The Times, 9 April 2009

Maude Barlow, ‘Senior Advisor on Water to the United Nations’, on her very brief visit to South Australia, is reported to have said, (The Times 9.4.09), “It is --- shocking that the water that could protect and restore it (the River Murray) is not being released for political reasons”.

But this outrageous statement is probably not entirely her fault as she would have believed what she was told by her hosts; the River, Lakes and Coorong Action Group. I wonder if they told her about the drought?

At the end of March the total water held in the major upstream storages for all purposes was only 1,161 gigalitres and it does not take a rocket scientist to consider the area of the Lower Lakes and calculate how much water is needed to raise the water level to their pre drought condition - somewhere near 1,300 gigalitres.

If this last available water had been released months ago only some of it would be here now, the lakes would be half full (but with levels still falling), all irrigation would have ceased and towns and cities across NSW, Victoria and South Australia would have run dry.

Now that would be shocking, (and if the drought continues it may yet happen).

Ms Barlow also said “The construction of weirs, dams and desalination plants is the worst set of solutions possible.” But did her hosts explain that the proposed weirs are, and have always been, not a choice but a last resort when there are no choices left?

I am amazed that the River, Lakes and Coorong Action Group continue to make these outrageous claims when the facts so clearly contradict them. Do they think we can’t do the sums?

Trevor Harden

Clayton Bay