The weekly wash-up (August 31st)

The week that was in river and water news – August 31st, 2013

FOI application for Macquarie River pipeline report The Orange and Region Water Security Alliance is investigating lodging a Federal Court appeal against the approval of the Macquarie River Pipeline.   The Alliance says local residents have a right to understand how the Federal Environment Department decided to approve the $50m project to “droughtproof” Orange.

Water woes: Vast US aquifer being tapped out   Nearly 70% of the groundwater stored in parts of the United States’ High Plains Aquifer could be used up within 50 years, unless current water use is reduced, a new study finds. The aquifer is a vast underground reservoir that stretches through eight states, from South Dakota to Texas, and supplies 30% of the nation’s irrigated groundwater.

Eastern US Water supplies threatened by a legacy of acid rain   A new study reports human activities are changing the water chemistry of many rivers in the Eastern U.S., with consequences for water supplies and aquatic life. Over the past 25 to 60 years, two-thirds have become significantly more alkaline due to acid rain speeding the breakdown of limestone, other carbonate rocks, and even concrete and cement.  Rivers impacted include those that provide water for  major cities like Washington, D.C., Philadelphia,  and Baltimore. See also previous post.

The Potomac River in the Eastern US where the long-term effects of acid rain can are still evident. Photo by Steward T.A. Pickett, Baltimore Ecosystem Study LTER

The Potomac River in the Eastern US where the long-term effects of acid rain are still evident. Photo by Steward T.A. Pickett, Baltimore Ecosystem Study LTER

Minister defends Murray River endangered listing   The Federal Water and Environment  Minister says he listed the Murray River as critically endangered because of a loss of biodiversity. Irrigators say they weren’t consulted about the endangered listing for the Murray downstream of the Darling junction, as well as the Macquarie Marshes of New South Wales. The listing is intended to provide an oversight of new, very significant operations such as mining developments.

Murray River buy-backs announced in SA   Murray River communities will be able to bid for shares of $265 million in funding to upgrade farms and return water to the system.  The package was funded in the Federal Budget and expected to help save 40 billion litres of water annually. The savings are to help reach a 3200 billion litre per year target.

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