Category Archives: Water

Deterioration in BoM rainfall data quality this decade

While chasing updates for Perth Dam catchments rainfall data I have been hit by how common it is to find a marked fall of in data quality this decade. I want to emphasize I have not searched for these cases, they just jumped out in the normal course of checking data. Then I had a quick look at stations relevant to catchments east of Melbourne incl the Thomson, very poor data there.
I wonder why, considering Australia is widely believed to be in the grip of a national rain / water crisis. Our pioneers have little trouble collecting data reliably for the best part of a century and just when the nation is hit by a downturn in rainfall, the BoM appears to drop the ball on what must be one of its prime reasons for existence. I would suggest there needs to be a reallocation of resources in the BoM; more effort on archiving weather and water data history and presenting it free on the www in a usable form and less resources wasted on climate change fairy stories.
Here are the examples, I have taken a screen shot of the gap ridden recent years and you can click the station name links to see all the data for each station at the new and very useful BoM web page. The columns are monthly rain in mm, Jan to Dec left to right, with the annual total in far right column.
MUNDARING WEIR Site number: 9031 Commenced: 1900, full data to end 1996, missing Jul 1987, then OK till 2001, then just as national “water crisis” hits, missing data increases. First 4 from Perth hills Western Australia then a few from catchments east of Melbourne.
Mundaring Weir rain data gaps
Continue reading Deterioration in BoM rainfall data quality this decade

Early May BoM prediction for Queensland dry shot to pieces quickly in June

On 7 May the BoM’s Brad Murphy was quoted on ABC news item headlined, ‘No hope’ of drought-breaking rains for Qld”.

Weather forecasters say hopes of drought-breaking rain in Queensland are over, because the La Nina pattern has petered out.

Forecasters say the recent La Nina caused the flooding in Queensland last summer but ended too soon to be considered a drought-breaker.

Senior climatologist Brad Murphy says it is about to get a lot drier.

“Up in the north you’ve had most of the rain you can expect for the next six months, until the next wet season,” he said.

“There is going to be the odd rainfall around over the dry period, but farmers shouldn’t be counting on getting any more rain between now and the next wet season.

“It’s very hard to say, I mean we can’t put one season down to global warming if we’re looking at over a long period of time,” he added.

“The monsoon finished a little bit earlier than we would have liked and the rainfall in the last couple of months has been quite low.”

Doctor Roger Stone from the University of Southern Queensland says the chances of drought-breaking rain over the next three months are only about 10 per cent.

Just in the first half of June, most of the southern part of Queensland outside the wet tropics, (which are of course now in dry season mode) has experienced good rains as this BoM map for June to date rain anomalies shows.

qld-2-16june2008.gif

Poor old BoM, shot down again.

See also “BoM forecast dry in Queensland contradicts their 23 April modelled rainfall Outlook

Zemanta Pixie

BoM forecast dry in Queensland contradicts their 23 April modelled rainfall Outlook

(Thats the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) in Australia.)

Yesterday the media ran variants of this story below quoting BoM forecasters – ‘No hope’ of drought-breaking rains for Qld
And “Rain hopes go, level 6 water restrictions to stay”
And in the Canberra Times, that faithful mirror of BoM press releases, “Hopes of drought-breaking rain fall”.
Note the BoM mantra several times through the article and at the very end, “Several years of above average rainfall are required to remove the very long-term deficits.” What odd cargo-cult like thinking for one of Australia’s premier scientific bodies. As if “Nature somehow owes us some rain entitlement”. Weird. A National delusion over rainfall.

What a huge about face from the latest BoM Outlook (only 2 weeks old) which is for above average rain over ALL of Queensland for the months May, June, July.

“National Seasonal Rainfall Outlook: probabilities for May to July 2008, issued 23rd April 2008 Higher seasonal rainfall favoured in parts of north & east Australia”.

Thus it appears Professor Andrew Vizard from Melbourne is correct when he says BoM three month Outlooks are often “totally useless”.

It has been apparent to me for years that BoM Outlooks are a waste of money and should be stopped and the BoM has the nation believing predictions of global warming for decades into the future.

An Alice in Wonderland situation indeed.

Open letter to: Minister for Climate Change and Water

The Federal Minister in Australia that is.

Dear Minister Wong,

I note your press release re the Governments newly released $12.9Billion water plan.

The water plan will, sadly, fail to deliver value to Australia because it repeats the same mistakes that have dogged water policy for over a decade now.

Many years of Green anti-dam dogmas given prominence in the media, have tended to inhibit water utilities and Govts. from augmenting or building additional dam sources. This has led to inadequate planning for new supplies and continues to blight Australian water policies. More recently, pessimistic climate predictions from CSIRO, often recycled by media-prominent doomsters and naysayers, has led to policymakers moving away from natural water supplies. The reality of rainfall data going back to the late 19th Century usually tells us that the recent dryer years post 2000 are no worse than earlier dry periods.

