May 9th, 2013 by Warwick Hughes
The comment by CP on my 2007 article -There never was a rain shortage to justify seawater desalination for Perth’s water supply – has prompted me to post the May 2012 reply from WA Minister The Hon Bill Marmion.
First – here are some relevant links – 2002 article in The West Australian Water bosses snubbed plan
This page has a graphic showing the effect of thinning – third graphic down.
“Effects of catchment thinning at Higgins near Dwellingup from WC online report”
Reply from the WA Govt Water Corporation to an article in the Rockingham local paper June 2005 The Sound Telegraph – thats Cockburn Sound.
On 14 March 2012 I emailed the WA Minister -
Dear The Honourable Bill Marmion,
You should know that Perth dam catchments are blessed with rainfall averaging over 900mm per year – and that is just in the May to October runnoff season.
Yet by decades of not managing catchment vegetation efficiently your water supply authorities are progressively decommissioning your network of dams – great facilities mostly put in place by the sweat, foresight and prudence of earlier generations.
This graphic demonstrates the relentless loss in catchment efficiency.
I have more online with my article “2011 update 37 year Perth dams catchment rainfall trend – nearly a Thousand GL of water wasted over 15 years by not managing catchments”
Please make sure you checkout my 3 page word doc linked at my online article;
“There never was a rain shortage to justify seawater desalination for Perth’s water supply”
December 4th, 2007
To improve the resilience of the Perth water supply using the most environmentally friendly and low cost methods – here is what you could do Minister.
 Order that dam catchment vegetation be managed so as to aim for a catchment efficiency figure of near 6%.
 Order that the Gnangara pines be cut forthwith in favour of native bush – the pines value as saw logs is probably less than the value of the Gnangara Mound water that they are wasting, taking water values as per the average of your desalination plants.
I would suggest that after those measures take full effect – dam levels should recover to where you might be able to close down some of your very expensive seawater desalination capacity. That would save many millions of taxpayer dollars.
You should also be able to postpone the expensive venture to tap deeper groundwater. More savings.
Please let me know if you have any questions Minister.
Here is the reply from Minister Marmion.
Dear Mr Hughes
Thank you for your email dated 14 March 2012 regarding the management of
I recognise that vegetation has been contributing to a reduction of inflow into surface water reservoirs of Perth’s forested surface water catchments.
A trend in reducing rainfall since the 1970s is also a considerable factor in this reduced catchment recharge . The assertion that rainfall to our dam catchments is over 900mm per year is generally true . However, this rainfall is declining markedly through the south west and is below 900mm in the significant Mundaring Weir catchment.
It should also be noted that rainfall reduction and streamflow to dams is not a linear relationship.
Once groundwater disconnects from the streams there is a significantly greater reduction in streamflow.
A recent study by the CSIRO (currently in review , pending publication) has found that the denser vegetation in Perth ‘s forested catchments is responsible for approximately one-third of the run off decline to our reservoirs. The remainder is mainly attributable to rainfall decline.
The Department of Water (DoW) has been researching this issue for some time and has also been working with other agencies and researchers on options to address
vegetation management issues . A prime example is the DoW and Water Corporation’s Wungong Catchment Thinning Trial, which is investigating the impacts of increased forest thinning on improving surface water catchment recharge in Perth’s forested water catchments.
The DoW has also contributed to the development of the Department of Environment
and Conservation ‘s (DEC) next Forest Management Plan regarding the issue of forest vegetation management and its impact on forested surface water catchments. I understand the draft plan is expected to be available for public comment by late 2012.
The DoW is also coordinating a scientific review of the rehabilitation option for mine bauxite rehabilitation in the northern jarrah forest to inform future practice.
You may also be interested in the following CSIRO report which provides information on current and future water yields of both aquifers and surface’water catchments,
I appreciate your interest and demonstrated concern for the future of Perth’s water supply.
HON BILL MARMION MLA
MINISTER FOR ENVIRONMENT; WATER
11 May 2012
Posted in Water | 5 Comments »
April 21st, 2013 by Warwick Hughes
Posted in Water | 4 Comments »
April 11th, 2013 by Warwick Hughes
Thanks to Romanoz for alerting us to this fascinating research – see his comment #5. I now have the 20MB download – Antarctic Climate Change and the Environment – dated November 2009.
Under 22.214.171.124 Atmospheric data derived from ice cores
The last para on page 43 starts – Ice core sea-salt as a potential proxy for mid-latitude winter rainfall variability. The full text on p 43 & 44 is saved here if you click on “Read the rest of this entry” at the end of the post.
Fig 2.8 shows salt content of ice varying from 1300AD and the text says – [ The work in progress indicates that southwest Western Australia experienced periods of higher mean winter rainfall, with high interdecadal variability during 1300 to 1600 AD, followed by lower mean but less variable winter rainfall from 1600 to 1900 AD, which is similar to the past 50 years (Goodwin, in prep.).]
The text ends by saying – [This long record would be of enormous economic benefit to all water users in Western Australia.]
Fig 2.7 shows that in the phase illustrated in panel b, the SW of WA is affected by higher readings of MSLP (mean sea-level pressure) – more finer weather.
So WA water authorities and politicians should take note – there is evidence that pre-1975 SW WA rainfall was not some constant high-rain regime. The post-1975 lower rain regime may be a perfectly normal phase of long term cycles and nothing to do with Greenhouse as they have claimed ad nauseum – Chapter and verse for a decade or more. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Climate indicators, Cryosphere, Water | 4 Comments »
March 27th, 2013 by Warwick Hughes
I see it has been operating for 18 months and “…SA Water admitted the plant is likely to be mothballed in 2015 after its warranty period expires.”
