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’’.
Neighbourhood Watch Week will start with a sizzle — a sausage sizzle to be precise — at Sevens Creek Dve in Kialla.
Victoria State Emergency Service (SES) and other emergency services are preparing for the next round of wild weather in the north-east.
It was clear blue skies last Tuesday for the official launch of the Gargarro (pronounced Ga-gar-ro) Botanic Gardens in Girgarre.
SNAKES will be coming out of hiding as the weather warms up.
KATH Bubb has been recognised for 50 years of service with the Ballendella Red Cross.
IT EXPERTISE in Kyabram has received recognition after Advance Computing won a Microsoft Australia Partner Award in the excellence in regional area customer category.
Seymour A and B-grade in season decider
Extensive rainfall in the Southern Riverina is having a negative impact on farming.
McIvor Creek – in and around Heathcote – has gone over its banks with all our recent rain, flooding streets and causing closures and detours.
Yarroweyah's Katie Anderson will be heading to Wisconsin in the United States after winning the Dairy Youth Travel Scholarship.
After a 30-year career as an accountant in Deniliquin, Peter Skipworth officially retires today.
Tuesday, August 16
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