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Diverting Northern Rivers South

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The Murray Darling Basin Plan Fiasco.
Minister Tony Burke and the Federal Labor/Green Movement seem intent on destroying the fabric of the communities in the MDB while bankrupting the industries and rural enterprises, by implementing a plan of dubious value to the environment and certainly no value to the rest of the Murray Darling Basin.
But, we have another plan....!

In October 2010, Tony Burke, Federal Member for Watson, Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities finally released the Murray Darling Basin Plan, over 6 months after it was promised and expected, and after the Federal Election outcome had been decided.  There was probably a political survival strategy in that release date, because the recommendations of the MDB Plan are such that the whole of the population of the Murray Darling Basin are outraged that their needs as communities of people with businesses and livelhoods has been threatened by water allocation cuts of over 35%, in a misguided attempt to save the Murray River by simply reducing water allocations.  The real issues facing the MDB have not been addressed and the "Triple Bottom Line" approach has not been addressed.  The threat to the MDB communities is obvious, and re-election of the Labor Party would not have occurred if this plan had been released before the election!

Community information sessions have since given the public in the basin and elsewhere the opportunity to vent their rage at the plan and forced the minister to back down to allow real consultation to take place.  The deadline for the implementation of the plan has also been deferred - possibly to 2012, but not to a definate timeframe yet.

This has given the community the opportunity to not only pressure the government to rethink their plan, but time also for other contributions to be made and alternatives provided.

One such alternative is at the link below.  It is unique in that it offeres a multifaceted approach and a range of solutions to the problems within the MDB, and many problems outside the basin as well.  Please study this Alternative Murray Darling Basin Plan and promote it to your local member of parliament, newspaper, radio station and anyone else who will listen.

The fact is that the future of the Murray Darling Basin is the future of Australia!  If the current plan is implemented, agriculture and industry in the whole of the region would slowly die and within a decade, our food security would be non-existent, most of our food would be imported from overseas and our rural and regional economy shattered.  This is not something we can get wrong.  Please study this Alternative Murray Darling Basin Plan and tell the world about it - this may be the last chance we have!

The Alternative Murray Darling Basin Plan

The Original Concept, pre Mr Burke's MDB Plan

Rainfall in the northern and eastern regions of Australia can be excessive, and all of it flows through a series of short, fast flowing rivers to the Pacific Ocean or the Gulf of Carpentaria.  The rivers are mostly on the eastern side of the Great Dividing Range, running from Southern Victoria to Northern Queensland.  The mountains are mostly steep on the eastern aspect and gently sloping on the western aspect, the result of tilted beds. 

This geological factor provides a huge opportunity to redress the great imbalance we have created with water flows in the west flowing rivers of the Murray Darling systems.

Once the excess water is delivered to the western side of the mountain range, the natural flow tendencies can be harnessed to take the water from those points to the river systems where their flushing and flooding action is desperately needed.

In the 1950’s, the Snowy Mountain Scheme did a similar thing with the Snowy River and the hydro electricity scheme.  The technology we have to work with is now 6 decades more advanced than the best we had in those days, and the task we would ask of it, diverting those certain rivers across the Great Dividing Range, would be a much simpler feat than the Snowy Scheme was.

Should we do it?  The question of ecological balance is debated strongly. 

What we learned from the Snowy River is that totally diverting a river and causing it to literally dry up is wrong.  However, the rivers in question flood enormously in the wet seasons, and the resultant floods layer huge amounts of smothering silt on delicate coral reefs, while on the other side of the range, rivers are dying for lack of water flows.

There has to be a balance in there, where enough water is available to satisfy both needs, and solve the problems that now exist.  With the technology we now have, the opportunity to be much more efficient and effective with our use and utilisation of water need not create the problems and legacies our waste of water in the past has done.

There is a significant reason to consider the diversions on a power/cost basis also, as a considerable amount of almost totally free electrical energy and other forces is available to power this piped water transfer across or through the mountain range.

The water is taken from flowing rivers, where an underwater turbine or bank of underwater turbines generating electricity could drive electric pumps to supplement any power required to pump the water across the range.  However, it doesn’t stop there.

Once the water is over the range, managed carefully, it can be set up to siphon through the piping, down the other side.  This siphon effect, supplemented with the initial pumping, may in some situations, almost eliminate external power requirements to transfer water across the range.

A quote from Geologist Mr John Nethery follows, on this topic, concerning waters from the rivers flowing into the Gulf Of Carpentaria.  More information on Mr Nethery can be found on the Agmates Sites, especially in the Climate Sceptics community, to which he is a regular contributor.

"I've considered this issue for many years and concluded that the original Bradfield concept was a bit difficult in practical terms, for example, requiring tunnels longer than those in the Snowy Mountains Scheme. However I believe there are several practical modest adaptations of Bradfield's idea, with the main problems being the volume and rate of water to be moved, and evaporation rates on the way.

Stage 1 would be a dam in the top end of the Flinders River catchment just north of the White Mountains, which would accumulate water from an area of about 2000 square kilometres, draining the Sturgeon Basalt and Nulla Basalt fields, which are well known excellent aquifers that top up in the Wet Season, and discharge throughout the year. This to be supplemented by a weir across the Flinders near "Glendower" Station, and a 10 kilometre diversion channel into Prairie Creek, which flows into the Thomson River.

Stage 2 would involve the existing Burdekin Dam reservoir with a pumping station near the drowned "Cranbrooke Park" and a major pipeline for 10 kilometres for an elevation of 150 metres to a reservoir on the The Tableland nearby. This reservoir would gravity feed, via 200 kilometres of pipeline to Lake Galilee at 50 metres lower elevation. Lake Galilee then overflows and drains into the Thomson via the Cornish Creek system.

Having gone to that trouble the problem then diverts to the lower Thomson near Windorah where a weir and system of pipelines and channels could divert water 400 kilometres across to the Paroo River and thence into the Darling River."

This is "babysteps" stuff in the overall scheme of things, but huge when considering that the Queensland Government recently invested in a desalination plant to solve a water supply problem that didn't exist on the Gold Coast, when other works already underway have prevented the (potential) problem ever occurring again!

We need to consider water supply problems not in terms of periods in which government members and politicians apply for re-election, but in terms of thinking decades ahead, to what the country needs  and what the population and the rural situation needs will be as much as 2 decades, and maybe more, into the future!  Short term thinking as most politicians are prone to does not fit well with geological passage of time.

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