A drought so­lu­tion

Politi­cians asked to take a lead­er­ship role

Southern Riverina news - - NEWS -

Politi­cians have a chance to play a lead role in as­sist­ing drought-stricken farm­ers, sim­ply by ap­prov­ing the re­al­lo­ca­tion of stored wa­ter.

Wakool farmer Darcy Hare has been re­search­ing the stor­age of what are termed di­lu­tion flows, which is wa­ter that is held in dams to help flush salt and keep it at ac­cept­able lev­els in the Mur­ray River.

The huge vol­umes of wa­ter re­quired for this pur­pose were de­ter­mined in past eras, when salin­ity was a big prob­lem in parts of the Mur­ray-Dar­ling Basin.

But it has been sig­nif­i­cantly re­duced thanks to the in­vest­ment in salt in­ter­cep­tion schemes, land and wa­ter man­age­ment plans, plus bet­ter farm prac­tices.

‘‘As a con­se­quence, we now have wa­ter stored for di­lu­tion flows that is not needed for that pur­pose. Why wouldn’t politi­cians show gen­uine lead­er­ship and in­ves­ti­gate mak­ing some of that wa­ter avail­able to sup­port the drought ef­fort?’’ Mr Hare asked.

‘‘The Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Michael McCor­mack and many of his col­leagues are con­stantly look­ing at ways to help the farm­ing com­mu­nity dur­ing this dif­fi­cult time. The is­sue be­ing faced is in­suf­fi­cient wa­ter for grow­ing ei­ther crops, or fod­der that can be fed to starv­ing stock.

‘‘Politi­cians have been look­ing so­lu­tions — here is an ob­vi­ous one.’’

Mr Hare ex­plained that cur­rently there are 522 gi­gal­itres of di­lu­tion flows be­ing stored in Hume and Dart­mouth Dams.

The vol­umes re­quired for these flows were mod­elled on the po­ten­tial risk of salin­ity in the Mur­ray River and a tar­get was set of keep­ing salt lev­els be­low 800EC (stan­dard for drink­ing wa­ter qual­ity set by the World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion) at Mor­gan, in South Aus­tralia.

‘‘Through nu­mer­ous gov­ern­ment pro­grams and ex­pen­di­ture we have suc­cess­fully kept salt lev­els will be­low this tar­get. In fact since 2010 they’ve gen­er­ally been well be­low 400EC at Mor­gan, apart from a brief pe­riod dur­ing the 2016 floods. for

‘‘It stands to rea­son that we no longer need to store as much for di­lu­tion flows as the orig­i­nal mod­els sug­gested, so why not put this wa­ter to pro­duc­tive and pos­i­tive use as a short-term so­lu­tion?’’

Mr Hare added the drought is con­tin­u­ing to bite, es­pe­cially across NSW and Queens­land, and does not look like be­ing bro­ken any time soon.

‘‘With the Bureau of Me­te­o­rol­ogy pre­dict­ing at least an­other three months of dry con­di­tions, feed sup­plies are go­ing to get in­creas­ingly hard to find. We have to work out ways to grow fod­der and help our farm­ing com­mu­nity as pres­sure in­creases on re­tain­ing breed­ing stock – num­bers are es­ti­mated to al­ready be down 30 per cent in New South Wales alone.

‘‘With­out a spring break, core breed­ing stock will in­evitably be culled fur­ther.

‘‘An ad­di­tional is­sue for our re­gion’s farm­ers is the nar­row win­dow that re­mains to plan sum­mer crops. As time runs out, ev­ery­one is look­ing at who owns wa­ter in the stor­ages.

‘‘Ef­fec­tively us­ing the di­lu­tion flows, which are not needed for their orig­i­nal pur­pose, is a com­mon-sense so­lu­tion that politi­cians should grasp im­me­di­ately.’’

Mr Hare urged Mr McCor­mack and his po­lit­i­cal col­leagues to quickly take proac­tive steps with this short-term so­lu­tion that will help farm­ers in the NSW Mur­ray re­gion and al­low them to sup­port oth­ers in NSW and Queens­land who do not have ready ac­cess to wa­ter that is in stor­ages which were built to help drought-proof our vast land. Tay­lor Swift: Tes­se­laar Tulip Fes­ti­val: Bon Jovi: Dec 1 ................................................................. $265 Opera in the Alps (incl. Din­ner Ham­per): Avalon Air­show: EVITA: Mar 3................ $130 Ad, $120 Con, $80 child Feb 5, 12 & 19 (early evening)................................ $160 Daniel O’Don­nell: Feb 25 .................................................. $150 Mel­bourne Flower & Gar­den Show: Muriel’s Wed­ding: Jer­sey Boys: Oct 26 ........................................................... $215 Oct 11 .......................................... $80 Jan 19 ............. $185 Mar 30 ....................... $80 May 15, 22 & 29, June 12 ................... $150 May 22 & 29, Jun 5 & 12 ............................. $140

Paul Mass­ing­ham and Sasha Wood are still cel­e­brat­ing the Ea­gles’ vic­tory on Satur­day.

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