Rivers in the Media

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Murray flows low this Easter


PEOPLE along the River Murray system are advised to keep up to date with river level forecasts during the Easter period.


In a statement, Murray Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) head of river management David Dreverman said flows upstream of South Australia will be influenced by the widespread rain that has fallen over the Murray catchment last week.


“Demand for water has reduced considerably in recent weeks, due to the weather, and the MDBA has been reducing releases from upper storages to conserve as much water as possible for next year,” Mr Dreverman said.


“This means if weather conditions become dry, river flows between Hume Dam and Mildura could be quite low for this time of year.”

Mr Dreverman said the impact on river users would mainly be seen in those reaches upstream of Mildura where water levels are not controlled by weir pools.


In an update released on Wednesday, Mr Dreverman said people along the River Murray between Albury and Echuca are advised to be aware of local river conditions.

He said river flows were lower than usual for this time of year, and are expected to drop further in the coming days.

“All river users, including boat operators, stock owners and river pumpers should consider adjusting their activities as a result of the changes to water levels,” Mr Dreverman said.

“Parts of the river that are safe to enter one day might not be safe the next, as river levels drop to expose reefs and sand bars.

“Recreational users should take particular care with the usual precautions of checking the local river height and conditions.”

Mr Dreverman said due to the recent widespread rain, the demand for water out of the upstream storages has reduced to a trickle.

“The amount of water being sent down the river from Hume Dam and Yarrawonga Weir, therefore, will be at or close to minimum flows over the coming week,” he said.

“This will help maximise the amount of water in storages, in readiness for the dry season we are expecting later in the year.

“The minimum flow is 1200 megalitres per day at Doctors Point below Hume Dam and 1800 megalitres per day downstream of Yarrawonga Weir.

“With less water released at Yarrawonga, river heights between Yarrawonga and Torrumbarry Weir are expected to decrease significantly over the next week.”

Mr Dreverman said Lake Mulwala would be managed to meet immediate irrigation demand.

“We expect levels at Lake Mulwala to remain high over the coming week, which will provide good opportunities for recreation over the Easter period.”

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Change the Course to restore one billion gallons of water to Colorado River Delta

PUBLISHED: 15 APRIL 2014   SOURCE: Phys.org; Photo: Erik Rochner

Change the Course, a freshwater restoration movement, will restore 1 billion gallons of water to the Colorado River Delta to support the revitalization of wetland habitats in what was once one of the planet's great desert aquatic ecosystems. Change the Course is spearheaded by the National Geographic Society, Bonneville Environmental Foundation (BEF) and Participant Media.


Labelled as "a milk-and-honey wilderness" by the great conservationist Aldo Leopold after his trip there in 1922, the Colorado Delta is now a desiccated place of mud flats and salt flats. The Colorado River is so heavily dammed, diverted and depleted that it hasn't reached the sea for most of the last half century. Wetlands and habitats crucial to myriad birds and wildlife disappeared along with the river.

Some 380 bird species are expected to benefit from the restoration, as are local Mexican and indigenous communities in the delta. Scientists will monitor the impacts of the flows on the delta's hydrology, vegetation, birds and wildlife.


Change the Course invites members of the public to make a free pledge to conserve water in their daily lives. For every pledge made, Change the Course returns 1,000 gallons of water to a depleted part of the Colorado River Basin.


"With this latest commitment to contribute to the base flow, Change the Course will double the amount of water it has restored to dewatered rivers, streams and wetlands across the Colorado River Basin," said Todd Reeve, chief executive officer of BEF.


Embracing a new model of corporate water stewardship, a number of progressive companies have joined Change the Course to balance their own water footprints by providing funding to support innovative projects that restore flows to the depleted Colorado River.


To date, Change the Course has built a pledge community of more than 50,000 people and helped restore flows to four depleted rivers in the Colorado River Basin as well as the delta.


