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The Clever Country

- Dying of Thirst -

A Proposal for Drought Mitigation in


South-west Victoria and the Lower
Murray Basin

A Work in Progress – April 2007 Edition

Graham Bates

Portland VIC 3305

Tel: 03 5523 2313

Mob: 0418 569000

Email: icebergs@internode.on.net
The Clever Country – Dying of Thirst

Version 11

Copyright - Graham Bates 2007

P O Box 1254

Portland Victoria 3305

Version 1 submitted to Mr Greg Strada, Consultant Engineer and The Hon. David Hawker
MP, Federal Member for Wannon on 13th December 2006

Version 2 presented to Alcoa – Portland Aluminium on 20th December 2006 and The Hon.
Malcolm Turnbull MP, Federal Minister for the Environment

Version 6 presented to ABC Radio on 19th January, 2007

Version 8 presented to David Hawker MP, Federal Member for Wannon on 25th January,
2007.

Version 8 presented to Mr. Anthony Albanese, Federal Shadow Minister for Water
Infrastructure on 25th January, 2007.

Version 9 presented to the Dr. Denis Napthine, State Member for South West Coast, on 7th
February, 2007.

Version 10 presented to Debbie Cuthbertson, Chief of Staff, The Age Newspaper on 12th
April, 2007.

Version 11 presented to Kevin Rudd MP and Peter Garrett MP, Federal ALP on 7th April,
2007.

Version 11 presented to Stephen Martin, Reporter from the ABC Office, Ballarat on 18th
April, 2007.

Version 11 presented to Linda Christian at the Office of Catherine King MP, Federal ALP
Ballarat on 18th April, 2007.

Version 11 presented to Mr Peter Hyett – The Bendigo Advertiser 23rd April, 2007

Version 11 presented for the 3rd time to The Hon. Malcolm Turnbull MP, Federal Minister
for the Water on 23rd April, 2007

Version 11 presented to Glenelg Shire Council on 24th April, 2007 & The Portland
Observer Newspaper

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The Clever Country – Dying of Thirst

Executive Summary ________________________________________________ 5


Introduction ______________________________________________________ 6
Current Situation __________________________________________________ 8
The Big Picture _______________________________________________________ 8
Region of Interest ____________________________________________________ 11
Groundwater Reserves _________________________________________________ 13
Why Build a Desalination Plant & Pipeline? ___________________________ 16
Risks of Complacency _________________________________________________ 16
Rural Sector Collapse______________________________________________16
Farm Walkouts ___________________________________________________17
Bushfires and Firestorms ___________________________________________18
Litigation Arising from Bushfires and Firestorms ________________________18
Export Collapse __________________________________________________18
Our Golden Soil ______________________________________________________ 19
Loss of shelter belts _______________________________________________20
Dust-Bowl Conditions _____________________________________________21
New industries requiring water __________________________________________ 25
Aquifer Replenishment ________________________________________________ 26
New Water Sources ___________________________________________________ 27
Desalination Plants ___________________________________________________ 28
Energy Costs ____________________________________________________30
Delivering Water Resources_________________________________________30
Key Elements ____________________________________________________ 32
Why Portland ____________________________________________________ 33
Portland Aluminium – The Smelter in the Park _____________________________ 33
Power Generation_________________________________________________35
Key Elements ________________________________________________________ 35
Litigation – The Ultimate Motivator ______________________________________ 37
Next Steps ______________________________________________________ 38
Conclusion ______________________________________________________ 39
The need for action ___________________________________________________ 39
Index___________________________________________________________ 40

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The Clever Country – Dying of Thirst

Water Basics

What's a Megalitre?

One Megalitre (ML) is 1 million litres, or 1,000 cubic metres.

One Megalitre covers approximately 1 square kilometre to a depth of 1 millimetre.

One Megalitre is about equal to the volume of 1 Olympic sized swimming pool. 1

1
DPI Victoria Website: http://www.dpi.vic.gov.au/dpi/vro/vrosite.nsf/pages/pavs

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The Clever Country – Dying of Thirst

Executive Summary

This report is a concept plan to counter the imminent drought crisis facing our ‘Clever
Country’ – Australia.

