Back in May, I discussed how I believe the Murray Darling System should be managed. The short hand of this is that I believe it should be an objective, at the federal level, that treats this major water way much like the budget; with projections made of expect flows over the coming year, the governing body delivers to each dependant sector how much water can be used, which is then distributed amount that sectors management body amongst the water users.
That this water way fuels the lives of millions of people across four states and one territory (arguably without it, SA wouldn’t be much of a state), but is almost entirely governed at regional levels is absurd. The only thing more absurd is SA’s interest in compensating a bad situation with a de-salination plant.
The Lower Lakes of the Murray mouth are at best fragmented pools, further upstream environmental managers usually have to decide which wetlands are going to be inundated over others and we see the solution as providing expensive water to the Adelaide and Mt Lofty region?
Coupled with the idea I spoke about back in May, it seems to me that best option, if de-salination is required, would be to set up the process on the eastern coast line to assist the natural recharge process. This process could be largely if not entirely powered by renewable sources because intermittent recharge wouldn’t matter – that’s how the system natural works anyway! When we have times of good flow, we can either (or both) divert the water or power to local requirements. Again, this is not a state problem, neither should be the solution be state orientated.
Water security is already an issue in Australia, and it is a situation that will only get worse over the coming decades. Compulsory water tanks in Adelaide is about as useless and needlessly expensive to the tail-end users of the Murray Darling system as a local de-salination plant under current management systems (especially when residential use is relatively small). It’s like installing an expensive water filter on a purified water supply while ignoring your ailing water tank falling to pieces outside. Downstream life is made more expensive by poor management across the entire system.
The states involved in this issue have made a clear point that they are unwilling to be useful in addressing the problem.
We must make the noise.
The Murray Darling should be managed as a whole, regardless of boarders, with all sectors aware of this relationship. Assisted recharge at the source, exploiting renewable energy, is the only way that we can save a systems that feeds half of Australia (many gigalitres more than a few generations ago). The expense of over-exploitation needs to be shared across this system. The solution needs to be shared by everyone who relies on the Murray Darling.