"With pledges from young people in all 50 states and in 113 countries around the world, it's exciting to see people pull together for an important cause like the Colorado River," added Chad Boettcher, executive vice president, social action, for Participant Media. "We're proud to be part of the effort and hopeful that through similar efforts that bring together diverse organizations and people, we can work to restore other endangered ecosystems."

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Mystery remains over why Condamine River is bubbling

PUBLISHED: 11 APRIL 2014   SOURCE: Courrier mail; Photo: CSIRO Source: Supplied

QUEENSLAND has another mystery that science still can’t pin down: the bubbling of the Condamine River.


After two years and a “considerable sum’’ invested, coal seam gas company Origin has released a scientific report that has four theories but still cannot quite pin down the mystery.


CSG could not be scientifically ruled out by the study but is just one of the myriad factors raised that could be contributing.


The bubbling occurs along a 5km stretch of the river, near Chinchilla, where coal seam gas is plentiful, but the source has always been a mystery and an issue of local debate ranging from rotting vegetation to CSG fraccing.


Local folklore tells of at least one of the seeps that may have been occurring for decades while others were spotted by farmers soon after heavy flooding subsided in February 2012.


The Newman Government has also investigated and found there was no risk to human health and would only say it was consistent with naturally occurring events but investigations by The Courier-Mail later turned up Government documents which said that the gas creating the bubbles was ``consistent with published values of coal seam gas’’, but a definitive link could not be made.


Without an answer the CSG industry has had difficulty fending off claims from activists that its activities were the cause.


According to the Norwest report the bubbles could be from the recharge of aquifers from floods or the depressurisation either naturally or because of CSG wells or uncapped bores.


There was also the possibility that the gas is escaping natural pathways like fractures, faults and springs.


Origin group manager of exploration, development and appraisal Ross Evans said he couldn’t speculate on whether an answer would be found, but the company would keep looking.


“It’s complex geology and gas has been naturally occurring in the shallow strata for some time,’’ Mr Evans said.


“The important thing is to put the monitoring in place.’’


The report from environmental consultants Norwest found that a combination of mechanisms and pathways may play a role in the generation, migration and discharge of gas to the surface at the seep sites.

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Following Anglo American's lead, Rio Tinto leaves Pebble project

PUBLISHED: 08 APRIL 2014   SOURCE: Alaska Dispatch; photo: EPA

Rio Tinto, a British and Australian mining company, announced Monday it was ending its involvement in the Pebble project, a controversial gold, copper and molybdenum play in Southwest Alaska.


Rio Tinto, which owns a 19.1 percent stake in Northern Dynasty Minerals, Ltd., -- the Canadian company that owns the rights to the Pebble prospect -- said it would give its shares to two Alaska charitable organizations, the Alaska Community Foundation and the Education Foundation of Bristol Bay Native Corporation.


The move comes after a series of events that have dealt major setbacks to the Pebble project. In September, London-based Anglo American withdrew from the Pebble Partnership, taking a $300 million hit for doing so. In December, following Anglo American’s decision and facing pressure from some shareholders to divest, Rio Tinto said it would re-evaluate its investment. Then in February,the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced it would temporarily block permitting of the mine pending a special review under a rarely-used section of the Clean Water Act. Under those provisions, the EPA has the power to halt development permanently.


In a statement, Rio Tinto Copper CEO Jean-Sebastien Jacques said the company continues to see Alaska as an attractive location for future investment, and the donation is a way of “ensuring that Alaskans will have a say in Pebble's future development and that any economic benefit supports Alaska's ability to attract investment that creates jobs."


Vancouver-based Northern Dynasty said in a release the company was “pleased” that the shares will go to Alaska organizations. President and CEO Ron Thiessen said, “We look forward to meeting with the leadership of the Alaska Community Foundation and Bristol Bay Native Corporation Education Foundation in the days ahead to better understand their long-term goals and aspirations, and how their ownership interest in Northern Dynasty and the Pebble Project can make the greatest possible contribution to the people and communities they serve.”

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