Friday, March 6, 2009

The dying river

There's a good post and discussion thread here about the jockeying and jostling for states' rights to the waters of the Murray, an issue obscured beyond all clearing by the web of politics at all three levels and the many variations on the theme of short-term self-interest that have always determined the fate of the river.

Here it is at its mouth end: this is the northern reaches of the Coorong on December 27, 2008.

When I look at the photos of gangrenous toes on cigarette packets, my first thought is that I am looking at creeping death. That is what we have here.

Observe the salt and scum, the struggling vegetation, the colour of that ripple just beyond the shore. And imagine, if you will, the smell that hit me as I got out of the car to take this photo, a smell as of large and equal parts of three-day-old dead fish and freshly excreted human shit, left to ripen for an hour or two under the South Australian midsummer sun.

It was recently pointed out to me by someone involved in the Royal Commission of the mid-1990s that the proponent women, as they were called, in the Hindmarsh Island affair always maintained that if the Hindmarsh Island bridge were built, the river would die.


Anonymous said...

"the proponent women... always maintained that if the Hindmarsh Island bridge were built, the river would die."

I was a mature-age undergrad back then, & the aquatic biologists lecturing us insisted that the river was doomed unless things changed pronto. And that they had spent the previous decade saying so to as many govt bodies as they could.

This is a long-foreseen predictable disaster. One driven by greed, bloody-mindedness and Eastern-state parochialism. If I was Rann, I'd metaphorically declare war, send in demolition squads under cover of darkness, get rid of some of the most egregious water storages.

It's that serious.


naomi said...

Margaret Simons' Hindmarsh Island Affair makes the point about the river too - and yes, there is egregious river storage upstream. It's killed a host of lesser NSW rivers, like the Culgoa, but they are rivers so far north. With the Snowy dry, the Murray can't function. It's very sad.

Bernice said...

There is so much I want to be able to say, but frankly I'm wordless in the face of the immense grief I feel about the Coorong, the river, its tributaries, flood plains, and our utter stupidity and rapacious greed that have caused this.

Helen said...

Me too Bernice.
The vegetation struggling in the foreground is spurge, isn't it? so, a weed.