This plan hinges upon a heat recycling process used in conjunction with construction
and development of water infrastructure as follows;

1. Construction of a Multi-Effect Distillation (MED) Desalination Plant at


Portland, Victoria.

2. Utilise 2 methods of reducing heat energy operating costs by:

a. Incorporating the massive heat byproduct generated by the Portland


Aluminium Smelter via Heat Exchanger Technology2 .

b. Sourcing the proven geothermal water-bore structure 1,300 metres


below Portland.

3. Concurrent development of water infrastructure such as pipelines and


pumping stations for supplying potable water product from the Portland
Area Groundwater Reserves northward to:

a. Hamilton, Horsham and other major towns, communities and water


storages between Portland Bay and Swan Hill/Mildura on the Murray
River, (distance is approx 550 kms) or,

b. Hamilton, Mortlake, Ballarat – linking up with the Goldfields Pipeline


that is currently under construction southward from the Murray-
Goulburn River Systems to Bendigo and Ballarat. Distance link-up is
approx 290 kms.

4. Ensure that a proportion of this water flows into the Murray River
enabling both environmental flows and extraction downriver for the
Adelaide water supply.

5. Commencement of groundwater recharge in the Portland Area from the


Desalination Plant.

6. Using water for the ongoing development and maintenance of long-term


drought & bushfire mitigation programmes for topsoils, groundcover and
shelterbelts in the Western & Central Districts of Victoria.

2
See Fact File (pdf file) on Dubai Aluminium – Smelter and Desalination Plant Cogeneration Project –
website : http://www.dubal.ae/mediacentre/news.aspx

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The Clever Country – Dying of Thirst

Introduction

Whilst there has been much debate about whether Climate Change is a fact or a myth,
the reality is that Australia has experienced a continuing series of very low rainfall
events.

In the summer (December) 2006 we faced a significant crop yield failure. Over this
harvest season, wheat exports are predicted to be the lowest in years.

Commonwealth and State Governments are already committing hundreds of millions


of dollars in Drought Relief Programmes. Whilst these measures will assist the rural
community during this drought, they will not provide a solution to future low rainfall
events – lack of water.

The city of Goulburn in NSW, 1 hour north-east of Canberra, is an example of how


bad things can become.3 This story in “The Age” was dated 20th May, 2005.

“Matt  OʹRourke  walks  across  the  dam  that  is  Goulburnʹs  major  water 
source  and  does  not  even  get  his  feet  wet.  He  is  not  God,  but  perhaps 
another  type  of  miracle  is  occurring.  ʺItʹs  raining,ʺ  he  says.  ʺThis  is  not  a 
drought story after all.ʺ 

But  it  is.  The  ultra‐light  shower  barely  touches  the  ground.  What  does 
make  it  disappears  in  the  deep  cracks  ‐  just  five  years  ago,  this  was  the 
bottom of a 10‐metre‐deep, 9000‐megalitre dam. 

The people of Goulburn, one hour north‐east of Canberra, need a lot more 
rain than this. 

Today  their  dam  is  just  8  per  cent  full.  If  the  drought  continues,  the  dam 
will be empty in eight months.” 

3
The Age website: http://www.theage.com.au/news/Drought/Goulburn-could-run-dry-in-eight-
months/2005/05/19/1116361673744.html

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The Clever Country – Dying of Thirst

On the 21st April, 2006, the ABC highlights Goulburn’s worsening situation. 4

“For the past few years the people of Goulburn in New South Wales have 
been  watching  the  water  levels  in  their  city  dam  drop  lower  and  lower. 
 
And this week, courtesy of the drought, the almost unthinkable happened 
the dam has been declared officially empty.” 

It appears that little has been done to alleviate the situation in Goulburn. In fact,
Goulburn has been on Level 5 water restrictions since 2004.

If this is any indicator of what drought can do to other inland cities and rural
communities, then we all need to quickly find some remedy for this dire situation.

We require a massive effort similar in scale to that of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-
Electric Scheme to provide a long-term drought-resistance plan for the nation.

An endeavour of this magnitude will necessarily require leadership, focus, dialogue,


cohesion and planning, between people within Industry, Commonwealth, States and
Territories to succeed.

This report aims to provide input into where some of this effort should be directed.

