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Water shortages

I get The Guardian weekly and, over recent months, it has run an excellent serious of articles on global water (especially groundwater) shortages. I know a bit about the situation in China and India but the problems faced by California and the Middle East are also huge. The situation is grim and could lead to [...]

Investing in infrastructure with the possibility of severe future climate change

Suppose government is thinking of building a desalination plant to deal with future possible severe climate change. Despite the current sound water supply situation over the next 10 years or so this is a reasonable supposition. Suppose further that the expected future discounted benefits of such a project are B(t) and the expected construction and [...]

Droughts & flooding rains again

It was miserable weather in Melbourne again today – cold and wet – and further rain is expected over the weekend. To whinge a bit more: 6 the last 7 times I’ve played golf I’ve got drenched and it was a repeat on Saturday and today (updated).

I’ve been reading about the 1997-2009 drought – [...]

Murray Darling Basin Draft Plan

The MDB Draft plan was released today. It is complicated and long – I have done little more than glance through it. The length and complexity has not stopped irrigators and conservationists from attacking it from different perspectives. Extra water diverted to the environment to flush out the system and provide therapeutic flooding is set [...]

Northern food bowl myths

When the Coalition announced this week their proposal to double food production in northern Australia by means of a set of dams my mind wandered to thoughts of the great Bruce Davidson and his monumental study, The Northern Myth, that was written more than 40 years ago. I read it in my final years at [...]

Urban water supply & insurance

I have been reading with interest the draft report of the Productivity Commission on urban water supplies*. A specific claim made is that the use of a ‘real options’ or adaptive approach to urban water planning would have reduced the costs of water supply augmentation hence enabling lower water prices to consumers. For the cities [...]

Risky water investments

This is an expository talk that I prepared for the Victorian Centre for Climate Change Adaptation Research (VCCCAR) earlier this week. It relates to our project with the VCCCAR on “Enhancing Water Infrastructure Provision with Climate Change”. It shows how stochastic dynamic programming can be used to guide water investments in the face of uncertain [...]

MDBA “Guide to the Proposed Basin Plan”

The complete MDBA’s “Guide to the Proposed Basin Plan” is here. I have been going through it with some difficulty. I think there are good environmental grounds for don’t think the environmental case it presents is compelling. It is too easily dismissed as ‘protecting a bunch of fish and birds by imposing much higher food [...]

Development, water supply & sanitation

I am attending an Institute for Human Security conference on the Millennium Development Goals tomorrow and chairing a session on water supply and sanitation issues. The MDG’s are quantitative targets the UN and 23 other organizations seek to achieve by 2015 – they include poverty reduction, education, health and other targets. Questions have been raised [...]

Renewable resource models & groundwater management

I once worked on renewable resource modeling (fisheries, forests) but could see that – conceptually at least – the same types of models could be adapted to groundwater problems. One such problem was examined at the recent PhD conference I attended by QUT’s Wasantha Athukorala. The main difference with respect to ‘renewability’ in these latter [...]

Getting informed about the MDB

The ABS have just released a compendium of water use and other statistics for the Murray Darling Basin. I found it useful and valuable for understanding the MDB. Some of the choicer observations.

Physical Attributes. The MDB covers 14% of Australia’s land area mostly in NSW (56%) and Queensland (24%). A fair slab of Victoria is [...]

Irreversible destruction of the Murray River’s lower lakes

The imminent destruction of the freshwater ecology of the lower lakes of the Murray River on the grounds that upstream freshwater supplies are insufficient to flush them out and that stored water suppliesin the river system must be safeguarded for human consumption might well be justified on triage grounds but it is nevertheless an alarming [...]

Cockies cranky about not receiving all benefits from inept publicly-funded investments in leak plugging

An article Bush Bites Back in Saturday’s Age provides a perspective on the Brumby Government’s daft ‘Food Bowl Modernisation Project’ which will cost $2 billion ($1 billion from recent Rudd Government generosity) to plug leaks and evaporation losses in irrigation canals in order to increase suppliers of water for all – for local farmers and [...]

COAG & the new water agreement

Last Thursday I went to a talk by Professor Mike Young on sustainable management plans for the Murray-Darling Basin run by the Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society at the Elephant and Wheelbarrow pub in Melbourne. Mike made a presentation based on this paper (well worth reading) and commented on the recent COAG meeting’s water [...]

Water buybacks in the MDB

I posted recently on the water buybacks about to occur in the Murray-Darling Basin to provide increased environmental water flows. John Quiggin also made an post based on an AFR article he wrote. At the time I scouted around for a brief of the current state of play. This article by Asa Wahlquist in The [...]

River red gums at risk from cowardly Labor environmental policies

From The Age on the tragic fate of Victorian River red gum forests. 70% of these forests in the Murray-Darling Basin are in decline. I have already posted on the need to boost environmental water flows to these forests – they need a decent drenching every few years – but Victorian Premier Mr Brumby has [...]

Foreign control of Melbourne’s water?

More suspect economics from Jason Dowling The Sunday Age. HUNDREDS of millions of dollars of Victorian water profits will flow overseas because no local companies are capable of building and running Victoria’s $3.1 billion desalination plant.A strong field of international water companies is bidding for the plant, with the winner set to control a third [...]

Urban water pricing

Today I have been at the Wodonga campus of La Trobe University attending an interesting workshop on urban water pricing.

John Quiggin introduced the major ideas of the workshop with an interesting paper presented by teleconferencing from the University of Queensland. The actual teleconferencing worked quite well from our perspective though John could not see [...]

Groundwater & Australia’s rivers

I posted a week ago on the controversy surrounding the possible double counting on water supplies by ignoring the role groundwater plays in generating stream flow. I have just come across a report by hydrologist, Dr Richard Evans, which sets out the issues accurately in clear, non-technical language with easy-to-follow diagrams. He sets out what [...]

Accounting for groundwater use

According to Bill Heffernan about 40% of the inflow into the Murray-Darling Basin comes from groundwater. Therefore accounting for groundwater and stream flows separately will overstate the availability of water supplies in the MDB by 40%. Indeed, in some river valleys, up to 90% of the river comes from groundwater. If the groundwater is pumped [...]