A former salinity campaigner warns of the dangers of ignoring a salinity threat in the Goulburn Valley.CATHY WALKER November 20, 2012 4:03am
Alfred Deakin, recognised as a pioneer of irrigation in Australia, famously told State Parliament in 1896: ‘‘Irrigation without drainage is useless.’’
Shepparton’s John Dainton recalled last week that during his many years of involvement on water bodies and in salinity action projects, he often used the quote from the man who later became Australia’s second prime minister.
Mr Dainton, the retired former Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority and Goulburn-Murray Water chairman, said nothing had changed: Deakin was 100 per cent correct. But he worries that in 2012 the advice is still being ignored.
Mr Dainton said the current height of the water tables and their implications for salinity on agricultural land was ‘‘absolutely alarming’’.
‘‘This is a wake-up call, particularly to the government. It’s both a state and federal issue,’’ Mr Dainton said.
He said the only reason salinity in the Goulburn Broken region dropped off the radar was the low water table during the years of low rainfall.
‘‘The drought fixed all that up — but it’s a temporary fix.’’
As a farmer, Mr Dainton became involved with the Salinity Pilot Program Advisory Committee in the late 1980s ‘‘to see whether the community could solve the very serious problem that you couldn’t see’’.
And as soon as test wells began popping up around the place, ‘‘farmers were knocking on your door asking what the hell are you going to do about it’’.
‘‘We’re past all that, surely,’’ he said.
‘‘The education has been done.’’
Dealing with salinity should always be a priority in irrigation areas, Mr Dainton said.
While he acknowledged big improvements in agricultural practices, he said drainage to address potential salinity problems caused by flooding events and irrigation should be tied to modernisation.
‘‘It should be addressed within the Murray-Darling Basin Plan; to me it doesn’t address salinity issues all that well,’’ Mr Dainton said.
He said millions had already been spent on drainage projects that were never finished and now needed money thrown at them, and ‘‘the CMA should be singing out loud and clear’’.
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Police investigating a break and enter at a Mulwala club more than 10 years ago are renewing their appeal for public assistance by releasing an image of a person they believe has information to assist them.
Tatura’s Victory Hall is set for a big year as preparations get under way to celebrate the hall’s 90th birthday in September.
Former district resident and award-winning television producer Joanna Werner will no doubt be shopping for a glitzy gown ahead of the Emmy Awards in New York on February 20.
Rochester Secondary College school captains Dom Atley and Tim Poole have been accepted to study biomedical science in the first step towards becoming doctors.
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Finley Henry Matheson was bestowed one of the highest Australia Day honours.
Heathcote Hostel residents were treated to a visit from Heathcote’s favourite horse, Sub Zero, as part of Australia Day celebrations.
Recent weather conditions have come as a mixed blessing for farmers, with high rainfall and humidity providing a respite for irrigators as well as difficult growing and picking conditions for fruit growers.
Darren McLoughlin only started playing croquet seven years ago.
From orchards to harvest to shelves, a new exhibition will celebrate the Goulburn Valley’s iconic fruit industry. The Photos of the Fruit Industry exhibition will run as part of the SheppARTon Festival in March and aims to share memories and history of an industry that has shaped the region.
Former Benalla footballer Tom Rockliff has been named captain of the Brisbane Lions Football Club.
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