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  • Turning the tide - Lakes Need Water
    I visited the mouth alone to fish the night At dawn on a hot summer s morning I would paddle out into the surf to wash the bleariness from my eyes and stroke into the small glassy right handers that peeled along the channel out from the very mouth I had hunted mulloway in the night before My only company the excited whistles of Oyster Catchers hurrying about in pairs on the pipi beds and that morning where a massive dull ghost cruised silently in an approaching banking wave reminding me I had become part of this environment and now lived by its rules An estuary is alive Like a heart its tides pump in situ with the moon and the earth bringing life along its path I left Adelaide in the early 90s and went to the East Coast of Southern NSW I worked in local government across sensitive environmental issues including the closure of hardwood logging as part of the South East Forest Agreement under the Carr government I worked through the tragedy of the Thredbo landslide and its impact on tourism in the region and worked closely with communities both on the coast and mountains to learn what was important to a regional economy and even more importantly a region s culture In my 10 years I also saw what estuaries meant to the regional communities from Bateman s Bay down to Mallacouta some of Australia s most beautiful coastline On return to Adelaide my partner and I purchased a holiday house at Goolwa Both of us whilst not of a scientific background have tertiary qualifications in areas of resource management and physical geography and Australian History we also spend a lot of time on and around water Since purchasing the house and returning to Goolwa at every opportunity it has been saddening to hear so many different views from experts to the point where I guard my opinion in public As a dedicated fly fisher I have seen the downstream consequences of upstream mismanagement on countless streams and rivers across the country be it on a smaller scale However the causes and consequences are always the same My first job out of University was writing 7 canoeing guides for the River Murray from the border s to the Murray Mouth I kayaked every kilometre of backwater anabranch and mainstream I could see even then the disaster about to unfold Sadly now we pay the price of greed and it is time to stop mucking around with something so much more powerful than we can ever be It never ceases to amaze me that people forget that you simply cannot mess with nature For anyone to think that the lower lakes are in a natural environment right now is simply sad Concrete barriers diverted water extraction and on and on it goes Meanwhile an estuary sits waiting only a block of concrete away that could return a community spirit and economy within 3 months Ask any East

    Original URL path: http://www.lakesneedwater.org/letters/turning-the-tide (2016-02-09)
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  • Expert panel limits options - Lakes Need Water
    of fresh water the Lower Lakes and Coorong suffer because the barrages have created an artificially fresh environment I believe the sustainable solution to the issues facing the Lower Lakes and Coorong is to ultimately restore the Lower Lakes and Coorong to a single vast estuary it once was pre barrages This difficult and heart wrenching solution seems to me to be the only solution with any hope of a

    Original URL path: http://www.lakesneedwater.org/letters/Expert-panel-limits-options (2016-02-09)
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  • Rational choices - Lakes Need Water
    vote They want water We need to negotiate I believe it would have been and still will be an astute move to shift positions and negotiate for a lock at Wellington This would be very costly so in return we must give something the win win of negotiations We have much to gain Had we taken this stand earlier we may have levered the total cost of the irrigation pipeline to Currency Creek out of the deal but 90 is ok and in the past We now have a situation where if we build a lock complete with fish ladders etc all of the upstream wetlands recreational areas river industries and major pipelines will be secure They will be in a weir pool created by what I will call Lock Zero The demands on the river will not be altered The draw off from Mannum Jervois or private lines will be the same The environmental flows that currently flow over Lock One will continue to flow over Lock One and all things being equal those environmental flows would continue to flow over Lock Zero There are no negatives only cost Murray Bridge river banks would be stabilised the wetlands associated with Walkers Flat restored recreational activities resumed And the environmental flows that currently enter the Lakes via the river channel would enter it via Lock Zero A lock at Wellington has no sustainably negatives at least not any which do not apply to all the other 38 or so structures that control the river flows Sure some will cite old river boat captains recall of lake water raising and lowering the river levels at Mannum by a metre or comparing the system to some part of human anatomy These are beliefs held in good faith by many but do not stand up to rational scrutiny We are always going to be in a situation where the system is compromised We are forced to make choices Some times Sophie like choices There will be times when we lose something grand to save something grander If a position was taken to build a Lock at Wellington we would need to back it up with some modelling of all the options related to the removal of the barrages This modelling would include the effects of the restoration of the tidal estuarine flows on the sand build ups created by the barrages The effects of open tidal flows on the Murray Mouth The Venturi s and eddies that tidal flows and environmental flows would have on the Coorong Lake Albert and the waters around Hindmarsh Island and Lake Alexandrina The modelling would then create an ability to assess the ecological changes that would result What creatures and what industries would thrive in the estuarine environment And which would suffer Where would the balance of nature sit This only needs to be modelling as actions would be dependent on results and Sir Thomas Playford s art of the possible No modelling has been done the

