The weekly wash-up (February 21st)

River and water news – February 21st, 2014

Climate trends demand better response to drought  While the Commonwealth government is putting together an assistance package for farmers, there are concerns about this reactive approach to climate change adaptation. CSIRO scientists claim “As the rate of change accelerates, being responsive won’t be the most cost effective thing to do. We need a more strategic approach to adaptation, otherwise we will always be behind the eight ball.”

Billions of litres of water lost through aging network  Western Australia’s auditor general has found the Water Corporation is losing billions of litres of water more than it should each year, mainly due to leaking pipes. The Water Corporation will need to spend tens of millions of dollars in the next two decades to replace ageing pipes in its network. Ongoing water loss affects the sustainability of supply, reduces revenue and can undermine water saving initiatives.

Captured Murray cod throws up golf ball  A fisher along the Murray River got a surprise when he went to photograph the 68cm Murray cod he had caught. The fish ‘‘regurgitated’’ a white Knight golf ball. A regional fisheries officer said examinations of Murray cods’ stomach contents suggested it was common for them to consume a variety of items from tomatoes to oranges to golf balls. Being a large predator fish, it sucks things in with its big wide mouth.

The Einasleigh River upstream of a proposed weir site to irrigate sugarcane. Photo: G. McGregor.

The Einasleigh River upstream of a proposed weir site to irrigate sugarcane. Photo: G. McGregor.

Gilbert study’s – I-FED impact   Integrated Food and Energy Developments (IFED), a group of six Queensland investors, wants to develop a 65,000-hectare vertically-integrated farm sustained by irrigation water drawn from the Gilbert River catchment. But the Wilderness Society, among other groups concerned about the environmental impacts of development in the north, has seized on a  CSIRO assessment saying it invalidates the plans. The CSIRO reports found that irrigation of only 30,000ha was feasible in the Gilbert catchment.

Why global water shortages pose threat of terror and war   US intelligence is warning of the dangers of shrinking resources following fresh data from satellites used to track the world’s water reserves. The imagery shows us is that groundwater depletion is happening at a very rapid rate in almost all of the major aquifers in the arid and semi-arid parts of the world. During the next 10 years, many countries important to the United States will experience water problems – shortages, poor water quality, or floods – that will risk instability and state failure, increase regional tensions, and distract them from working with the United States. Water, on its own, was unlikely to bring down governments.

Top research questions for natural resource management   Natural resource managers, policymakers, and scientists in the US agree about the important research questions that need to be answered to increase the effectiveness of natural resource management policies. Respondents to a survey judged the most important of the 40 questions to be the quantity and quality of surface and groundwater that will be necessary to sustain human populations and ecosystem resilience during the next 100 years.