Cubbie Station cops the blame for all of the problems of the Darling River, particularly by green journalists, politicians, and residents of Menindee and Broken Hill. It is blamed for fish kills, lack of water for Broken Hill, irrigators’ problems etc – it is a wonder it is not blamed for the drought.
So I decided to look into the matter, reading media and company reports, studying the geography and topography and having discussions with three people who have on-the-ground and inside experience (but no vested interest) in Cubbie. I have had no contacts whatsoever with the current owners or managers of Cubbie, did not visit the operation and have no shares in their operation.
Cubbie Station, the largest irrigation property in the southern hemisphere, is located near Dirranbandi, in south west Queensland, Australia. It is situated on the almost level flood plains of the Culgoa and Balonne rivers.
Watching the Burdekin Falls Dam with around six metres of water going over the spillway following flood rains in the catchment, we must remember that this is not a rare occurrence.
As far back as 1875 there are records of the Burdekin River rising over 18 metres in just a few hours and repeated reports of 1 to 6 metres of water above the bridge deck at Inkerman. Records of high river flows lasting weeks and months are not uncommon. Following a cyclone in December 1974 the river remained at flood height until April 1975.
These flood flows can exceed 5 mega-litres per second (almost half a million ML every day). This is sufficient to fill our oldest irrigation storage, Burrinjuck Dam, from empty, every two days.
FLOODPLAINS ARE PLAINS THAT FLOOD – SURELY THAT ISN’T TOO DIFFICULT TO UNDERSTAND.
Dr. John Happs
The recent flooding in Queensland has led to the not unexpected hand-wringing and wailing from the usual doomsayers including those green zealots who spread alarm about climate change, extreme weather and how any flooding in Queensland is the direct result of our trivial emissions of carbon dioxide.
Back in 2011 flooding in Queensland was declared the worst in 40 years with more than 26,000 homes impacted and, tragically, 16 people drowned. Green Party leader Bob Brown claimed that the coal mining industry was responsible and should pay for the Queensland flood damage. Seemingly unaware that major floods have always visited Queensland, Brown claimed that:
It’s the single biggest cause – burning coal – for climate change and it must take its major share of responsibility for the weather events we are seeing unfolding now.
Was the recent mass fish-kill in the Menindee Lakes along the Darling River the result of drought or poor water policy in the Murray-Darling Basin?
The mainstream media would have us believe that every drought is now the result of man’s burning of fossil fuels causing “dangerous climate change”. Meanwhile, the Greens are blaming a lack of “environmental flows” for the fish-kill. Read more.
Water conservation peaked in Australia in 1972 – our last big dam was Burdekin Falls Dam in Queensland built 32 years ago.
Elsewhere in Australia, water conservation virtually stopped when Don Dunstan halted the building of Chowilla Dam on the Murray in 1970 and Bob Brown’s Greens halted the Franklin Dam in 1983 (and almost every other dam proposal since then).
The Darling River water management disaster shows that we now risk desperate water shortages because our population and water needs have more than doubled, and much of our stored water has been sold off or released to “the environment”.
However, we regularly see floods of water being shed by the Great Dividing Range, most of it ending up in the Pacific Ocean, while somewhere to the west of that watershed is in severe drought. Then, under what should be called “The Flannery Plan for Water Conservation”, after letting flood waters run into the sea, they build squillion-dollar desalination plants to get water back from the sea.
Numerous dead fish now floating down the Darling River and in the Menindee Lakes is more evidence that the Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) has mismanaged the basin, as the CEC has long documented. So-called “environmental flows” since the MDBA’s notorious “Basin Plan” commenced in 2012 have flushed precious water into swamps and out to sea, and in the process caused riverbank erosion previously never seen. Now there’s no water left when it’s needed most! And the failure to build the Clarence River Scheme—which has been on the books in some form since at least the early 1920s—means that water from the flash flooding that hit the Clarence Valley in October 2018 did not get to flow down the Darling River. Continue reading “Fish kill shows Murray-Darling Basin Authority failure”
Practical Management of
The Darling River:
by Ron Pike Jan 2019.
The management of the Darling River and its vast catchment must be vested with ONE authority; not six or seven as is the present case. We can for now call it “The Darling River Authority” (DRA).
The Darling River and its catchment must be removed from the MDB (Murray-Darling Basin) Plan. There never was any need for water from the Darling to be tagged for use in SA. Management of flows in the lower Murray can come from much larger and more reliable sources.
The DRA must be legally bound to manage the water in the Darling system on the following basis.
First priority for available water every year is maintenance of all of river flow in sufficient volume to supply all stock and domestic needs along with all Municipal requirements.In managing the quantum to be held in storage to meet this First Priority, at least two years supply of water must be accounted for in upstream storages, including delivery losses.
As we watch the disturbing daily images of a dry Darling River, parched Menindee Lakes, millions of dead fish, and outback towns without drinkable water, both bush and city are screaming – Why?
Who is responsible they ask? Name the scapegoats and brand them criminals is demanded.
Any lesser response would be shameful, but some reactions, while understandable, are not rational.
Before we look more closely at why and how these unacceptable events have occurred, we need to put to rest some misconceptions about this river and recent claims made by some aboriginal people that the Darling was previously a “Mighty River” that always flowed.
It wasn’t. After discovery by English explorers Stuart and Hume in 1828, history kept at Menindee tells us it was bone dry there at least 48 times up to 1960 – something that no doubt also happened for hundreds of years before.
When John Howard announced in January 2007 that he was going to take over control of the Murray-Darling Basin and provide $10 Billion to do so, he had no idea of how this would happen, what needed to be done or how the money would be spent. He was responding to a series of wildly inaccurate claims made by a sensationalist driven media unconcerned with truth or reason. Continue reading “The Murray-Darling Basin Scam”
The current approach to managing the water resources of the Murray-Darling Basin (MDB) seems to be a classic case of “straining out gnats while swallowing camels”.
The Federal Government plans to return an additional 450 gigalitres of water “to the environment” as part of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan (MDBP) via $1.4 billion of taxpayers’ money to buy farmers’ water allocations and increase water efficiency. Already, 2100 GL of water has been diverted away from agricultural production to “environmental flows” as part of the MDBP.
A further 605 GL is being directed to the environment via water “savings measures”. Up to 70 per cent of water in reservoirs feeding the MDB is earmarked for “the environment”. One of the problems with diverting such large amounts of water away from food production and sending it down river is that there is no scientific basis to claims that the extra water is benefitting the environment. Quite the reverse, in fact.