    Original URL path: http://www.lakesneedwater.org/letters/Rational-choices (2016-02-09)
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  • Call for open minds - Lakes Need Water
    It is unfortunate that people with political motives and devious agendas have sought to make these issues so controversial in the public consciousness that governments have delayed actions which could and should have been taken to minimise the inevitable environmental and human consequences of an unprecedented drought As catchment inflows remain at near record lows it has become clear to most people that the freshwater only mantra of the protest groups Alexandrina Council and more recently the SA Government s Department of Environment and Heritage is little more than wishful thinking Long term planning for the Lower Lakes must not exclude the possible use of seawater to maintain natural levels While Goolwa can celebrate the temporary return of water to their channel levels will continue to fall in Lake Alexandrina and Lake Albert over summer exposing vast areas of sand and potentially acid mud Corrosive dust storms will place human health and habitation under threat while upstream slumping banks dump valuable shacks and riverside houses into the deep In the face of these threats I strongly support Kieran Fitzgerald s call for an open minded scientific examination of the potential environmental advantages and disadvantages of a permanent weir and lock

    Original URL path: http://www.lakesneedwater.org/letters/call-for-open-minds (2016-02-09)
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  • Science of seawater - Lakes Need Water
    resort of allowing minimal quantities of seawater in to buffer the Lakes water in this event may turn out to be too little too late Unfortunately we do not know exactly what this trigger point is or how much seawater would be necessary but it is clear that it could become perilously close to an almost irreversible state given the predictions of a dry spring and summer and the levels in Lake Alexandrina already at 0 76m AHD Allowing the levels to get this low also ignores the importance of the Ramsar treaty since the former wetlands would be further destroyed An international expert recently in Adelaide stated that the Ramsar convention accepts the value of marine and estuarine wetlands as equal to freshwater ones Estuarine wetlands around the Lower Lakes would support a diverse biota which could be seen as more healthy than the situation since the barrages given that there would be some tidal fluctuations allowing wading birds to thrive You have mentioned the problem of the degree of tidal mixing which could be achieved by opening the barrage gates to the sea I do not agree that estuarine conditions could only be maintained for any length of time except in the near proximity of the mouth itself This does not take into consideration many factors by which seawater could be moved into and out of the Lakes to prevent hypersalinity Some of these are The flood tide sand accretions behind the mouth which have built up as the result of the barrages would have to be cleared or at least channels dredged through them to allow the maximum tidal signals to reach the barrages Dredging is a necessary procedure at the mouths of most tidal estuaries around Australia but new technologies of resuspension of ebb tide sand would make this job much cheaper and easier The gates of the barrages would have to be modified so that they could be operated quickly to take advantage of spring high and low tides storm surges and seiching patterns in the Lakes It has been shown that longer period weather patterns have an additional influence on the water levels of the Gippsland Lakes which are much stronger than the tidal influence Gippsland Coastal Board These would be expected to occur in SA s Lower Lakes as well Having five barrages to manipulate would allow the use of one or more for entry and others as exit for seawater depending on the water levels in Lake Alexandrina thereby allowing circulation within the Lakes If a channel were cut from Lake Albert through to the Coorong this could be an additional part of the system of circulation All of these mechanisms and others need to be modeled by qualified engineers of which we abound in South Australia The trouble with the Government of South Australia s fresh water only stance is that valuable time has passed during which these mechanisms could have been researched By now we could have had some strategies

