Sanction the Weir
by Ken Jury
Senior Journalist (Marine & Aquatic Ecology)
Adelaide needs the weir. Urgent action is needed now. Not in twelve months or even six months, but now.
The reality is that Adelaide does not have enough water for one year in local reservoirs and must take water from the River Murray. Adelaide used 219 GL last year. This winter we've had good runoff into the reservoirs that are now holding 198 GL, which is their full capacity. This means that Adelaide will be short of water by the end of this summer by 21 GL. And that's using last year's usage rate. Minister Maywald reported on ABC 891, 18th September 2009 that there would be a shortfall of 50GL for Adelaide’s water supplies.
We need to understand the problems confronting the lower river below Lock One and take a serious look at the state of this final stretch of the river.
1) Of the 80 wetlands below Lock One, only three have any water and 14 are at an extreme risk of acidification.
2) Any water below Lock One and moving into the intake pipes runs the risk of picking up acidified heavy metals (from these 'at risk' wetlands)that could find a place in Adelaide's drinking water.
3) Serious slumping and loss of land, with cars taken to the bottom of the river, and 20 holiday homes that are teetering and ready to topple.
The reality is that the weir must be started now.
The situation in the last section of this once mighty river is now at its lowest level and condition. Given it will take 12 months to complete the weir. It's possible that it's already too late. As mentioned in the article "Weir delays could cost River Murray", the intake pipes below Lock One should be removed and re-installed above Lock One at Morgan where water is cleaner and without the problems associated with the acid sulfate soil(ASS) conditions.
What you could be drinking
So not only is the government not moving the intake pipes above Lock One, they are also not building the weir below Lock One.
The government is hell-bent on not pushing for the approval for the weir until Garrett makes his next statement on 27th January 2010. It's therefore a sure bet that the decision will be delayed again until the state elections are over. We've endured many delays with this decision, and any more delays will wipe out any hope of a weir until well into 2011. By then the full force of the pending lower river and lakes catastrophe will be before our eyes.
Fast forward to late summer, April 2010. At what location will Adelaide get the 50GL of water it needs? As it stands now, Adelaide's only choice will be from the current intake pipes below Lock One.
Yes, it may well be shock and horror when it comes to future fresh, clean top up water for Adelaide and surrounding communities.
Senior Journalist (Marine & Aquatic Ecology).