You should be suggesting to State Govts that they harvest available, cheaper, low-impact, natural-water close to their metropoli, such as -The WA Govt. should abandon plans for a second $1Billion high-impact seawater desalination factory for Perth.

You could suggest the WA Govt harvests readily-available, cheaper, low-impact natural water close to Perth, such as –

[1] Manage the existing Perth dam catchments so as to easily increase yield per year equal to the 45 GL per year production from your $500 Million Kwinana seawater desalination water factory – which could then be mothballed at great savings to taxpayers.

[2] Today, start cutting down all of the water-hogging Gnangara pines and save at least a similar amount of pumping capacity.

[3] Harvest for cheap desalination a small proportion of the slightly saline water that currently wastes to sea every year in the Avon, Murray and Collie Rivers. Easily producing say 50 GL per year. You could ask the WA Govt if it is feasible to raise the dam wall at the Wellington dam, thus increasing storage.

Shortcomings in WA water policy are covered in greater detail in a downloadable 3 page Word doc report at my internet site: “There never was a rain shortage to justify seawater desalination for Perth’s water supply“.

In the case of the Victorian Govt, you should suggest they amend their short sighted National Parks legislation and build a dam on the Mitchell River and stop planning the money-wasting $3Billion high-impact, seawater desalination factory. Give taxpayers a break for once. Another internet report on Melbourne water issues; is critical of a CSIRO / BoM map and shows several rainfall histories which demonstrate cyclic dry periods going back over 100 years.

In the case of the NSW Govt, they should be told to amend their National Park expansions of previous decades to allow new dam(s) on Rivers north-west of Sydney. They should also cease wasting taxpayers money on the high-impact, needless, multi-$Billion, Kurnell seawater desalination factory. In the case of Sydney I have web pages commenting on the dubious application of CSIRO climate modelling; and various graphics demonstrating cyclic dry periods in the rainfall history of the Sydney region.

In the case of Canberra, the Govt is throwing away money on plans for a waste-water treatment plant to produce small amounts of very expensive water. You should suggest that they actually make a start on one of their perfectly feasible dam projects. I have an internet article on Canberra water resources at;
Canberra water supply, sensible options sidelined by Govt in thrall of IPCC climate models.”

You should address the issue of how the Murray Darling Basin Commission failed to prevent the construction of the colossal water storages on Cubbie station and explore ways to return a majority of these flows to the Darling River where they belong.

The issue of so called “allocations” must be addressed: How ridiculous it is that Govts are allocating water that does not exist in some years.

You should check the feasibility very carefully before using taxpayer funds to subsidise domestic water tanks for urban areas. In most cases these tanks produce very expensive water and it is far more economic of Australian financial resources to augment scheme-water supplies to meet demand. If wealthy people are happy to spend money on water tanks, they should check their facts but that is their business.

Depleting Snowy Mountains scheme water on Snowy River so called environmental flows is unsound and wasteful; benefits a small number of people who have political leverage, and should cease. The Snowy River as it runs, after the Snowy Mountains scheme diversions, has ample catchment to provide for adequate environmental flows. Considering that the exact shape of this or that river catchment has been formed by geological accident over millions of years, it is a silly (Green) proposition that Australian interests are served by this diversion of Snowy Mountains scheme water. In this case Australian interests are best served by the water being retained for flows in the economically more important Murray River.

These are some sound ideas to go on with, all of which will tend to reduce individual householders ever-rising water costs, and increase the resilience of water supplies.

Yours sincerely,

Warwick Hughes

Canberra water supply, sensible options sidelined by Govt in thrall of IPCC climate models.

This long term rainfall trend for the Uriarra district west of Canberra near dam catchments indicates that the low rain period starting 2001 is nothing exceptional and could well represent a return to the pre 1945 lower rainfall regime. Contrary to the thrust of conclusions from CSIRO climate modelling.
Uriarra rain trend 1887-2007 There is no evidence linking the rain trend to some over-arching force of climate change. It is obvious that natural cycles dominate the graphic. Link to more detailed comments on wrong directions in Govt water policy for Canberra.

There never was a rain shortage to justify seawater desalination for Perth’s water supply

Click for 3 page illustrated pdf report 200KB Yes that is a 32 year average of nearly a metre of May to October rain per year.
35 years of Perth catchment rain trends
There has developed in Australia since 2002 muddled thinking at a policy level aided and abetted by a Green media confounding rain and water issues with “Greenhouse climate change” that prevents proper analysis of rainfall and water supply issues.
Click for many other articles re Perth, Western Australia water supply and Govt distortions and propaganda about rainfall issues.