    Original URL path: http://www.lakesneedwater.org/letters/science-of-seawater (2016-02-09)
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  • Weir delays - Lakes Need Water
    become part of the river bed The physical consequences of low water levels are as bad as the chemical mix of acid sulphate soils ASS and water in terms of costs and long term damage to both the natural environment and the human built environment Consequently there is wide support for the concept of holding water back in the river for critical human use and for servicing wetlands and backwaters This support overshadows a preference to allow river water to flow down the river and into the lakes only to become acidic and toxic to eventually evaporate and waste In the meantime there s little coming from the government about the weir and how temporary the Pomanda structure is There s increasing dissatisfaction about the site for the weir and whether a narrower opening and bedrock base should be part of the discussion Many agree to build another wall across the Murray without a solid base and locks or gate s is unthinkable What really needs to be raised is the level of continual procrastination over the weir and everything that goes with it This has caused a situation where dried out wetlands have become a serious threat to the health and ecology of the river which in turn threatens water supplies destined as a top up for Adelaide s reservoirs during low rainfall catchments Lessons learned from acidification of Currency Creek and Lake Alexandrina to date should be warning enough to highlight further potential risk in the river and its wetlands This is particularly so given the weather forecasts for next summer The implications of draining wetlands with resultant acidification of soils and run off should have become more widely understood particularly in the last ten years or so When considering the past 120 years and the engineering solutions we used to alter the environment to the way we thought it should be and looking at results of about 100 of those years it reveals we have not really understood how we ve been literally poisoning waterways and estuarine environments with acid run off laden with toxins and heavy metals These have played a role in the decline of productivity and health of these systems over many years Not only are we dealing with a crisis with our River Murray Lower Lakes and Coorong in a wider picture we re also draining and diverting nearby coastal swamps and samphire flats allowing potential acid sulphate soils to dry out and leach the acids and heavy metals into the poorly flushed marine environment with help from occasional seasonal rain In one case not connected with the Murray River and lower lakes there is some doubt concerning the coastal lands north of Adelaide where serious and urgent remedial work is required with soil disturbance river flood plain drainage and creek runoff reaching coastal estuarine and mangrove features This is a similar but smaller ASS crisis but no less serious from what we are doing or not doing along the Murray and Lower

    Original URL path: http://www.lakesneedwater.org/letters/weir-delays (2016-02-09)
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  • The Risk of System Collapse - Lakes Need Water
    and time which we do not have The simple solution is to allow the Lakes to return to a modified estuarine condition mimicking the situation before the barrages were installed A recent meeting of international experts in Goolwa has said that allowing seawater into the Lakes will give them the best shot at recovery Contrary to the Freshwater Embassy there is scientific and historical evidence that the sea came into the Lakes on a daily basis with the tide and during drought years penetrated well up into the River There are many benefits of this proposal mainly the seawater would cover the acid sulphate soils and prevent their further development corrosive dust storms from the dry lake bed will be averted the Ramsar wetland would be restored albeit a marine one allowing wading birds migratory birds marine fish and plants such as seagrasses to create biodiversity Ramsar has allowance for changing ecology and the huge amount of freshwater which presently evaporates from the surface of the Lakes between 450 and 800GL 2 4 times Adelaide s annual water consumption would then be saved for restoring the River The building of the weir at Pomanda or nearby would be necessary preventing the seawater penetrating up into the River but in times of heavy flow would allow fresh water to spill over and proceed through the Lakes as of old Circulation of the seawater in the Lakes would be needed to prevent hypersalinity and this is entirely possible using modified barrage gates which could be opened and closed during tidal cycles similar to the West Lakes system Some have said that there is not enough tidal head at the Murray mouth to effect penetration into and out of the Lakes however tidal ranges of about the same magnitude occur at Lakes Entrance

    Original URL path: http://www.lakesneedwater.org/letters/risk-of-system-collapse (2016-02-09)
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  • Wetland & Rivers Group Conference - Lakes Need Water
    water allocation Richard is well known for his film work with the former MDBC as a presenter He also in recent years did many aerial surveys over the Coorong Dr Harry Biggs South African National Parks freshwater Taskforce World Commission on Protected Areas International Union for Conservation of Nature Mr Trevor Bishop Environment Agency of England and Wales Dr David Reinheimer Uni of California Davis Prof Max Finlayson Charles Sturt Uni and Scientific Technical Review Panel Ramsar Convention on Wetlands Kym McHugh Mayor Alexandrina Shire China and Spain were also represented at the conference After a presentation by Mayor McHugh a question and answer period followed with some very interesting outcomes The information on Ramsar was particularly enlightening It seems that Ramsar isn t fussed on whether a Ramsar listed wetland was freshwater seawater estuarine water or brackish So long as it is a wetland is what counts Prof Finlayson talked about how he had seen other rivers around the world run dry leading to changes at the end of river wetland In trying to provide an example he then talked about a huge estuary in WA that had been brought back to life by cutting a huge channel to sea and allowing large volumes of seawater from the ocean into its confines He was talking about the Dawesville Channel at Mandurah Finlayson said that it was a matter of what do we want from this part of the river with no river flow They can be marine sea or fresh he said They certainly can be marine estuarine he said There is no reason why we cannot change wetlands This is a National Parks concept of not changing values The Convention allows us to do it he said What do we want We need to be innovative use wisdom

    Original URL path: http://www.lakesneedwater.org/meetings/wetland-rivers-group-conference-9-sep-2009 (2016-02-09)
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