Tag Archives: Murray River

Australia and water management a similar issue to the Colorado River in the USA

Some time ago I wrote a blog on the issues of bad water management in Australia. A country that many believe is one of the driest in the world. In fact Australia has one of the largest catchments on the globe of fresh water in the Great Artesian Basin covering a third of the country.

Australia the Great Artesian Basin covers a third of the country
Australia the Great Artesian Basin covers a third of the country

The Artesian Basin can be mapped from the top north through Queensland into New South Wales and the Northern Territory. Yet water from the Darling, Murray river system one of the greatest river basins in the world is being plundered. This water system covers 3,375 Kilometers (2,097 miles) in length. The  Darling, Murray basin spreads out over 1,061,469 sq Km (409,835 sq ml). Water is being pumped out of this great river system at an alarming rate an example is Cubbie station Queensland the largest irrigation property in the southern hemisphere damming off from the Darling river system more water than is in Sydney harbour. This water theft continues along the entire system into South Australia with large properties pumping these great rivers dry in many cases to irrigate crops that are not natural to the country, cotton being one such crop. This mismanagement is placing pressure on the natural environment and indigenous commodities. In the 1800s and early 1900s this great river system was alive with water traffic, steamers carried passengers, wool and grain .

Australia Darling river transport
Australia Darling river transport
Wilcannia on the Darling River NSW today -image Shane Aurousseau
Wilcannia on the Darling River NSW today -image Shane Aurousseau

Today especially the Darling river it is lucky if a rubber bath duck could navigate the system. Management of the Artisian basin would not only take pressure off the great systems of the Darling and Murray it would also open the potential of the great Australian inland. The plundering of the two great rivers of Australia in currently a major issue of anger towards the federal and state governments especially from the smaller property stations that need fresh water irrigation along the system. There is also anger from the aboriginal community who own many of the river bank rights in Australia. There is a great feeling in the Aboriginal community that the natural environment is being plundered by an uncaring ethnic European government thus widening the gap between these two indigenous groups.

1918-lancahire-lass-and-barge-darling-river
1918-lancahire-lass-and-barge-darling-river
Australia Belswick Merino Stud Condobolin NSW
Australia Belswick Merino Stud Condobolin NSW
Darling River today - image Shane Aurousseau
Darling River today – image Shane Aurousseau

The issue of Water management in Australia is not dissimilar to the problems faced by communities along the Colorado River in the United States.

The Colorado River starts in Rocky Mountain National Park along the jagged edge of the Continental Divide at over 12,000 feet of elevation. The river cascades, flows, tumbles, and rumbles through 1,450 miles of mountains, canyons, high plains, and low deserts on its journey to the Sea of Cortez

Colorado-2
Disappearing Colorado River USA

in Mexico. The entire Southwest United States completely depends on the Colorado River and its tributaries – the states of Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Wyoming, and California use the river’s water for farming, drinking, growing lawns, and generating hydroelectric power.

Thirty million people in the Southwest use the Colorado River’s water for their material sustenance; millions more use the river itself for recreation and spiritual enjoyment. The river quenches our thirst, feeds our souls, enlivens our senses. And we are not the only inhabitants using this river – its waters, canyons, and habitats provide a vibrant but deeply threatened ecosystem for untold numbers of plant and animal species. All of these competing demands make the Colorado River one of the most contested and controlled rivers on Earth. Over the last decade, humans have drained all of the river’s water – all 5 trillion gallons – before it reaches the Sea of Cortez. The Colorado River is in very bad shape and deeply threatened.

To serve the needs of human populations, for the last decade the Colorado River has been completely drained dry by the time it reaches the Sea of Cortez. While the destruction of the river is a clear and obvious consequence of our actions, additional threats to the Colorado River – from its headwaters in Rocky Mountain National Park, all the way to its dry destiny near the Sea of Cortez – are increasing with each tick of the clock.

Climate change is looming, population growth is escalating, more dams and diversions are planned, species are on the brink of extinction, oil/gas/mineral exploration near the river is increasing, and invasive species are continuing their march up and down the river and its tributaries.

The Save the Colorado campaign won’t be able to address all of these threats, but it’s important to tell the whole story and begin the critical work of restoration. http://savethecolorado.org/

As a species we are extremely bad at managing our natural resources.

Shane Aurousseau

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Australia a Management Issue

Australia Condobolin NSW Indian Pacific Railway a vast land image Shane Aurousseau
Australia Condobolin NSW Indian Pacific Railway a vast land image Shane Aurousseau

Australia comprises a land mass of around 7.629 million square kilometers. It is about 50% greater than the European Union. When I did my first trip overseas in the early 1970s the population was around 10 million today it is 24 million people. The latest visit to my homeland started to give me an insight into the deficiencies in the infrastructure of this vast and exciting country. I mentioned in a previous blog the difficulties in travelling to the major inland city of Dubbo from the National Capital. There is only one bus a week Saturday and this travels through many outback small towns. Australians whom I spoke to and as an Australian I do understand the lingo generally felt that there are not enough people to justify building the infrastructure. This is rather like saying that Woolworths and Coles with their 18.3 million customers and total control of the $85 billion grocery market should not have built stores until the 18.3 million people where queuing up in front of the vacant plot picked out for the first store.

