19 September, 2010

Irrigation

The Victorian floods and big rainfall in NSW, after ten years of the lowest run-off we have seen in our short recorded history, greatly assists my central argument that water shortages in our rivers were not caused by extractions. By believing the fallacy that 'we are taking too much water out of our rivers' the whole approach of our bureaucrats, dark green scientists and  and politicians is deeply flawed. 

I note a tone of alarm in the MDBA spokespeople of having to release their report when there is water all over the place. The MDBA CEO was saying the other day that we must not be influenced by the immediate situation of water everywhere, but need to deal with the "averages"-fair enough. He then added that our current rules don't allow for the variability. What nonsense-they do, but the recent approach doesn't. Fancy asking CSIRO to estimate 'sustainable yield' of our rivers. If 'sustainable' means 'regular' or 'every year' the only 'sustainable yield' would be NIL. Even the mighty Murray River went dry under natural low rainfall conditions before we built our major storages. It is the wrong question from people who have no appreciation of the massive variability. Our water managers of old understood the variability and have dealt with it most effectively by differentiating between Licenses/Entitlements on the one hand and Seasonal Allocations on the the other.

I once heard John Howard describe a "conservative" as someone who does not believe that everything his grandfather said was necessarily wrong! Modern water managers are certainly not conservatives. They seem to believe that the water managers of old got everything wrong. They didn't! They really understood the nature of our rivers and struck a very good balance between socio-economic and environmental needs. Perhaps they worked in an era when 'production' was given more weight than the 'environment'. But, the pendulum has certainly swung to an environmental extreme. That thinking then takes us  to the fundamental "green" debate about man's place in the environment and what the right balance between conflicing objectives should be. We could be here for hours! Let's not 'go there' at the moment!
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