It provides a strategic plan to deal with the drought in the Southwestern and Western
parts of Victoria, extending north to the Murray Basin, a distance of approximately
600 kms.

4
ABC 2 – Story on drought in Goulburn NSW website:
http://www.abc.net.au/tv/australiawide/stories/s1620882.htm

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The Clever Country – Dying of Thirst

Current Situation

The Big Picture


The average rainfall trends for the past 50 years for Australia are clearly displayed in
the Bureau of Meteorology Map (BoM) below.

It is evident that many high population areas along the Eastern and Western Seaboard
are receiving significantly less rainfall over the past 50 years – population and water
demand is upwards – but the rainfall trend is downwards.

Less rainfall will see a reduction in the harvests from ‘Australia’s Food Bowl’ grains
and sheep/cattle growing areas.

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The Clever Country – Dying of Thirst

The rainfall pattern during the 2002 – 03 drought is clearly illustrated as per the map
below.

This drought had very serious consequences for the nation. Treasury compiled a full
Report on the Economic effects of this drought, as per this web reference.5

The record high prices for cattle and sheep in 2004 – 05 have recently slumped, and
reports from South Australia suggest collapse. 6

“Prices for sheep and cattle have crashed in South Australia after massive 
stock sell‐offs last week. 

Across  many  regions  a  lack  of  rain  has  seen  pastures  dry  up  forcing 
producers to sell off livestock early in the season. 

More than 100,000 sheep, lambs and cattle went through the saleyards last 
week, forcing prices down.” 

5
Dept of Treasury Report Website.
http://www.treasury.gov.au/documents/817/HTML/docshell.asp?URL=03_article_2.asp
6 th
ABC Rural Website – 25 SEPT, 2006 http://www.abc.net.au/rural/news/content/2006/s1747976.htm

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The Clever Country – Dying of Thirst

Victorian and NSW prices are already following this trend as reported in the Infarmation
- Agribusiness website.7

At a lamb sale in Hamilton in Nov-Dec 2006, lambs that would have sold for $90 per
head last year are now selling for $9.

These prices are crashing now because farmers will be unable to feed and water their
stock over the summer period.

Many farmers along the lower southern fodder producing areas in Victoria (extending
West from Geelong to Hamilton/Portland) harvested and baled their hay and fodder
in October 2006, because of the unusually dry conditions.

This practice normally occurs in December.

There have already been a number of farmer suicides in the Murray area, with Beyond
Blue reporting the death of “1 farmer every 4 days.” 8

7
Infarmation Website http://www.infarmation.com.au/common/pdf/MLA_20061016.pdf
8
ABC News Online Website: http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200610/s1764557.htm

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The Clever Country – Dying of Thirst

Region of Interest
The Region of Interest (ROI) of this report encompasses the Southwest, Western and
the Lower Murray Basin in Victoria. The area extends from the Southern Victorian
coastline around Portland, northwards to the Murray River in the Mildura/Swan Hill
region.

Much of this area, including the Mallee and Wimmera districts are under a continuing
cycle of serious drought. The Victorian Dept of Primary Industries – Storage Level
Report at 31st of August, 2006, reflects a truly gloomy picture of this region that has
little in the way of major rivers and streams.

The summary 9 is as follows:

“Volumes in the major storages throughout the State reduced by 1.4% in 
August 2006 (compared with an increase of 8.2 % in August 2005). (see map 
and table)  

At the end of the month, Victoriaʹs share of the volume in major storages 
throughout the State was at 32.9% of capacity, compared with 46.1% at the 
same time last year.  

Storages in the Glenelg/Wimmera Basin are at 6.8% of capacity compared 
with 9% at the same time last year.  

Lake Eppalock is at 4% of capacity (compared with 7.8 % at the same time 
last year).  

Lake Eildon is at 22.6% of capacity (compared with 37.6% last year), while 
Rosslynne Reservoir is at 6.9% of capacity (compared with 14.0% last 
year).”

Ballarat, Bendigo, Hamilton, Dunkeld and other Western District communities are on
Level 4 restrictions as at early December.

9
Victorian Resources Online Website: http://www.dse.vic.gov.au/dpi/vro/vrosite.nsf/pages/water-streports-
storage

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The Clever Country – Dying of Thirst

The graphic below clearly demonstrates the dire situation.

