through the river system resulted in the need for continual dredging of the Murray Mouth, the virtual collapse of the Coorong to support much of its birdlife, low water levels and unusable water quality in Lake Albert and Lake Alexandrina, high salinity, exposure of acid sulphate soils, inability of lower lake communities to access water, drying of wetlands, loss of mature red gum forests, bank cracking and slumping and the list goes on. As a Climate Project presenter, I also heard first hand from irrigators who were experiencing a massive reduction in their allocations during this time.

    For fairness and the environment where the change is made to fix the health of the system it must work. It must deliver a healthy working river system that is more resilient in times of low intake and drought.

    YourSAy Official
    almost 3 years ago

    Thank you Tim for taking the time to share your thoughts with us.

  • Silver Moon
    almost 3 years ago

    Here’s my personal story.
    I live on a farm by the Finniss River. In a spring fed pool in the river there are lots of different native fish. They have survived there because there is a waterfall that stops the carp coming up from the Murray and eating them all. Some of them are very rare.
    We have always known this pool as being a “permanent” pool but during the drought there was that long nasty heatwave that seemed to go on forever.
    What happened was that so many people were pumping out of the aquifer that the river just sank into the ground. It was like you had pulled a plug out of the bath.
    Luckily we saw it happening and the last fish were saved in a single bucket before the river dried out.
    We were scared that suddenly we had the responsibility of looking after whole species of fish. So we went around and talked to the neighbours and asked them to stop watering or at least pull back to see if we could get the river back. Most of the irrigators did reduce their watering.
    This story shows two things- First that irrigators will respond positively if we can clearly see that there is a problem. Second that the authorities are not taking groundwater properly into account with their water allocation plans.
    It is clear that the Murray Darling Basin plan doesn’t understand that ground water and surface water have to be treated in the same way, that everything is connected.

    YourSAy Official
    almost 3 years ago

    Silver Moon, your contributions are great - thanks!

  • kelvin hurrell
    almost 3 years ago

    Yvonne I don't understand why people keep talking about 2750 gig being returned to the river if the proposed plan is implemented. The figure is 1468 gig with 400 gig being a very "rubbery " figure indeed. The rest (1068 gig) according to Mr. Knowles being returned at the rate of 153 gig per year until 2019. In the meantime our fellow Australians from the eastern states are going to send us 2 million tonnes of salt per year with which to contend. SA does not want it both ways. SA just wants a fair go.

  • Yvonne Smith
    almost 3 years ago

    Am I the only one having trouble editing errors when I comment? You will have to put up with the errors I am afraid.
    SA must be very careful what we wish for. To expect more then 2750 for the environment means more water taken from our irrigators, in this state and others. We expect it both ways and we won't get it, and we look ridiculous asking. Sure we should be rewarded for caps and infrastructure improvements, but to expect more water for the environment and less taken from irrigators is not likely.
    What I argue, and have done for a long time, is how can we accept that the guide figure of between 3000 and 7000gl is right because its science, and then quesion that same science revised which suggests 2750gl is enough.
    The science behind this issue is the key, and any scientist knows that the facts are variable, not exact, and based on many assumptions. Therefore they are inherently inaccurate. That doesn't mean we ignore it, but we use it as a tool.
    Please don't ask for more than 2750gl to be taken for the environment, manage it better instead. Regulate backwaters, dry some up, plant the right trees in the right areas and stop trying to support the wrong flora. As it stands, irrigaors will hurt from the 2750 being taken from the system, and many cannot take any more.

    Silver Moon
    almost 3 years ago

    Dear Yvonne,
    I think you have to careful about your support of irrigators. A lot of us who irrigate are growing crops that noone really needs - like winegrapes, cotton etc. Its not the job of any farmer to be bleeding the country dry.
    Every irrigator in the country knew from day one of their business that the water was goin to run out. We took a conscious business risk. Why should the government prop up our bad business practice? Think of all the businesses in the city that are unsustainable - we dont think the government should prop them up do we?
    What we need is the state and federal governments to be creating pathways for farmers to shift to sustainable practice. Then there wont be any problem with water.
    Our forefathers and foremothers said - If you look after the farm, the farm will look after you. Thats a much better way of farming.

    YourSAy Official
    over 2 years ago

    Thanks Yvonne and Silver Moon - so many perspectives on this issue - be sure we are listening to them all.

  • YourSAy Official
    almost 3 years ago

    Thanks all for your comments. This is a really interesting discussion about the importance of water to our state. We want our submission to the Murray Darling Basin Authority to be the strongest it can be. This means a discussion of the science but as importantly raising awareness about how low flows in the Murray have affected South Australians. Hence we are wanting your personal stories – about how you were affected by the drought just a few years ago."

