This is a good sign for those communities – we need Senators who will vote for water supplies to people and water for irrigation. Our pioneers taxed themselves to build dams for people and irrigation – not to waste on environmental flows. At the next election vote ALA 1 – then your selected right of centre groups such as Family First & DLP – then Govt candidates – then Labor – always put Greens last.
To see the election meetings notices you might have to paste the link into your browser. Or use my Senators…link.
On 27 January 2016 the West Australian Parliament Legislative Council held an Estimates hearing with witnesses from the Govt owned Water Corporation. Scroll right down to “Water Corporation” 27 Jan 2016 and click on the bottom link – Transcript of hearing – for a 32p 325KB pdf.
Working through the 32 pages – four issues caught my eye.
In order – at the bottom of page 1 there is a question relating to the sale of the Engineering and Construction Services division of Water Corporation last year.
Hon ALANNA CLOHESY: What was the sale price?
You can read through the pages of obfuscations and stonewalling invoking irrelevant issues including privacy – then on page 4 look at the fifth clause down –
The CHAIR: Just whilst you are thinking of your next question, I just quickly googled, as you can these days. Your website shows a press release “Buyer chosen for Engineering and Construction Services”, and the opening paragraphs says the sale price is $10.4 million.
Cringeworthy indeed for the Water Corporation top people that news they announced to the world in August 2015 comes out like this. But they bounce onwards – upshot was the WC cleared about a paltry $2mill on the sale. Another disaster.
Perth media had this to say – Water Corp chair Eva Skira a director of company which bought its assets 21 Aug 2015
The second issue is that of leaking pipes raised in the question near bottom of page 8 – Hon RICK MAZZA: … As I was saying, a couple of years ago the Auditor General spoke about pipe leakage out of your 34 000 kilometres of pipes. Has there been any work done towards minimising losses?
They talk about this issue and that issue related to leaks for all page 9 but never put a quantity on it – despite media articles being available suggesting that 30GL or 66% of the production from the Kwinana desal plant could be lost through leaky pipes. (on top of that would be losses from evaporation when the expensive desal water is pumped to dams)
The third issue is the statement by Mrs Murphy the CEO of Water Corporation on page 15, fifth clause down one line from the end “….four of the last five years have been the driest ever. It appears to be getting an accelerating drying trend.”
I realise that the context is run-off but IMHO to say “….four of the last five years have been the driest ever.” is misleading without knowing the facts of catchment rainfall – see my chart – and without considering that run-off could be improved by catchment management. Clearly it is a nonsense statement where rainfall is concerned.
But nobody asks about rainfall. Silence.
The fourth issue I thought worth mentioning is near the top of page 21 the first Question after Mrs Murphy mentioned Wellington Dam at the bottom of page 20.
Hon RICK MAZZA: That dam does regularly overflow though; does it not?
Keystone Cops would have been proud of the replies.
Mrs Murphy: It does, but that is largely because the irrigators are not taking the water either because it is too salty.
Mr Moore: It did regularly overflow; it has not in recent years.
Mrs Murphy: A couple of years ago.
Hon RICK MAZZA let them off after not getting a coherent answer.
According to a 2014 Water Corporation Media Release – Wellington Dam has overflowed in 2014, 2013, 2009, 2008 and 2005. I think it was 2007 rather than 2008.
It all reinforces my belief that Perth water policies have for 15 or 20 years now been the worst in the developed world. The ancient Romans would have done far better for less cost.
I saw this enigmatic headline on the ABC – Adelaide’s desalination plant considered a ‘tool’ to boost irrigation allocations during drought – I realize that desalination proponents have taken Australian water policy into the paranormal – but producing expensive desal water to be able to boost irrigation allocations at a time when few areas of SA would be in drought – takes the cake.
March rain to date
Victoria to switch desalination plant on next summer, following decline in water storages – This 3 year rain decile map shows the Thomson catchment is near the border between the dry western part of Victoria and the east which had better rain. The Vic Govt says it is ordering 50GL of desal water for next summer – ironically that is about the exact amount wasted each year from the Thomson Dam in environmental flows through the drought 2002-2009.
I was recently in touch with the WA Dept of Water and asked – With respect to the rain event and associated floods over SW WA on 19, 20, 21 of January 2016 – “do you have a figure for the extra GL that ran to the sea because of that rainfall?” The reply – [The department does not have information directly on the additional flow as no stream gauges are that close to Augusta. If you analyse the flow from the sites feeding in the Blackwood it will give you some idea of the output 609002, 609019, 609022, 609060, 609065 These five gauges are in that area.]
Assuming rain of say 100mm over a 200 x 200km square (40,000 sq km) that would tally 4,000GL falling free from the sky. Full map.
When I have time I will do some checking of stream gauge data. I find it amazing that in the days after a significant rain event that basic parameters would not be extracted and maybe a memo sent around.
Rainfall was lower pre WWI when the wheatbelt was mostly mallee scrub.
A few years ago I wrote – 113 years of rainfall at Merredin in the heart of the Western Australian wheat belt 21 April 2013