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’’.
The redevelopment of Shepparton Library, which will feature accessible shelving, a teen-specific area, a Skype booth and internet-enabled work stations, will be completed in the next two months.
The Ovens & Murray qualifying final between Yarrawonga and Lavington on Saturday left spectators talking more about the standard of umpiring than the two competing teams.
Greater Shepparton City Council was successful in securing the National Cutting Horse Association Victorian Futurity Cutting Horse Championships for 2014 and 2015, with this year’s event scheduled from September 10-14 at Tatura Park.
The Kiss Angels, 50 Shades of Hope team have come up with a creative way of fundraising for the Relay for Life, a purple potty.
District hotels and businesses may change rosters with penalty rates for casual employees on Sundays set to be cut.
Students visit local businesses for reading lessons
Bottle thrown at Jason Cole in bitter aftermath to Seymour-Benalla game on Saturday.
A truck driver is lucky to be alive after crashing into a Jerilderie home yesterday morning.
Chef and co-owner of Heathcote’s Willow Room Brent Loam is thrilled with the listing in the 2015 Age Good Food Guide
Cobram kids learn about health with hospital as state-wide obesity campaign is launched.
Murray Irrigation to search for new boss after Anthony Couroupis finishes with the company.
A few anxious customers were outside the closed gates of the failed Bee-Jay Machinery business on Goulburn Valley Hwy in Shepparton on Tuesday morning, wondering what would become of deposits they had paid for tractors and other machinery.
A sophisticated hydroponic cannabis system was discovered by police at the Victoria Hotel last week.
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