Category Archives: Local news

save the murray

Follow this link to the SA Murray Irrigators blog to see SAMI chairman Tim Whetstone’s comments about how to save the Murray River. An edited version of these comments appeared in today’s Advertiser and there is a link from the SAMI blog to that report.

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cultural shift needed

How damaging is the cultural perception that Australian farmers can ride through any storm? That is the question being posed by Riverland winegrape and citrus grower Sheridan Alm.

Sheridan has called for a cultural shift to recognise irrigators who are chosing to walk off the land during this irrigation drought.

“It would be best to acknowledge that growers who decide to sell their water are making a very noble decision to exit the industry right now, it should not be seen that you’ve failed and are copping out,” she said.

“The irrigators that decide to exit would be doing their neighbours and the river such a huge favour and they should be on the front page of the newspaper.”

Sheridan has said that irrigators, who can currently access just 2% of their Murray River allocation, need to decide now if they are going to ride out another season and has advised growers to talk to their neighbours and bank managers about their future.

She has also encouraged growers to develop a flexible water budget now, so that they can concentrate fully on just growing their fruit during the season.

Sheridan will offer practical advice to winegrape growers at Some Like It Hot – the wine industry’s premier wine conference for warm climate regions, to be held at the Chaffey Theatre in Renmark on November 6.

Registrations for Some Like It Hot will open next week.

carbon footprint labelling in the wine industry

What will carbon footprint labelling mean for the Australian wine industry? Will it effect exports when a New Yorker realises that it is “more green” for them to drink wine from Bordeaux, instead of the Margaret River, Barossa or Riverland regions?

Dr Vino (Tyler Colman) has covered this area extensively in his blog about all things wine, with a post from October 30 last year on calculating the cost of the carbon footprint of wine quoting from an American Association of Wine Economists working paper he co-wrote with sustainability metrics specialist Pablo Paster.

Among its other findings, the working paper highlights that it is more green for a wine consumer from Chicago to drink wine from France, than from Napa or New South Wales.

Carbon footprint labelling was discussed at the recent 2008 London International Wine Fair, with international retail giants Tesco and Wal-Mart indicating that including carbon footprint information on wine pacakges is of increasing importance.

Director of Natural Resources for the Winemakers Federation of Australia Amy Russell has consequently said the Australian wine industry could lose market share to its competitors if it doesn’t step up to the environmental challenge.

Ms Russell will be giving advice to winegrape growers and winemakers at the Some Like It Hot conference in the Riverland on November 6. Some Like It Hot is convened by the Riverland Wine Industry Development Council and is the wine industry’s premier conference for warm climate wine regions.

a golf course with no grass

Golf clubs voluntarily ripping up their fairways, new housing developments without gardens, and water police patrolling the streets.

This is Las Vegas 2008 – see Matthew Price’s BBC drought diary here and read more about what other countries are doing to conserve water.

Meanwhile a South Australian Government official says the government has no plans to harvest stormwater. That revelation came on Wednesday afternoon – shortly afterwards a media report stated that the CSIRO’s chief water scientist, Dr Bill Young, had said there was enough water in New South Wales Menindee Lakes to release some to environmental flows. According to Dr Young this would have a “definately postive” impact on the dying lower lakes.

However, premier Mike Rann has stated he would be one day dubbed the most negligent premier in the state if he released storagres from Menindee Lakes for the environment. The water is needed for “critical human needs”.

I continue to wonder, during all these discussions, debates and pleas, if the mouth is left to die won’t the problems slowly travel up the river? A new pipeline has been recently approved to pump water from the River at Tailem Bend to Lower Lakes irrigators – will this pipeline have to continue to be moved up the river?

colorado river report

The BBC’s Matthew Price is currently travelling along the Colorado River and reporting on its health and the views of the people who live near it. The first two diary entries can be found here.

The river has been in drought for eight years and, as mentioned in the report I posted yesterday, is hopelessly overallocated. It is only because the states are not using their full allocations that the river is still running to Mexico, just.

Nevada’s attempts to save water are admirable – the Southern Nevada Water Authority seems to realise that people living in a desert just cannot enjoy a lush green lawn etc. They even pass on the message with a bit of humour. It begs the question – why hasn’t the South Australian Government imposed stricter domestic watering restrictions?

a worldwide problem

The Nile, the Colorado River, the Ganges and the Yellow River – some of the largest rivers in the world are also the most susceptible to mismanagement and over allocation.

 

Irrigation is a historical practice – the Chinese have been irrigating since the third century BC and ancient Roman aqueducts that dot the European landscape are still used today.

 

However, rapid population growth and the need for greater food stocks at a global level has seen some of the world’s largest and most important river systems depleted to shadows of their former selves.

 

Read the full report here.

 

The news no one wanted to hear

The Murray Darling Basin Commission announced yesterday that the drought is getting worse. MDBC chief executive Wendy Craik said the news was “disappointing” and that the likelihood of upper Murray inflow being above average for the remainder of winter and spring is very low.

Dr Craik said the water level in the lower lakes has been temporarily stablised but highlighted that low inflows over the next 12 months would be devastating for the area.