Urgency of drought in SE Australia

21 Apr

Lateline last night had segments about the issues the following maps from the Bureau of Meteorology represent. Click pics to see full size.



Some rain, as you may see above, but not enough.


That video from CNN went up yesterday.

VIRGINIA TRIOLI: The Prime Minister this week became the water realist of them all, when he announced all irrigation allocations from the Murray-Darling would be cut to zero if no decent rain fell in the next six to eight weeks. And the backlash was immediate. Irrigators said they’d lose their farms, agricultural groups claimed food prices would increase four-fold and weather forecasters couldn’t agree whether rain was imminent or whether it was a far-away hope. But with Victoria still refusing to join the Commonwealth’s $10 billion management plan for the Murray-Darling, what’s the immediate future for the food basket of [our] country?

Professor Peter Cullen has worked in the field of water resource management for over 35 years and is the leader of the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists. I spoke to him earlier about the need for an organised approach to water management and the skills shortage Australia now faces in the experts required to do the job.

Professor Peter Cullen, welcome to the program….

VIRGINIA TRIOLI: Tell us about this six to eight week urgency that the Prime Minister was speaking of yesterday, about that window of opportunity that we have to perhaps get ourselves on track, after which things start to fall apart. Why is that time frame important?

PETER CULLEN: Well, we’ve been, we had a very bad year last year with very few inflows. What we’ve all been hoping for were good autumn rains this year that would put a bit of water into the storages. Now, we’re halfway through autumn and we haven’t had the rains. And so, the longer it goes, the less the chances there are of getting a reasonable amount of water in the storages.

VIRGINIA TRIOLI: So, so winter rains wouldn’t do it?

PETER CULLEN: Well, we tend to get good autumn rains and sometimes some spring rains. And the ground is now so dry that getting a lot of run-off is going to be a challenge. So I don’t think any irrigators were very surprised by the Prime Minister’s announcement, I think they’ve realised that the allocations were not likely to be there. But it’s probably been a wake-up call to the rest of the community that hey, we’re in serious trouble and now we’re going to be losing permanent plantings of trees and grapes and vines. That’s pretty serious and a major economic impact on those communities…

See Virginia Trioli speaks to Professor Peter Cullen, the leader of the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists, about water management.

Posted in January 2007 by tarleton (age 15).

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Posted by on April 21, 2007 in Aussie interest, climate change, Current affairs


2 responses to “Urgency of drought in SE Australia

  1. Daniel

    April 21, 2007 at 7:38 pm

    This is an excellent post, Ninglun. As one who lives right in the middle of the drought I can vouch for the dire situation. All of my dams are empty and I’m providing my cattle with water from a bore. The Autumn pasture growth has burned off already and there’ll be no grass for winter once the frosts start.

    We watch the weather news intensely every day but, when they predict rain, it rarely ever comes. What a job they have! If they were paid on results they’d starve.

    Trees are dying all over my property and the roos invade what’s left of the gardens nightly.

    City people (in the main) have no idea, no comprehension! But soon the drought will catch up with them.


  2. ninglun

    April 21, 2007 at 8:52 pm

    We had a taste with what happened last year to the price of bananas. I do know the Central West area from around your way out through Bathurst, Orange, Molong, Hill End, Mudgee, Wellington — though it’s a while since I have been out there. I have seen bad years out there, but nothing as long-lasting or as severe as lately. Your short account says it all really.

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