Thursday 20th of February 2020

KBR's "Twin Lakes" Revived Under Water Federalisation

As the likelihood of a Federalised Murray-Darling river system increases,A previously abandoned water saving plan has been revived.

Rejected by the SA Rann Government for "political reasons" a $5 million feasibility study for a Twin Lakes water system now looks likely to go ahead under Federal Government stewardship.

KBR, written up in today's Advertiser as a "natural resources management group" have been conferring with Federal Water Minister Turnbull about the project.

Initially touted as being capable of creating a water flow that would keep the Murray Mouth open, the plan would separate Lake Alexandrina into an inner satwater lake with a freshwater perimeter. KBR estimates saving 100 gigalitres of water annually due to reduced evaporation in Australia's largest lake.

While presenting the idea to local groups, KBR engineer Tony Read suggested that the project should be a Public Private Parntership.

Inquiries about the project to the local council were initially being fielded personally by Premier Rann.

Another KBR project by the same engineer, a hazelnut farm further up the Murray that would involve the company installing a water pumping station on the Murray, was delayed due to overseas investors withdrawing their funding because of "foreign policy issues".

KBR last week lost nearly $20 million US dollars it had attempted to charge the US Government for payments to armed security guards in Iraq.

The company, formerly controlled by US Vice President Dick Cheney is currently facing US Senate investigatins for alleged "war profiteering" during the US-led occupation of the country.

Mr Cheney will be visiting Australia in two weeks. His last visit was as CEO of KBR's parent company Halliburton

Nuancing the deal

That could be why the government will refer to "the Americans" (only a whisker away from 'those Americans'), instead of the usual "our allies" over the next couple of weeks.

Pity Alex in the room alone with Cheney, if the Chinese haven't been scared out of the South Pacific by then.

How many more ?

Trevor, what worries me is that I more than suspected that this project was going to rear it's head after the transfer of water control to Howard. Rann was skiteing on the 7.30 Report the other night how he had negotiated non-privatisation of the Murray. He also made that same promise on Day One of his current time. He doesn't mention PPPs, of which he appears to be a proponent.

When he claimed this particular success the other night, was Rann telling the truth, or was this just stageplay?

If such a case as theTwin Lakes exists there are bound to be others. How many Murray-Darling PPPs,you have to wonder, have just been Federalised ?

Here's the link to the Advertiser piece.  Of particular interest is this passage

"The commission wants SA to support the feasibility study, but SA is not prepared to support it for political reasons," Mr Read said.

"I don't think it is the cost ... the thinking seems to be that if Twin Lakes goes ahead and generates 300 gigalitres of the 500 that's needed, it will take the pressure off the other states to do things SA thinks they should do."

Under the Living Murray Initiative, SA is partnering Victoria, New South Wales and the Federal Government to return 500 gigalitres of water to the River Murray by 2009.

 

 

NSW Water Pressure

Reading through a water amendment debated in NSW Parliament at the end of 2005, I've begun to wonder how much lobbying pressure was being applied from outside South Australia fot the Rann government to adopt the Twin Lakes concept.

[extract from NSW Hansard, December 1 2005]]

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Better management of the Menindee Lakes would save at least 200 gigalitres per year—an option that is available to the Government, right now, but one that it has failed to take up. A commitment by this Government to fix the Menindee Lakes and work with the South Australian Government to address the evaporation losses from Lake Alexandrina would be a welcome change to the complete lack of vision this Government has in relation to water management in New South Wales at present. It has been estimated that the concept of the twin lakes proposal for Lake Alexandrina may save 300 gigalitres in evaporation. Jointly saving 500 gigalitres per year with the Menindee Lakes scheme improvements from better managing just two of the major lake systems in the basin would be a far better investment in the environment, and would provide a more far-reaching environmental outcome, than a highly expensive option of simply buying water from irrigators to secure preferences from the Government's Greens colleagues

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Interesting that a NSW Nationals MLC (Rick Colles) is so well informed on the concept, wouldn't you say?

How many other pollies in how many parliaments were as well informed? Who briefed them?

By the way, there's one very important claim missing from the publicity material now.  When Mr Read announced the project in March 2005 he stated that  it would keep the river mouth open.  If he was wrong about this then you have to wonder about the other claims. 

Silt

A while ago I went fishing with the local policeman at Narrung. We were standing on the end of the jetty, gazing out over Alexandrina, when I asked him what he thought of Twin Lakes.

"Silt will be the problem," he replied. "When things go missing in there, they're bloody hard to find. If they find the bottom to build something on, how are they going to control the silt they stir up?"

I've just been fishing through the Hansard of a meeting held at Murray Bridge in 2004, and it looks like my equally unlucky angling partner was right.

At a hearing concerning the Lower Murray Irrigation Area Reconstruction and Redevelopment Program, MLC Ron Sneath explained "Where the water was 80 feet deep years ago, it is only twenty feet now."

One of the sitting politicians (Caroline Schaeffer) asked the head of the state's peak body for irrigators what he thought of the proposal. His response? "We don't think it would work" . Because of time constraints he was unable to elucidate in Hansard... funny about that.

In the meantime... down at Narrung last week I filled up a blow-up swimming pool with river water from the tap for my daughter to play in. You couldn't see the bottom, one foot below.