30 January, 2015

Health Update

Last year (02.08.14) I wrote " Last year (2013) I published three posts titled "Oh What a Feeling", "Cricket and Chemo" and "Contemplation" which gave the brutal facts of my flirtation with bowel cancer. In September last year I wrote a triumphant "Health Update" declaring a cancer "all clear". Nothing has changed in that direction, but a large hernia developed where the ileostomy had been and it was determined that I should have a "repair job" done on it. The practice is to strengthen the stomach lining with some plastic mesh.

As with the initial surgery and then the ileostomy closure, I took this latest procedure quite lightly. And again got a shock. Pre-op I was pleased that I didn't have to have the epidural-like back injection and persuaded the surgeon not to catheterise, me as I believe some bladder damage was done last time. However the post surgery pain was intense and they kept me in the recovery ward for quite a long time as any movement caused such pain. Daughter Susie got quite worried that I hadn't been taken to the ward. 

Four days of very considerable discomfort and largely sleepless nights followed. Thank God for family and friends visits and cricket and tennis TV diversions and a very amusing email exchange with my retired gynecologist friend in the wee hours one particular night. I emerged from hospital on a very wet day, five days after the operation. At home our low level bed and the lack of a hook above, made getting in and out of bed very difficult. I finally got a proper nights sleep seven days after the surgery, and that was heaven. I felt so well that yesterday I decided to join my usual lunch group at my city club. I will spare you the detail, but last night the bowel really rebelled and I am taking it very easy today. Have an appointment with my surgeon for next Thursday to have the 16 staples removed. Hopefully, there will be no need for any further "organ recitals"!

12 January, 2015

Snowy Scheme

As my readers know I have often questioned whether the management of the Snowy Scheme has sufficient emphasis on its original water conservation objectives compared with the apparent focus on hydro electricity generation. In late November I had the opportunity of joining a Snowy Hydro conducted tour of the Scheme which concentrated on the Northern end (Tumut/Murrumbidgee), as distinct from the southern (Murray) end.
It was a fascinating experience and whilst I remain no expert, I am gaining a better understanding of the scheme itself from an engineering perspective and how Snowy Hydro manage it in accordance with the requirements of their shareholders and the agreements which govern the management. I must say I come away with great admiration of both. The Scheme is a master piece of engineering and I was most impressed with the management and general efficiency of Snowy Hydro. That is not to say that I don't still harbor views that the management of the scheme has lost sight of its original prime objective of water conservation for irrigation. I do, but that is not the fault of Snowy Hydro.

Snowy Hydro shareholders are the Governments of NSW, Victoria and Australia. It makes its money from hydro electricity generation, not irrigation water and these shareholders require it to maximise its earnings which, it seems to me, it does very well. Amongst many other things, the agreements which govern its operations require it to make minimum releases of a little over 1,000GL per annum to both the Murray and Murrumbidgee Rivers. Interestingly about half of this water once flowed east to the sea. In my view it could do considerably more in the water conservation area, but that would be in conflict with its shareholder's requirements.

Much of this relates to the timing of releases and among other things, the need to keep airspace in Blowering Reservoir so that water can be released when the demand for peak load electricity is strong.

The tour had a nostalgic aspect for me. When I was a school boy at Canberra Grammar I spent many holidays with the Miners family at Adaminaby. They held some Kiandra snow leases and I had several trips on horse back with pack horses taking livestock to and from the high snow country. One of the leases was Happy Jack's and I spent some nights camped at the Happy Jack's hut. I was thus delighted to see when we received the itinerary for the tour that the first stop after Jindabyne

Happy Jack's Dam. The scenery above
Eucumbene Dam was magnificent
and for me the fact that one of our guides who I mostly travelled with was  Charlie Litchfield, a member of a well known local family who new the country and landholders backwards, was a real bonus. There was much reminiscing.
At the time of my school boy visits the Snowy Scheme was under construction and I well remember the houses being moved from the old Adaminaby to the new town site, before the old town area was flooded by Eucumbene Dam.

Suffice to say it was a thoroughly enjoyable and informative trip.