Opposition Leader, Steven Marshall, says the Government should not have doubled the plant’s capacity from 50 to 100 gigalitres. “The original cost estimate for the 50 gigalitre site or infrastructure was going to be $500 million. We now find out the Government’s spent $2.2 billion,” he said.
“That of course is not money that the Government has paid. That’s money that every single water consumer in South Australia is going to be paying from now on.”
Sounds like another episode in the string of Australian desalination disasters and White Elephants.
I was looking for information summarizing the Adelaide water supply. This metro area map shows a lot of reservoirs and pipelines from the Murray River. However I can not find figures showing how much scheme water is sourced from rainfall around Adelaide and how much is from the river.
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March 21st, 2013 by Warwick Hughes
This story broke here in fanatasy-land a day or so ago but the roots go back two and a half years to October 2010 and earlier.
I have just faxed the ACT Chief Minister an open letter with ideas on reforming ACTEW. Here is the essential text.
Dear Chief Minister,
Re this ~$234K understating of one of the top ACTEW salaries.
Let us be clear here – this issue has been running for at least two and a half years.
I understood that the original +$600K figure (which was excessive enough) – came from a Canberra Times FOI request in 2010; if not under FOI then at least a persistent request for information that took months to be answered. Now we know the 2010 answer from ACTEW was wildly wrong and has stood until now.
Here is the 2010 story saved on RiotACT from two and a half years ago.
Mark Sullivan worth half a mil per year? – 8 Oct 2010
Clearly ACTEW needs major surgery and the following points might be just a start.
 Obviously they could source a replacement for less than half of what they are paying the current CEO. Review all salary scales and re-align with utilities from similar sized cities.
 ACTEW needs to be divorced from AGL in all areas.
 ACTEW should be pruned back to being an agency tasked to deliver the cheapest electricity and water to Canberra – prune back the top heavy ACTEW board and top management structure – sever non-core functions.
 Shut down their Civic offices and relocate to cheaper premises at depots in Fyshwick.
 ACTEW needs telling by Govt to cease all their “community sponsoring”. To the extent that worthy “community organisations” need financial help – a Minister should handle that task and make decisions to pay out taxpayers money through a Dept in an open and transparent process.
 ACTEW has wasted hundreds of $millions on gold plating our water supply while in the thrall of doomster climate change dogmas. A big contributor to blowing out the ACT debt.
 By “gold plating” I mean the unnecessary Murrumbidgee to Googong Water Transfer which should be put on “care & maintenance” at least cost to taxpayers.
 Your predecessor Chief Minister and Labor Governments contributed to ACTEW cost and debt blow-out by delaying construction of the no-brainer enlarged Cotter Dam.
And I have not started on wasteful Green power schemes – electric car scheme.
Posted in Water | 7 Comments »
March 16th, 2013 by Warwick Hughes
The BBC is reporting – New Zealand North Island hit by worst drought in 30 years. Curious to see some rainfall graphs I turned to KNMI Climate Explorer but it was not easy getting updated data. The GHCN V2 data assembled by NCDC in the USA has many data gaps post 2004 and ends anyway in March 2011 – see picture below. The CRU data ends at 2009. I wonder why – it still rains here and there – did somebody stop paying their salaries ?
So I turned to a shorter term partly satellite based data set from GPCP to bring the graph up to date at Dec 2012. The GPCP might reflect rain over both land and ocean – but that is what we have.
Note the grid area chosen misses out Southland and much of Otago west of 170°East. New Zealand should have rain data from say the 1860′s – if anybody has up to date station data please let me know – or please pass on URL’s to any published New Zealand rain history graphs.
This is a common feature when researching climate data – to find that recent data are worse than old data.
Perfect from 1900 to 2004 – then gaps abound.
Posted in NZ Climate Science Coalition, Water | 16 Comments »
February 14th, 2013 by Warwick Hughes
It will be more interesting when the plan sees the light of day. When the Coalition makes it into Govt they will find entrenched water bureaucrats wedded too much to “Wentworth Group” ideas that would naturally oppose the vast majority of projects in this report. There has grown in Australia an influential group of interests in favour of more expensive water.
We are certainly paying in our water bills for the last 25 years or so when Green Anti-Dam dogmas have had too much influence. Anti-Dam sentiment allied with arm-waving arguments exaggerating the 2002-2009 drought have contributed to several uneconomic seawater desalination plants being constructed. Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane desal projects are costing us multi-tens of $Billions and stand as huge “white elephants”.
Some things the Coalition could do without building a single dam.
First review all environmental flow specifications with a view to cutting them back. How crazy that the Thomson Dam for example has 35% of inflows wasted to the sea. Should add that on 5 Feb 2012 I posted – Possible Kimberley region nation building dam projects
Never used plans going back half a century.
Posted in Water | 5 Comments »
January 2nd, 2013 by Warwick Hughes
I thought this marvellous anti-development beatup too good not to share – “CSG water may pose risk to coast: experts”
May we ask – and before 2002 they did not know that groundwater can seep to the sea ?
Posted in Water | 5 Comments »
November 8th, 2012 by Warwick Hughes
Posted in BoM Australia, Climate indicators, Water | 8 Comments »
November 5th, 2012 by Warwick Hughes
Posted in BoM Australia, Water | 2 Comments »