Friendly grilling for Perth Water Corporation at WA Parliament Estimates hearing

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.

New Zealand votes to keep the flag – slap in the face for trendies, elites and media

Being NZ born I take an interest in events across the ditch but understanding the results of the flag referendum last week is far from simple. There was a vote in November-December to select the design which ran against the current flag in voting over past weeks. From reading news starting almost a year ago the whole idea seemed to be driven by Prime Minister Key – a panel of VIP’s was assembled – many designs were looked at – five options were put to the first vote late in 2015 – there was much media backing for change – then the winner ran against the current flag this month.

Full size graphic. The NZ Herald justifiably says – Maori flag attitudes a puzzler – There was no support for the Koru design in the first referendum and Maori did not favour the silver fern this month. The All Blacks have possessed the silver fern symbol for a century or so which IMHO rules it out for the flag.

What exactly are the three NSW large scale solar power plants generating?

I have been saving NemWatch screenshots offline for a few months now to get a handle on what the three NSW large solar power plants actually produce out of their rated capacity of 211MW. Plants are at Nyngan 102MW & Broken Hill 53MW – and Moree 56MW. I made 69 readings, mostly in March (36). If there are more than one per half hour slot – then they are averaged.

AGL’s Nyngan and Broken Hill plants combined are expected to produce 359,000MWhours of electricity per year which equals 40.98MW on a 24/7 basis.

Was March 1940 hotter than March 2016?

The BoM thinks our Indian summer is important enough to rush out Special Climate Statement 55 – prolonged March heatwave affects many parts of Australia – I noticed Canberra mentioned in the table on page 15 and ran a few checks –
The BoM Time Series page (based on Acorn) shows that for NSW and SE Australia March 1940 had the hottest max but in their page 15 table the BoM are quoting successive days over 30 or 35 or whatever.
My chart shows the progression of the days for 1940 vs 2016 and we will see what can be said next month.

And of course we know that few stations have daily data digitised before 1957.

Adelaide seawater desalination plant in the news during a wet month for most of South Australia

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

Will South Australia walk the talk and close their coal fired electricity generation?

Last October South Australia was talking big about closing their last coal fired power stations near Port Augusta in March 2016 – Alinta to shut SA coal mine, power plants early – we will see. What do readers think? This chart of daily generation shows they would have to work their gas fired units much harder if coal closed.

NemWatch lets you see real time generation sources but does not show imports and exports. Thanks to Peter Bobroff from the site for these daily data which reveal much.

Tasmanian electricity crisis explained day by day

Thanks to Peter Bobroff from the site for these daily data which reveal much.

The last day of Basslink transmissions was 20 Dec 2015. It is fascinating that the cable failed a few days after exports were started. What was the rationale behind the decision to sharply increase Hydro production 16-17th December to export to Victoria – at a time dam levels were low? After Basslink failed it took a month to ramp up gas. Will try and get intraday day data in the week up to the break. A week ago I posted – “Base Load power is now a myth” so say renewable energy enthusiasts
Checkout NemWatch for real time electricity generation in each State and see how often wind is near useless.

US conducts poll in Australia over Chinese lease of Darwin Port

Just saw this – Adam Giles branded ‘dumb’ for Chinese port deal amid calls for US to explain secret polling – The Turnbull Govt should “man-up” and find a technicality in Commonwealth powers to void this lease and reverse this colossal stupidity. Last November I wrote – Is there a more pointlessly stupid Govt decision than leasing the Port of Darwin for 99 years?