River Rights: Reliable Ways of Testing Decisions about Environmental Flows Are Needed to Begin Diverting Water Back from Irrigation. (the Wentworth View)

Ecos, April-June 2003 | Go to article overview

River Rights: Reliable Ways of Testing Decisions about Environmental Flows Are Needed to Begin Diverting Water Back from Irrigation. (the Wentworth View)


Australia is the world's driest inhabited continent, yet Australians are the highest users of water per capita in the world. Our demand for water is so great, that more than a quarter of our river systems are close to, or have exceeded, sustainable extraction limits.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the Murray-Darling Basin, where more than 80% of the total flow from the combined river systems is diverted for industry and domestic use. Irrigation accounts for 95% of this.

Dams and weirs have dissociated Murray-Darling floodwaters from the floodplains, and altered the magnitude, frequency, seasonality, duration and variation of flows. Algal blooms, native fish losses and explosions in carp populations are increasing.

If nothing is done, closure of the Murray River mouth and the subsequent death of South Australia's Coorong region and its internationally listed wetlands is imminent.

Adelaide's main water supply is predicted to fail World Health Organization standards for every two days in five, within 20 years. The salinisation of our farmlands (through irrigation water) will increase.

These issues were highlighted in the report, Managing Australia's Inland Waters. Roles for Science and Technology, presented at the Prime Minister's Science and Engineering Council (PMSEIC) meeting in September 1996.

Strategies to address these issues, such as the water market and a cap on extractions from the Murray-Darling, have been in place for some time, but the Wentworth Group says these reforms have not secured the long-term health of the basin.

'It is obvious that environmental flows need to be increased,' the group says. 'Rivers, like the River Murray, are not working. It is time to begin the process of recovering water from irrigation.'

Saving the Murray

In 2002, the Murray-Darling Basin Ministerial Council took steps to address the problem of environmental flows in the Murray system. These included the initiation of a community-wide discussion about environmental flows, and an assessment of the costs and benefits to the environment, industries and communities of returning water to the river.

As part of this 'Living Murray Initiative', a computer software tool was chosen to assess the ecological impacts of a range of environmental flow scenarios.

One of the developers of the Murray Flows Assessment Tool (MFAT), CSIRO Land and Water river scientist Dr Bill Young, says the tool will help the Ministerial Council and others to understand the environmental outcomes of any flow allocation decision.

'Much of the debate over water concerns efficiency, so how do we use water more efficiently in order to save more for the environment?' Young asks.

'Achieving greater water savings may cost millions of dollars, through lining channels, installing pipes or improving delivery. So unless we've got some idea of the environmental gains resulting from that expenditure, we won't be able to make informed or effective decisions. That's where MFAT comes in.'

MFAT is being used to assess the environmental returns from three reference flows established by the Ministerial Council: 350 gigalitres a year, 750 GL/yr and 1500 GL/yr.

These are not actual flow options, but are intended to give all sectors of the community an idea of the costs and benefits involved in transferring various annual volumes of water from current uses, such as irrigation, to the Murray.

Thirteen scenarios--different spatial and temporal hydrology patterns--have been developed around these flows, to investigate the effects of recovering these quantities of water from different parts of the river system, or releasing water at different times.

MFAT is then used by 10 regional evaluation groups (state agency scientists or consultants) to determine the ecological effects of these hydrological changes.

'Each regional group uses MFAT to model different aspects of the ecology at about 10 locations along their zone of the river,' Young says. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

River Rights: Reliable Ways of Testing Decisions about Environmental Flows Are Needed to Begin Diverting Water Back from Irrigation. (the Wentworth View)
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.