  • Silver Moon
    almost 3 years ago

    The weirdest bit of the Murray darling Basin plan is in chapter 6. In 6.13 they say that water users can take up to 20% more water than they are allocated. What planet do these people live on? If you take more than 20% you just need to have an excuse!!!! "Oh I forgot and left the hose on !!!!"
    There is no mention of penalties. Thats because there arent any.
    I think for evry bucket of water you take beyond your allocation you should be paying a fine of double the market value of that water and the money goes to the fund for buying water for the environment.

    YourSAy Official
    almost 3 years ago

    Thanks for the comment Silver Moon

  • kelvin hurrell
    almost 3 years ago

    Re my last post. any person wanting to check my figures can go to mdba.gov.au click on south australia and find the video entitled More Than Just A Volume Of Water Part 2 a speech given in the eastern states by Mr. Craig Knowles.
    It should also be noted that SA has to contribute a further 22 gig to the environmental flows AT LEAST.

    I am disappointed to read comments from various South Australians criticising other South Australians about things like desal plants, watering gardens, greedy irrigators et al. These complaints are unreasonable and pin prick stuff. It is like driving a car and looking at the bonnet of the car instead of lifting the eyes and looking into the distance. South Australia is the driest state in Australia. South Australia is 96% of the size of Victoria and NSW combined near as damn it to the same size, yet those two states want 90% of the allowable water with SA getting 5%. Both of these states have good sources of water from other areas. They have both abused the river, over populated it, denied SA a Fair share and now want SA to be further squeezed.

    Cotton is now being grown right down to Victoria. A Grower interviewed on a recent TV program said he was changing to Cotton solely for the money. Does anybody think he cares about the irrigators,fishermen, dairy farmers,tourist operators of South Australia or feeding our population and helping others in the world to be fed? Wake up SA we need to be united.
    Is there really a nation called Australia?

    YourSAy Official
    almost 3 years ago

    Thanks for the comment Kelvin, be good to hear your personal story so we can incude this in the submission to the MDBA. :)

  • kelvin hurrell
    almost 3 years ago

    When are South Australians going to realise that the proposed plan "IS NOT" going to return 2750 gig to the Murray. Mr Knowles has made it clear that 1282 gig will be deducted from this figure leaving 1468 gig ONLY. The 1282 was apparently returned between 2009 and 2011 and is therefore "apparently" already flowing out to sea. in addition he is making allowances for 400 gig which is apparently going to be saved by infrastructure "improvements" leaving ONLY 1068 gig at 153 gig additional per year to be returned by "wait for it " 2019. The SA Government needs to sing this from the treetops to ensure everybody understands Mr. Knowles style of accounting. Remember he is a NSW politician. A leopard does not change its spots.

    Mr Burke is saying that "apparently" 500 gig may be returned to the river. Just think about that. The eastern states are prepared to let SA have for irrigation approximately the same amount of water as the eastern states are currently wasting. This about 100 gig less than we are currently getting. Under the proposed plan SA will get about 5% of the total allowable extraction and the eastern states 90%. We were getting 7% and the east 88%. Think about that. There is going to be less water taken out of the Murray and SA is to get a smaller percentage of it.

    Senator Joyce, Mr. Crean,Mr. Burke, Mr Windsor and others have come to SA "Singing from the same 'Song Sheet'. We can't favor one state over another. Oh Yeah! The figures above show who is being favored.

  • Matthew Tonkin
    almost 3 years ago

    Why don't we challenge the other states to a Carp hunting competition? Schools throughout the nation are to compete for the most carp caught by weight, and also the biggest carp caught. Competition would have set periods of catching say 1 day, 3 day and 5 day, creating different classes of competition. Utilizing varying sites along the river, increasing tourism (short and long term), perfect for year 11/12 camp, incorporating educating the youth about the importance of the river as a system, ecosystems (ie. the carp is an introduced species), team spirit, national unity. It would ideally also reduce carp numbers dramatically....
    Educating the nation on the river system is key to a consensus.

    YourSAy Official
    almost 3 years ago

    Innovative idea Matthew.

  • Anonymous Anonymous
    almost 3 years ago

    I agree with Faith. Why should we taxpayers have to fork out for a costly desalination plant when the water in the River should be shared?

  • Jay Weatherill
    almost 3 years ago

    Thanks for your comments so far. It's great to hear from SA people from the West Coast to Murray Bridge, from city and country, getting behind the River. Please keep the comments coming.
    Jay.

