Story telling from Australia
It’s the equivalent of someone leaving the gate open on a farm, only worse because this was deliberate. Someone let the water out of Menindee Lakes.
A lake system that normally holds three times more water than Sydney Harbour is now virtually empty, thanks to a release of more than 300 gigalitres in 2013 that left so little in the lakes most of it has since evaporated.
Can you imagine the outcry if they drained Sydney Harbour?
When I first went to live in Broken Hill Menindee Lake looked like this:
Now it looks like this:
According to the ABC Menindee Lake has been bone dry since mid way through 2014, and that’s why Broken Hill is on Stage Three water restrictions. Traditionally, Broken Hill’s water supply has come from the lakes.
There are a lot of angry people in Broken Hill, and you can understand why. As one local said, “It’s going to take a natural disaster further north (such as massive flooding in Queensland) to combat a man-made disaster here.”
It’s only flooding further north that will encourage sufficient water to flow into the Darling, and they’re still locked in drought further north. The situation isn’t helped by cotton farmers diverting whatever water they can to plant more crops. I’m sorry to point the finger, but why grow cotton in a semi-arid country like Australia, where water flows are never guaranteed?
Labor has successfully pushed for a senate enquiry and around $500m has been pledged to find a permanent solution to Broken Hill’s water supply. Meanwhile the mighty Darling River is slowly choking to death.
Rob McBride’s compelling two-minute u-tube video says it all.
Drought has not been declared in this area, yet there’s a critical shortage of water.
A desalination plant is now processing the salty dregs of what’s left in the lake, and when that runs out Broken Hill will switch to bore water, forecast to last only until 2019.
Rumour and gossip spread quickly in a town like this. People point to unexplained skin rashes and blame the water, yet the local hospital investigated and found no sudden increase in skin conditions. I suspect the worry and insecurity of not knowing when the water problem will be fixed doesn’t help the situation.
Whatever solution is proposed let’s not forget that without regular flows, the mighty Darling River will stagnate and die.
Surely we cannot allow that to happen.