Map Reference:
http://www.dse.vic.gov.au/DSE/wcmn202.nsf/LinkView/F0767547F8F075A8CA257211002D5233B4D07B20BF
8AB51ACA2572100009B86F

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The Clever Country – Dying of Thirst

Groundwater Reserves
As the surface water storage areas in the previous map show a critical shortfall of
water reserves, the groundwater or aquifer reserves show a different picture.

Map Reference: http://www.dpi.vic.gov.au/dpi/vro/maps.nsf/pages/Victoria-NaturalResources-Water-Groundwater-


ga?Opendocument

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The Clever Country – Dying of Thirst

The highest Permissible Annual Volume (PAV) for extraction rates (megalitres) for
groundwater resources10 in Victoria are as follows;

Seacombe - >50, >150 or >350 See 100,000


plan
Lake Mundi - 0 to 30 48,000
Heywood - 0 to 70 21,700
Portland - >200 20,600

Seacombe lies within the East Gippsland region.

The Portland, Heywood and Lake Mundi groundwater resources are within the
Glenelg & Wimmera areas of Victoria.

The current drawdown from the Portland resource is about 25% of the PAV.

The Glenelg Shire and parts of the Wimmera Shire are one of the only areas in
Victoria that has an over-abundance of water, albeit from groundwater resources,
however, with only 6.8% of available surface storage capacities filled, there is already a
significant deficit in groundwater recharge capacity.

The area is known as the Greater Green Triangle Region. 11

“The  Green  Triangle  Plantation  Region  is  comprised  of  seventeen  local 
government  areas  throughout  south‐west  Victoria  and  south‐east  South 
Australia.  

It  encompasses  the  Glenelg  Hopkins  Catchment  Management  Authority 


and Wimmera regions. The Green Triangle covers an area of approximately 
6 million hectares and represents diverse climatic zones and land systems.  

It  is  also  the  largest  wood  fibre  producing  region  in  Australia  (GTRPC) 
(b)”.  

This project will only succeed if groundwater reserves are replaced with sterile
desalination water, otherwise groundwater reserves will be seriously depleted without
recharge.

10
DPI Victoria Website: http://www.dpi.vic.gov.au/dpi/vro/vrosite.nsf/pages/pavs
11
Greater Green Triangle Area Website: http://www.nre.vic.gov.au/dpi/vro/vrosite.nsf/pages/private-regional-
great

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The Clever Country – Dying of Thirst

The map below shows both the area and the rainfall data, for normal years.

Reference: http://www.nre.vic.gov.au/dpi/vro/maps.nsf/pages/Victoria-private-regional-ggt-rain?Opendocument

As there is an abundance of groundwater in the Greater Green Triangle Area, this


region is a potential source of water supply for those drier areas that extend north-
eastward to Ballarat, with a link-up to the Goldfields Water Pipeline, and/or to Swan
Hill/Mildura.

These additional pipelines can also be networked into the Wimmera-Mallee pipeline
network.

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The Clever Country – Dying of Thirst

Why Build a Desalination Plant & Pipeline?

“I love a sunburnt country, A land of sweeping plains, 

Of ragged mountain ranges,  Of droughts and flooding rains.” 12

             Dorothea Mackellar 

We no longer experience the same weather patterns that Dorethea Mackellar did when
she penned her observations about the ‘flooding rains’ that recharge the rivers, streams
and aquifers.

Today we are left with annual diminishing rainfall and increasing cycles of drought.

We are now into the autumn season and already many available surface water
resources are severely depleted. These scarce water resources will place additional
burdens upon a nation already suffering from the stress of drought.

Risks of Complacency
Some risks have already been touched upon, however this list below provides further
detail.

Rural Sector Collapse


The Treasurer, Mr. Costello in an interview on ABC’s 7:30 Report, has already
mentioned that the economy is suffering from the effects of the national drought.

The ABC news on this same night reported that there were significant amounts of
Commonwealth Assistance Funding for people in the rural sector affected by the
drought.

Large inland cities are now approaching conditions similar to those in Goulburn,
NSW – these include Ballarat, Bendigo, Horsham, Hamilton and many others.

We simply cannot allow the collapse of our primary industry base.

