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’’.
Grahamvale Primary School had a special visitor for its Anzac Day assembly yesterday.
The Yarrawonga and District Cemetery Trust has been awarded a $50,000 grant from the Department of Health to undertake development work at the Yarrawonga cemetery.
Members of Murchison Book Club are hosting a literary lunch with Vivien Achia, author of Marrying Italian — When Love is Not Enough.
Echuca shearer Franky Atkinson has earned himself a return trip to New Zealand next year after an impressive run of performances in shearing competitions.
William Napier, whose remains lie in Rochester cemetery, received the Empire's highest honour for gallantry while fighting for the British army during the Indian Mutiny.
Tongala family hopes for transplant call for six-year-old.
Family of former Seymour man killed in a road crash in Los Angeles before Christmas set up a Melbourne University scholarship in his honour.
Tocumwal's Don Elgin is aiming to compete at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Scotland
The Cancer Council Relay For Life fundraiser is a cause close to the hearts, and feet, of many district residents.
Redgum sculpture is carved at Thompsons Beach, Cobram.
Deniliquin Police ConFest Operation nets 76 drug detections.
Murray Goulburn has lifted its milk prices to about $6.66 kg milk solids.
Benalla's Joda Plex was named Goulburn Ovens Institute of TAFEs student of the year at her graduation this month.
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