  • Dianne Pennington
    almost 3 years ago

    I am a West Coast person I have always been told ( and told off )on how to conserve and reserve the resourses around me. I spent 20 years in Adelaide and found the River a wonderfull experience, bringing up my children to a weekend away next to the river. sadly seeing it deplete over the years. I had a feeling that somethink or somebody was holding back this vast amount of water and it became to dangerous to jump of the jetty with our children. Only to find out about water levys then water restrictions. Im only hoping all the water up stream is allowed to flow on its natural course down. Who are our main consumers of the Murray and What has changed since 1968. IRRIGATION and greedy people. I have since returned to the West Coast, brought 2 gigantic water tanks and my family and I have rain water out of our taps. My Children will now be taught about conserving. Thankyou

    YourSAy Official
    almost 3 years ago

    Thanks for providing us with a West Coast perspective on this important issue Dianne.

  • Glen Jones
    almost 3 years ago

    BOATING INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION of SOUTH AUSTRALIA

    We employ 3000 in this State. Sadly, we can be overlooked as stakeholders.
    In SA, over 40 “local communities” which rely on tourism/leisure along the River and Lakes & the Coorong were directly and most seriously negatively impacted by the recent long lasting drought.
    We have worked with all “drought” affected sectors and with those whose speciality is the environment.
    We all know and agree on what we need.
    We in this industry are not silver tailed boaties (whatever they are).
    We are small, often family owned businesses.
    Boat building, houseboat hire/charter, cruising people, marinas, slipways,
    We employ repair/maintenance people, numerous trades, engineers and builders and apprentices.
    We’re into providing safe, happy, healthy, environmentally friendly holidays and leisure for everyone.
    We, with our holiday maker clients and closely related industries, support the Murray and Lakes’ local produce, the pubs & restaurants, the B&Bs, the caravan parks, the groceries and takeaway shops and the ATMs.
    We need happy, healthy, thriving communities
    We need good environmental conditions.
    We need good quality water in acceptable quantities.
    A naturally open Murray Mouth, all the time, will provide this.
    A naturally open Murray Mouth, always, also provides minimum, acceptable water levels Hume to the Mouth. It guarantees the flushing of the salt and the other toxic elements.
    It protects the Coorong
    Please Mr Prem

  • Faith Cook
    almost 3 years ago

    Dear Jay Weatherill,

    Thank-you for the opportunity to talk about the impact of the drought on the SA portion of the River Murray.

    From an urban perspective, I believe the emergency of the drought brought water the to forefront of people's minds. It helped us think about where our water comes from. We started the journey toward Adelaide being independent of the River for water.

    Unfortunately, it also brought on the knee-jerk reaction of the Desal Plant. I believe that a more sustainable option, such as stormwater ASR or sewage reuse would have been better, longer term solutions. Now that the pressure is off, we are unlikely to see these things implemented in a coordinated way, particularly given the policy restrictions on domestic implementation of these water supplies.

    From a catchment management perspective, the drought also led to a lot of emergency responses. It took the focus off dryland salinity actions (which result in less salt entering the Murray and more sustainable agriculture) and focused it almost entirely on short term water security and restoration of the Lower Lakes. Both of these aspects are important and the work on the Lower Lakes is amazing, however a slower, more sustained management of these issues would have improved financial efficiency while providing the community more reliable support.

    It takes time to get the community on side and to deliver the best possible outcomes, for the lowest possible price.

    Regards,

    Faith Cook

  • sharon smith
    almost 3 years ago

    The drought brought our suburban home dying gardens and continuous dust being blown in from the country areas resulting in continual cleaning and an exacerbation of me and my pets allergies. Seeing photos and newsreals of lambs being abandoned by their mothers because of thirst and starvation on the farms broke my heart. I remember farmers feeding their sheep oranges because that's all that was available. If the eastern states weren't so greedy growing inapprorpriate crops like cotton and rice this drought might not have had such a huge impact on South Australia. I still keep the bu kets in our shower because of teh cost of water and because we know just how prescious it is.

  • Chelsea Dix
    almost 3 years ago

    Hi Premier,

    I am from a 5th generation pioneering family in Renmark in the Riverland. Unfortunately over the past 5 years my family has needed to move away due to the water crisis with the fear of losing jobs. In the RIVERland all towns are solely reliant on the river as the name suggests. Without the correct water allocations the ‘fruit bowl’ will die and we will find ourselves eating more fruit and veg from overseas than we do now.
    It is hard to come to terms with moving away from everything you know, leaving your family home behind, leaving your friends and family behind to start a new life where you can get a job not reliant on whether there will or will not be water.
    When I read articles a few years ago about people complaining to the State Government about not being able to water their gardens it made me so angry. Riverlanders are getting bad prices for fruit which has only been grown because another crop has been sacrificed. Blockies are going into massive debt which they did not have, trying to buy water just to keep trees alive, not even to produce fruit. While an hour and a half away on the Victorian side of the border were getting double the water allocation that SA is. I cannot believe that in this great country the river is still managed state by state. It truly is a joke!

    Please help the beautiful Riverland and its communities. There are many locals fighting for what is right.

    Regards

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