12
Poem – “My Country” – Dorothea Mackellar : http://www.dorotheamackellar.com.au/archive.asp

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The Clever Country – Dying of Thirst

Farm Walkouts
There have already been reports of farmers walking off their properties. This article is
in the Australian of 13th October, 2006. 13

“FARMERS are abandoning their properties in droves and thousands of 
Victoriaʹs best milking cows are being slaughtered as hot, dry weather 
pushes the state into a drought crisis. 

Angry farmers in the north have scoffed at State Government warnings that 
Victorians should brace for tough months ahead as crops fail and debt 
soars.  

They say the official response is too little, too late, to save hundreds of 
farmers walking away from properties held by their families for 
generations.  
 
Kyabram real estate and stock agent Peter Croxford toured the district with 
the Herald Sun yesterday, pointing out dozens of farms for sale.  
 
Worse was the sight of thousands of prized dairy cattle awaiting slaughter 
for export to the US.”  
 
ʺWith cows worth $1500 a head as milkers being sold instead for $400 for 
slaughter, itʹs no wonder farmers are walking away,ʺ Mr. Croxford said.  
 
The effect of drought on farmers creates a Catch 22 for country 
communities across the state.  
 
ʺWhen farmers lose income they stop spending at the retail level and staff 
are laid off across the board,ʺ he said.  
 
Mr. Croxford and farmers were critical of the government response.  
 
ʺThe Government canʹt make it rain, but they should be using some of the 
excess in their coffers to subsidise fodder to feed cattle and help provide 
water to keep properties running,ʺ Mr. Croxford said.  

There is a flow-on effect from these events.

When farmers walk off the land in times of drought, business activity in local towns
and cities is severely curtailed and there is no-one left in the land-care role.

13
The Australian website: http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,20867,20573211-5006785,00.html

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The Clever Country – Dying of Thirst

The topsoils are laid bare to all the elements.

Bushfires and Firestorms


The recent firestorm reported from the east coast of Tasmania highlights the need for
immediate development of plans that reduce the bushfire risk.

The Prime Minister has just visited bushfire ravaged areas14 , pledging support of the
Government. This support also needs to be directed toward long term solutions such
as planting fire-resistant shelterbelts.

In January 2006, a bushfire swept through the Grampians in central Victoria. The
only areas to survive, and stop, this fire were tree plantations of Blue Gum under the
management of Timbercorp, a forestry management organization.

There is a DVD available15 with aerial footage that clearly shows that the only ‘patch
of green’ in the fire devastated areas was Blue Gum plantation areas. Whilst they had
been scorched around the edges, the main central areas were untouched.

If these plantations are to be developed as a fire-control or mitigation measure then


new seedlings will require water to thrive in the already very dry conditions.

Litigation Arising from Bushfires and Firestorms


The recent Christmas 2006 bushfires in the Gipplsand area clearly reflect the
community sentiment concerning poor fuel-load management practices that Managers
of National Parks and State Forests are employing. Farmers and people affected have
launched a lawsuit for negligence.

This Class Action is being managed by Slidders Lawyers16 in Melbourne on behalf of


residents who have suffered damage as a result of these bushfires and firestorms.

Export Collapse
Further drought pressure on our nation, which has already been assessed as having
50% of productive farmland declared as drought affected, may lead to an export
collapse.

14
Website for The Australian. http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,20867,20920302-
5006785,00.html
15
DVD available from John Kiely at Timbercorp in Hamilton VIC Tel: (03) 5572 3970
16
Article in The Age Newspaper “Farmers sue State Government”, website:
http://www.theage.com.au/news/national/farmers-sue-state-over-bushfires/2007/03/22/1174153243088.html

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The Clever Country – Dying of Thirst

Australia has always been an exporter of primary produce, however, such a situation
may well force us to import basic grains, fodder etc. Other nations experiencing
detrimental Climate Change effects such as we have, may also have their export
capacity curtailed.

We would then be at the mercy of the international market-place, forced to pay higher
prices and import costs – a nightmare in any Government effort to produce realistic
Forward Estimates.

Our Golden Soil


A key element in our position as a world class producer of disease-free primary
produce is our soil. Without this vital element we will suddenly turn from an exporter
to an importer.

