Fresh water : new perspectives on water in Australia by Potter, Emily Claire

By Potter, Emily Claire

Is water a source or is it the resource? Is it anything to be ate up or does it have a lifetime of its personal? This selection of essays addresses the serious and contentious factor of water in Australia and indicates a necessity to considerably reconsider our dating with this basic substance.

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The success of pilot watering programs—for example, to rehabilitate red gum forests in the Chowilla floodplain—is lauded via the press, and the public appear satisfied that the government has undertaken its commitment to the Living Murray Initiative, albeit at least once the full volume is released after 2009. 15 If one uses only the short time frame provided by instrumental data and confines that to the river channel, then in fact the water has become fresher. 16 The recent call for River Murray flows to be increased to save the Coorong is an example of how the selection of sites that deserve River Murray water is political and lacks the understanding afforded by a longer-term perspective.

The Coorong is not dying because it lacks flow from the River Murray; its present condition is a function of reduced marine flushing and the increased input of fine sediments from erosion. Restoration of flow to maintain the mouth is a worthy goal, but it is a far more challenging act of salesmanship to propose the release of critical fresh water resources to the ocean for the purpose of maximising salt water intrusions. Of greater concern is the lack of interest by some catchment managers in even short-term data, if their management goals are antagonistic to the evidence.

2 Large engineering projects began in the area during the 1920s. 3 The dams now regulate the previously variable water flows by holding floodwaters back in large storages. Today, large water storages in the basin have the capacity to store a massive 35,000 gigalitres (one gigalitre equals the amount of water in a thousand Olympicsized swimming pools). 4 With the reduced flow of water in the rivers, the networks of floodplains, wetlands, swamps and soaks have dried out, or, where water is permanently stored, forests and country have been drowned.

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