Australian Govt. electioneering squanders $198,100 of taxpayer money to save $2648 worth of water each year.

And this is only in one Perth electorate where they have no hope of winning !!

A mailed election flyer from the Liberals in the seat of Brand based on coastal town Rockingham 50 kms south of Perth crowed about ~$50,000 grants for 4 water saving projects. But when you cost the water saved, at the cost of desalinated seawater currently being produced by the Kwinana desal plant (KDP) which is $1.20 per thousand litres (kilolitre), the total cost is only $2648.

[Note for US readers, in Australia the Liberals are on the conservative side of politics, not like your left of centre USA liberals.]

The figures would look worse if I used the average cost of scheme water to the WA Govt meaning water from dams, underground, water trading and desalination. The cost would be about half of the $1.20 per kilolitre.

It hardly seems possible that such utter ignorance could be running the nation.

Details of the 4 grants:

  • $49,000 to save 400,000 litres PA at Casuarina Nursery, Desal water cost, $480
  • $49,500 to save 463,200 litres PA at Greenfields Primary School, $556
  • $49,600 to save 1,136,000 litres PA at Frederick Irwin Anglican School, $1363
  • $50,000 to save 207,200 litres PA at Tranby College, $249

I emailed the local Liberal candidate Phil Edman but got no reply. I read where if Labor win they will spend $20Million on a centre for water excellence.

Another bad joke on Australian taxpayers.

Distorted science in case for unnecessary seawater desalination projects

Compare the Govt propaganda further on to this actual rainfall for Mundaring which shows rainfall increasing slightly from the low period in the mid 1970’s and 2007 rain since start of May has been average. Click here for larger chart.
Mundaring rain historyNote, graphics updated 2 Nov.
The Western Australian Government through its various bureaucracies has opted for seawater desalination to solve Perth’s supposed water crisis. Read how obvious available natural water sources are ignored and basic science such as rainfall history has for years become the subject of lies, spin and propaganda, now that desalination is “the chosen way”.
Continue reading Distorted science in case for unnecessary seawater desalination projects

Australian Government understating Perth catchment rain

Following above average rain in May-June-July over Perth dam catchments I was puzzled that I had seen an Australian Govt Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) rep speaking on TV late in July saying that while July rain was good May had been dry and June very dry.

In fact long term stations representative of the catchments region received a solid 108% of the May-June-July rain averaged over the last 32 years. This will not be reported in the media.

See various links at: Profligate Govt waste of water following average catchment rain

Seawater desalination questions

Anyone reading my blog knows I think the Western Australian Government has been very premature in opting for very expensive and high environmental impact seawater desalination to augment Perth water supplies when several other vastly cheaper options are available to harvest free rainwater in both dams and local rivers or local Perth region groundwater.

Just quickly to recap the three main areas where supplies could be augmented much cheaper than seawater desalination.

  • Managing bush in dam catchments as it was done ten years ago could add 100 GL per year on average.
  • Cutting the Gnangara pines forthwith and replacing them with a mix of native vegetation and housing could add a similar amount to annual pumping potential on the Gnangara Mound groundwater.
  • The Avon and Murray rivers could easily supply up to say 75 GL per year of slightly saline water which could augment the Agritech Wellington Dam desalination project to around 100 GL per year.

OK ! Have I made my point that turning to ultra-expensive seawater desalination for Perth was totally unnecessary ? In other words, another HUGE COSTLY GOVT MISTAKE.

Now some questions that puzzle me about the current situation.

  • We have a foreign company (or companies ?) engaged in doing multi-billion dollar business (must total $5 to 10 Billion now) with three or four State Governments and yet how many people knows who this company is ?
  • What appears in the Australian media about the foreign desalination company(ies) ?
  • Do they say anything in public in their own right ?

I have been told by a academic water expert from a prestigious Perth university, the sort of place the media contact for quotes on water stories, that “..the technology for desalination is moving forward at an unbelievable rate..”.

Yet the WA Govt. Water Corporation say water from our first seawater desalination plant at Kwinana costs $1.20 per kilolitre but water from the proposed Binningup plant will cost $2.00 per kilolitre. Both water factories are planned to output 45 GL or potable water per year.

Put another way, the Kwinana plant with cost over-runs has cost nearly $500 Million but the proposed Binningup plant is estimated already to be ~$1Billion, over-runs still to come. Are seawater desalination construction costs sky-rocketing like this around the world ?

I am also interested to learn if the proposed $1 Billion Binningup plant was put out for international tender ?

Another issue puzzles me and that is who has been behind the concept that has been floated often in our media in recent years and was even the subject of a referendum in Toowoomba, SE Queensland. This notion that our water shortage is so acute that in some communities we could be forced to drink treated sewage. I am fascinated to learn who has been driving these media campaigns.

Enough questions for now.