 “Australians all let us rejoice, 

For we are young and free; 

We’ve golden soil and wealth for toil;”  17

Everyone knows about the importance of our ‘golden soil.’

We all know that we cannot afford to lose our topsoil – but do we know why?

This Department of Primary Industries (Victoria) paper, entitled ‘Paddock


Protection & Stock Management During Dry Times’, by John Williamson 18
of Bendigo spells out the facts about topsoil loss.

“In dry periods, soils become more susceptible to wind erosion as a result 
of  the  removal  of  the  protective  vegetative  soil  cover.  This  is  caused  by 
stock  grazing  and  the  trampling  of  the  soil  surface  degrading  the  soil 
structure.  

As a consequence, strong winds are able to erode soil particles, depositing 
them  either  as  drifts  along  fence  lines  or  at  locations  up  to  thousands  of 
kilometers away. Eroded soils and animal  manure can foul both domestic 
and stock water supplies decreasing the potability of the water.”  

17
Australian National Anthem

18
Website of the Victorian DPI http://www.dpi.vic.gov.au/dpi/nreninf.nsf/childdocs/-
2BAF4D73531CD1544A2568B3000505AF-BFCF7D5EBE9AE2BCCA256BC80004E969-
7AB5497C04B0FFE84A256DEA00296590-49FE3D171C310C51CA256BCF000AD4F1?open

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The Clever Country – Dying of Thirst

“Sandy soils are renowned for blowing during dry periods, however all soil 
types are susceptible. 

Erosion  of  topsoils  by  wind  takes  with  it  nutrients  such  as  nitrogen, 
phosphorous and organic carbon all of which are vital for the health of the 
soil and production.”  

“With every 1 mm of topsoil eroded, approximately 13 t/ha of topsoil, 130 
kg/ha of organic carbon, 20 kg/ha of nitrogen equivalent to 40 kg of urea 
and 8 kg/ha of phosphorous equivalent to 100 kg of superphosphate are 
lost.  

Phosphorous  and  some  nitrogen  can  be  replaced  through  fertilizer 


however  organic  carbon  and  nitrogen  take  years  of  appropriate 
management to build up in  soils. 

Although the consequences of soil erosion may not be seen until a number 
of years after the drought, removal of soil through erosion will decrease the 
productivity of the paddock for many years to come.” 

Unless there is adequate groundcover and shelterbelts maintained during the drought,
the most enriched part of the topsoil is at extreme risk of being blown away 19 .

Loss of shelter belts


The Green Triangle Area (Southwestern Victoria) is the largest wood fibre producing
area within Australia.

During the 2006-2007 fire season just over 1,000,000 hectares of bushland in the
eastern parts of Victoria was devastated.

The Ash Wednesday fires of 1983 20 saw extreme weather conditions combine with
severe drought to produce some of the most devastating bushfires that Australia has
ever experienced.

“The  Ash  Wednesday  fires  consisted  of  some  of  the  most  devastating 
bushfires  Australia  has  ever  experienced,  sweeping  through  parts  of 
Victoria and South Australia.  

Weather conditions leading up to the Ash Wednesday fires. 

Between April 1982 and January 1983, Victoria experienced severe drought 
conditions  and  little  rainfall,  resulting  in  its  driest  period  on  record.  A 

19
Website of the Victorian DPI http://www.dpi.vic.gov.au/dpi/nreninf.nsf/childdocs/-
2BAF4D73531CD1544A2568B3000505AF-BFCF7D5EBE9AE2BCCA256BC80004E969-
7AB5497C04B0FFE84A256DEA00296590-49FE3D171C310C51CA256BCF000AD4F1?open
20
Ash Wednesday fires, 1983 website: http://home.vicnet.net.au/~gscfa/ash.htm

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combination  of  dry  grasslands  and  forests,  very  hot  temperatures,  low 
humidity and high wind gusts presented Victoria with a high bushfire risk.  

The temperature was 43 degrees Celsius on Ash Wednesday.” 

“Around  180  bushfires  broke  out  on  16  February  1983,  known  as  Ash 
Wednesday. 

