Our back up plan was to go for a paddle on Lake Buffalo. We came here for fishing / a picnic between Christmas and New Year, and it was very pleasant. The upper reaches of the lake are far from the madding speedboats, and have pretty inlets to explore.
Doesn't it look pretty?
You see, we were here between Christmas and New Year, and the scene was very different. You can see where Jerry is standing in the left photo - 3 months ago his ankles would have been in the water. None of the bright green would be visible - it would all be under water. It's hard to tell from a photo but we estimated that was a drop of at least 8 meters in the water level. And to give you an idea of scale it took us about 5 minutes to drive to this part of the lake from the other end. That's A LOT of water that's gone.
A quick check of the water company site shows that since we visited the lake has gone from nearly 100% capacity to just over 30% - IN 3 MONTHS.
A quick tour around some other regional dams for our area shows:
- Lake Buffalo - 65% EMPTY
- Lake William Hovel - 64% EMPTY
- Hume - 98% EMPTY
- Dartmouth - 80% EMPTY
"Hume Dam is the major operating storage of the River Murray system. The storage regulates the River Murray, and re-regulates water discharged from the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Scheme.So it's a major water supply for hundreds of towns, hundreds and thousands of people, parts of 3 states not to mention farmers and other agricultural industries in the area. And lets not forget that the Murray River is one of our largest and most important rivers. The fact that a huge tract of the Murray is effectively closed due to blue-green algae barely rates a mention in the news - it should be a front page national scandal. So should the fact that there isn't enough water to keep the river flowing and healthy.
Releases from Hume Dam and downstream tributary streams supply irrigation, domestic and stock and urban demands to Victoria and New South Wales, and provide about one-third of South Australia's entitlement. In very dry years, releases are made specifically for South Australian requirements and are supplemented by transfers from Dartmouth Dam."
And yet on the radio / news / in the papers we're told not to panic, and many of the major towns in the area are on stage 1 restrictions (or even no restrictions) - and they are still building new housing estates in the region to house more people. Oh, and lets not forget they're building a pipeline from our region to take water to Melbourne. Perhaps it's time to reconsider extending this up to QLD to take away some of their excess water?!
Surely it's time we all got serious about water? If it's not time to panic now (albeit a productive kind of panic that leads to useful action), when will it be?