I spend my time now between Spain and Australia and have pointed out on many occasions the strong High Speed Rail Network that has gone together in Spain – Alta Velocidad Española (AVE)

Spain the AVEs High Speed Trains lined up
Spain the AVEs High Speed Trains lined up
Spain the AVE High Speed Train Image Shane Aurousseau
Spain the AVE High Speed Train Image Shane Aurousseau

Now I know that much of this network is built via EU (European Union for those Australians who don’t know where the EU is) loans. This money is however much better spent on infrastructure than going into some greasy politician’s pocket. The last 6 months have seen Spain coming out of recession with a growth rate as good as Germany’s. The infrastructure in Spain will pay off the country now has the second best High Speed Rail network in the world after China, where is Britain and Australia. The road system of Spain is now mostly silk like highways. Goods and tourists can move faster companies like this type of investment. Ford motor company is putting 2.8 Billion Euros into manufacturing in Valencia what a confirmation of trust; one of the biggest car manufacturing investments ever. What of Australia’s car manufacturing it has stopped, even the

Australia the Iconic Holden RIP Image Shane Aurousseau
Australia the Iconic Holden RIP Image Shane Aurousseau

iconic Holden has left the shores. Australia loosely welcomes 5 million tourists per year. I will add that at least half of these tourists are probably Chinese families coming in and out to visit relatives. Spain has 70 million tourists, France 85 million and Britain 35 million. Now most Australians while over the Barbie will tell you that it is due to the distance, from where the antarctic, Asia including China and Japan are in striking distance as is much of the East Coast of the USA. Tourists can lift an economy the Greeks may have to survive off the tourist industry. Greece attracts 22.5 million tourists per year with a population of 11 million; tourism contributes over $30 billion US per year to the economy. Now it is the birth place of democracy whatever that is, however Australia has a people who can be traced back 50,000 years and are living on one of the oldest continents on earth. The differential between what other countries achieve in attracting tourists and what Australia with its stunning and much unspoilt countryside, outback and beaches achieves should make the tourist board ashamed.  Thailand gets 22 million plus Tourists annually.

Australia is generally believed to be a dry land once away from the coast.  However the Great Artesian Basin is the largest and deepest artesian basin in the world covering 1.7 million square kilometers  some 23% of the continent this is a massive sweet water cache, It is also an under used resource with many of the great Australian Rivers being pumped dry.

Australia Darling River Loading Wool-Tolarnost 1914
Australia Darling River Loading Wool-Tolarnost 1914

The Darling river with its tributaries is 2,844 km long making it the largest river system in Australia. The Murray river is Australia’s longest river at 2508 Km. The  Murray Darling confluence is at Wentworth New South Wales.The Murray Darling river system is one of the longest in the world.

Australia Darling river transport
Australia Darling river transport
Darling River water Conservation Scheme The pride and expectation
Darling River water Conservation Scheme The pride and expectation

There was a period when steamers came up the Darling river today you would be lucky to paddle a canoe up this great river. Industry and to some degree intensive cotton farming and its hunger for water have had a great effect on the water level of both the Darling and Murray rivers.

Australia the dry Darling River Image Shane Aurousseau
Australia the dry Darling River Image Shane Aurousseau

The Murray still has some depth to it but the Darling has little left. Cubbie Station located near Dirranbandi South West Queensland  the largest irrigation system in the Southern Hemisphere covering some 240,000 acres has dammed of more water than the total volume of Sydney Harbour from the Darling river system.. All of this intensive agriculture is damaging the environment and having an effect on the  native commodities wheat and the wool industry. The problem seems to be that successive governments have been more concerned with their political power and personal financial gains rather than investing management skills into protecting this exciting continent and  growing the real wealth of the country. It is hoped that the Aboriginals who control the rights to most river banks will step in and help fight this destruction of the environment.

The only state at the moment that has a sound financial base is New South Wales but I wonder how long that will last, possibly NSW should go for independence the Scots would support them. With sound management Australia has the mineral / commodity wealth to be one of the leading countries in the world.  Australia is the 11th wealthiest country in the world, Spain is the 12th. Generally speaking the country left to the Australians would go bust. It’s lucky that the Chinese have come however the joint deals need to be managed so that the Australians also benefit. There is the population for both a manufacturing base and commodity base. The Australian Dollar is at the mercy of commodity and especially mining prices – good business spreads the risk.

Australia Belswick Merino Stud Condobolin NSW Image Shane Aurousseau
Australia Belswick Merino Stud Condobolin NSW Image Shane Aurousseau

IMGS6127-1A

Photographer Shane Aurousseau

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