The  largest  bushfires  started  in  Victoria  at  Cudgee  and  Branxholme  (near 
Hamilton), around Mount Macedon, in the Dandenong Ranges ‐ Cockatoo, 
Upper  Beaconsfield  and  Belgrave  Heights,  Monivae,  Branxholme, 
Warburton and in the Otways.”  

Whilst the Blue Gum plantations cover approximately 50,000 hectares and represent
some fire inhibiting potential, the native or natural forests are still high risk bushfire
areas, especially in very hot windy conditions where crown fires destroy everything.

As surface water levels are already extremely low in this area, the ability of CFA
(Country Fire Authority) and DSE (Department of Sustainability and Environment) to
access water reserves will only worsen as summer continues.

Comment
Maintenance of sufficient groundcover and shelterbelts is necessary to prevent
erosion, whether it is caused by dry winds during drought or water erosion
after flooding.

There is also anecdotal evidence supporting shelterbelts as a fire-control


measure.

This requires regular use of water resources to develop, maintain and extend
shelterbelts.

Dust-Bowl Conditions
There have been numerous studies about the American experience in the 1930’s
depression, when drought cycles and depression created the infamous Dust Bowl. 21

“The most important factor in the creation of the major dust storms during 
the Dust Bowl was wind erosion. The combined factors of drought, climate 
misconceptions,  and  poor  land  management  made  wind  erosion  a  major 
problem. Wind erosion is essentially the wind blowing loose topsoil off of 

21
The Causes of the Dust Bowl website: http://snr.unl.edu/metr351-03/jnothwehr/causes.html

21
The Clever Country – Dying of Thirst

the ground. There were a number of reasons this occurred to such a great 
extent during the 1930ʹs.” 

“During the previous decades, the predominant crop planted on the Great 
Plains was wheat. Wheat is not a very good crop in terms of keep the soil in 
big clumps. The fine particles of soil were free to blow around in the wind, 
especially after the crops died in a drought and there was nothing holding 
the  soil  in  place  at  all.  The  farmers  also  did  a  poor  job  of  practicing  crop 
rotation. Wheat was continually planted in the same fields, and the soil was 
broken down as a result. Also, the large amount of cultivated land did not 
have  year  round  vegetation  covering  it.  When  the  land  was  covered  with 
grasses  or  other  vegetation,  it  had  something  to  keep  the  soil  in  place  all 
year long. However, when the land was used to grow crops, it did not have 
a vegetation cover all year long. There were periods during the year when 
nothing  was  growing  at  all.  This  left  the  uncovered  fields  vulnerable  to 
wind erosion. With the increase of cropland, the threat for wind erosion in 
this respect also increased.” 

Australia could suffer similar climatic conditions with high inland temperatures
creating an increase in atmospheric pressure gradients across weather front systems.
This can generate large front windstorms.

Huge tracts of land can be laid waste. 22

 “In  1934,  windstorms  covered  the  Great  Plains.   They  easily  uplifted  the 
soil, blowing massive clouds of dust all over the plains.  

Thousands of people were forced to leave their homes because of the Dust 
Bowl.   

89 million acres of land were severely damaged or destroyed.   

The  Dust  Bowl  only  served  to  make  the  Great  Depression  even  more 
miserable.”

22
Dust Bowl Article, website: http://library.thinkquest.org/26026/History/the_dust_bowl.html

22
The Clever Country – Dying of Thirst

The Australian high dust-storm risk areas are detailed below. 23

In every case it is the destruction of the topsoil that devastates the farming land. 24

“Dust‐storms  are  for  the  most  part  restricted  to  the  drier  inland  areas  of 
Australia,  but  occasionally,  during  widespread  drought,  they  can  affect 
coastal  districts.  The  figure  above  shows  the  average  distribution  of  dust‐
storms over Australia.  

One  of  the  most  spectacular  examples  was  the  storm  that  swept  across 
Melbourne in February 1983, late in the severe El Niño drought of 1982/83. 
The  extended  dry  period  of  the  1930s  and  1940s  generated  many  severe 
dust‐storms,  culminating  in  the  summer  of  1944/45  when  on  several 
occasions dust in Adelaide was so thick that street lighting had to be turned 
on.  

But uncomfortable as dust‐storms may be for town and city dwellers, by far 
their worst effect is the stripping of topsoil from Australiaʹs arable land.” 

