Home > Anarchy, Environment, Fiscal Armageddon, Water > This is NOT a natural disaster!

This is NOT a natural disaster!

The tragic loss of farmland and livelihoods in central NSW is NOT a natural disaster. 

The NSW government has stemmed the flow of the Lachlan River, so farmers around Lake Cargelligo are dying just as much as the Lake is dying.

This is too important to treat lightly.  My heart is heavy seeing these pictures in my own State:

To quote directly from SMH:

Lake Cargelligo, a settlement of 1300 in the geographical heart of NSW, was once a holiday haven for swimmers and waterskiers. Now empty shops line the street and even the post office is for sale.

On Tuesday hundreds of those who are still here gathered to listen to a travelling roadshow of water bureaucrats about what was going to be done with the little bit of water that remains in the dam upstream.

The Lachlan River, muse of Banjo Paterson and lifeblood to tens of thousands in the region, is being cut off at Condoblin, with only small flows being released below. Towns further south-west will go without.

If they did not do this, State Water staff told the meeting, the dam would be sapped by February.

The plan was met with uproar.

”Why are we expected to take the pain for the whole valley?” one man yelled. ”You’ve forgotten a whole section of the river,” a woman said through tears.

In splitting the river, the State Government has split the people of this region. It is not the first time water has been held back to conserve what is left. A similar plan involving controlled releases is in place for the Namoi River.

But since the Water Minister, Phil Costa, made a decision to restrict the river earlier this month, tempers have flared among those downstream.

Farmers with thirsty cattle want to know why people upstream in Forbes are still allowed to put sprinklers on their lawns, and why fruit farms still receive water, albeit at reduced rates.

They also want to know if this is the future of water management in a state where almost 74 per cent of the land is in drought, and hotter and drier conditions are on the way.

”If this is the Government’s climate change policy,” said Patti Bartholomew, a cattle farmer, ”then God help NSW.”

The Lachlan River winds from Wyangala Dam, through Cowra, Forbes, Condoblin and almost to the Victorian border. It is a region heavy with grain, cattle and sheep that has endured three devastating droughts in the past century.

”Just now there is a howling drought. That pretty near has starved us out,” wrote Paterson more than 100 years ago of Boolilgal, a town at river’s end.

But this is a dry like no other.

Ten years ago Wyangala Dam was at 99 per cent, a wall of water 25 storeys high licked the top of its wall. Since then the inflows have been the lowest on record, less than half of what they were during the Federation drought. The dam is now less than 5 per cent full.

As water disappears, cracked creek beds and muddy embankments are left exposed. Animals searching for water are getting bogged up to their necks.

The Herald saw a farmer crawl out on logs and sink his hands deep into the thick mud to wrench out his neighbour’s sheep. Most of the people the Herald spoke to are sceptical about climate change, but according to CSIRO and other climate models, they are some of the hardest hit. ”Certainly the southern part of the Murray-Darling Basin, which includes the Lachlan, [is] looking at hotter and drier projections in the future,” a senior research fellow at the Climate Change Research Centre at the University of NSW, Dr Jason Evans, said.

Upstream, at a meeting in Forbes on Monday, scenes were very different. There were no interjections from the floor. People stayed for tea and sandwiches. One man, who asked not to be named, said he would be voting Labor for the first time at the next state election.

Ian Smith, a cattle farmer, has bores on his property that provide him with a secure water supply. ”I can’t really see they’ve mismanaged anything,” he said. ”There’s just been no rain.”

Bores are being sunk all along the Lachlan as towns such as Boolilgal and Oxley look to shore up their supply of water. But it is not an option for many Lake Cargelligo farmers. Some have invested heavily only to discover the water is salty and useless.

Rod Middleton and his wife Leanne live with their three sons on a cattle and grain farm.

The creek that has been their water source, a tributary of the Lachlan, is dry. The pump sits on the exposed creek bed. ”I think the worst thing about it is the mines and fruit trees still getting water and we’re not,” Mr Middleton said.

