The weekly wash-up (March 8th)

The week that was in river and water news – March 8th, 2013

River researchers may face axe  The Murray-Darling Freshwater Research Centre is preparing to cut staff and research in the wake of state government budget cuts to the Murray Darling Basin Authority. The Chairman noted “These budget cuts and consequent destruction of scientific capacity are coming at the time when access to independent science is fundamental to achieving cost-effective outcomes…… in water reform in the Basin.”

Calls to protect Lake Eyre basin from water exploitation    The Queensland government has floated plans to allow small-scale irrigators and mining operations to be allocated water in the basin. A meeting of about 100 traditional owners, graziers, scientists and environmentalists in Longreach (Qld) last week made a declaration calling for permanent protection of the region.
Lake Eyre. Photo by: NASA

Lake Eyre. Photo by: NASA

Landholders demand a say in Murrumbidgee flows  The Upper Murrumbidgee River Landholders and Community group has formed to fight higher environmental flow thresholds proposed for the river. Despite reassurances landowners are worried the river will run below the minor flood level and want to play a more active role in the process.

Water for Rivers project set to dry up   A project that delivered 300 gigalitres of water to the Murray and Snowy rivers over 10 years will end this month. The program delivered 314 gigalitres to the rivers through improving infrastructure and reducing wastage. The project was funded by the Victorian and NSW governments and the Commonwealth.

Experts split over value of raising dam wall  The Federal government announced $50 million to raise the wall of Warragamba Dam (Sydney). The idea is to reduce the risk of flooding to communities downstream. An engineer from UNSW thought changes to water management practices a cheaper option. Raising the wall would also inundate about 7500 hectares of protected bushland and spill into three adjoining national parks.

Mine waste water spills fire up pollution debate  Spills of contaminated water from Mt Todd mine into the Edith River (NT) continued to make news. Power and pump failures resulted in waste water containing 19 times the safe drinking water level of cadmium being released. Government  and environment spokesmen had different views as to the environmental implications given dilution occurring in the creek.