The young farmer, whose parents came to the area 30 years ago, said he would have preferred to see the river run its course, whatever the consequences. ”The fairest thing would’ve been to let it run till everyone’s out, rather than have the top end get themselves through till next year and us being out now.”

Let history record that this is not a natural disaster, that this was and is  perfectly predictable, that this is one of the worst cases of government negligence in the long history of government stupidity and insane zoning and planning, that this is comparable to the loss of the Aral Sea in Central Asia due to EXACTLY the same idiotic short-term government planning!

First, maps showing average rainfall are now available for all of NSW (indeed for the whole country).  We all know these areas are subject to drought.  This is a once-in-a-hundred year drought – but these droughts should occur once in a hundred years, so they are going to happen.  You have to plan for them.

What is the obvious solution?

The obvious solution was never to grant farming leases and farming rights on areas of NSW land that would be subject to sustained drought or over-farming.

Farming land should have been retained in areas of high rainfall, close to the population centres of NSW, so that food security for the NSW population was maximised.  Areas in Dural, in Hornsby, in Penrith, in Southern Sydney… all these outer “suburbs” of Sydney should have had their zoning as farmland preserved.  Farmers should be on this land – not on land in drought-striken central NSW!

Why are they way out there and not close to the cities?  Zoning decisions of a NSW govt bureaucrat!

The “natural market” would have prevented this if there were no zoning laws arbitrarily imposed by govt.  Farmers on marginal land (without drought assistance) would have given up on farming in central NSW decades ago and focused on farming in more productive high rainfall areas.  Most farmers in these productive areas would never have sold their land to residential developers, because the returns from farming would have been strong.

You don’t believe me?  Go to Europe.  Before insane govt bureaucrats took over zoning, people “naturally” organised themselves.  In old European cities you can still see farms within 20 kms of major metropolitan areas.  There are farms within a 20 minute drive from Paris!  A 15 minute drive from Amsterdam!

Why?  Because these “plans” were not drawn up by a NSW govt bureaucrat, but by God.  This could be considered “anarchic” – but it works!  Farms are still close to cities.  People can still buy farm-fresh produce produced locally.

In Australia, as a young, highly bureaucratised nation, local govts wanted to squeeze every last drop of money out of surrounding land so re-zoned ALL the land around cities as either residential, or industrial/commercial.  There is no mix of residential and rural anywhere in Australia close to our major cities.

This is not natural.  This is not the way it should be.  Sydney has one of the highest rainfall yields of any area in NSW.  People originally settled here because it was fertile land.  Then govt came along and tried to squeeze every last drop of development rights from our highest yielding farmland.  Millions of megalitres in Sydney gets flushed down stormwater drains, whilst farmers get pushed to the edge of the earth, pushed into marginal areas never meant to be farmed.

If I hear from one more idiotic govt spokesperson that this is a “tragic” natural disaster, I think I’m going to puke.

There is no hope for this State with idiots like this in charge of our future. 

And just recently, adding to the pain, Kristina Keneally (possibly the dumbest person in politics – and that’s saying something!) took a photo opportunity beside a central NSW dam at 4% capacity, trying to show compassion to the local people for this “natural” disaster. 

Errr…

(1) The dam is man-made, by govt (so is its location).

(2) Govt zoned the area fit for human settlement years ago.

(3) Govt gave excessive water rights to farmers that produced the disaster.

(4) Govt zoned other areas closer to major cities as exclusively residential, so that’s why farmers are pushed out to these unsustainable areas.

This is a classic example of criminally negligent, short-term govt planning, resulting in a predictable man-made disaster.

And now a govt idiot sits there beside the dam they built, looking on forlornly as though this is an act of God.

These are the same idiots who want to tackle climate change.  When these govt disasters follow them in the Co2-laden jetstream to Copenhagen.

I really can’t stand this level of stupidity any more.  I just can’t take it.

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  1. December 16, 2009 at 5:51 am

    Wow, thats just sad, govrnment needs a shake up. Get everybody out there an decide what the best plan of attack is for your community. Demand your rights and let hem know you’ll campaign against them next time come elections come up if they refuse to thright thing.

    I feel for you.

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