23
Australian Dust Storms – BOM website: http://www.bom.gov.au/lam/climate/levelthree/c20thc/storm8.htm
24
Australian Dust Storms – BOM website: http://www.bom.gov.au/lam/climate/levelthree/c20thc/storm8.htm

23
The Clever Country – Dying of Thirst

This photo of the dust storm after the Eyre Peninsula Bushfire in January, 2005 is
indicative of the devastation.

In scenes reminiscent of January 11th, 2005 - the day of Eyre Peninsula's bushfire, this is the view of Saturday's dust storm
blowing over Franklin Harbor from Lucky Bay. Photo: Donna Lamb in Lucky Bay.

In the great dust storm of 1983, in Melbourne the following comments are significant.
25

“At its height, the dust‐storm extended across the entire width of Victoria, 
and  was  many  kilometres  across.  The  dust‐cloud  was  some  320m  deep 
when it struck Melbourne, but in other areas extended thousands of metres 
into the atmosphere.  

It was estimated that about 50,000 tonnes of topsoil were stripped from the 
Mallee (approximately 1,000 tonnes of it being dumped on the city), leaving 
the  ground  bare,  and  exacerbating  the  effects  of  the  drought.  Open  water 
channels in the northwest were clogged with sand and dirt.  

“The  combined  effect  of  drought  and  dust‐storm  inflicted  damage  on  the 
land  that,  according  to  the  then  President  of  the  Victorian  Farmers  and 
Graziers’  Association,  would  take  up  to  10  years  and  tens  of  millions  of 
dollars to repair.” 

25
BOM website: http://www.bom.gov.au/lam/climate/levelthree/c20thc/storm7.htm

24
The Clever Country – Dying of Thirst

8th FEB, 1983 – Dust Storm in Melbourne with topsoils stripped from the Wimmera.

Comment
Wimmera topsoils deposited over Melbourne emphasize the need for the
urgent implementation of mitigation programmes in the Western Districts of
Victoria – the source of these devastating dust storms.

Shelterbelts using Blue Gum plantation or other low fire-risk vegetation can be
developed to prevent erosion and reduce the fire risk.

Such programmes require new supplies of potable water from guaranteed,


sustainable sources that can only be provided by Desalination Plants.

New industries requiring water


In addition to the extensive primary production output from this region, there are also
currently 3 major projects in the planning and/or construction stages in this area;

1. Iluka Minerals Sands Project – Hamilton. This project will draw


groundwater for the whole process from extraction to refining. Whilst the
latest techniques in water recycling will be incorporated into this process,
extended drought may compromise drawdown capacity.

2. Heywood Pulp Mill – Heywood. This project is expected to use 6 ML per


day in 24/7 operations.26 This company will also be using up-to-date

26
Heywood Pulp Mill website:
http://www.heywoodpulpmill.com.au/documents/Panel%20Assessment%20Report.pdf

25
The Clever Country – Dying of Thirst

recycling techniques, however, there will still be water required from the
Aquifer.

3. Penola Pulp Mill – Penola SA. This project has also been given the green
light from the Federal Government subject to remedial habitat work to
save black cockatoo breeding areas. It is of a similar design to the
Heywood mill, requiring 6 ML/day.27

Aquifer Replenishment
Additional long-term reduced rainfall will force governments into adopting ‘fire-
brigade’ policies to meet the threat of drought. When surface capacity fails, authorities
and communities will be forced into seeking whatever water resources that they can
find – this will inevitably lead to the aquifers.

This places an even more vital commitment on adequate planning and


preparation to meet this inevitable situation, because aquifers are our finite,
final, freshwater reserve.

Aquifers can readily be ‘mined’, however there are many scientific papers that stress
the need to correctly replenish these finite resources, as they are really the last
freshwater reserves that we have.

The problems associated with simply taking water from an aquifer system and
providing no recharge capacity is illustrated as follows:

“Anand,  Gujarat,  16th  February  2002.  If  India  fails  to  master  the  game  of 
groundwater  aquifer  recharge,  the  over‐use  of  this  resource  will  have 
disastrous consequences for much of western and peninsular India. It will 
create  serious  ecological  problems  and  put  the  brakes  on  socio‐economic 
progress  in  the  region.  These  are  the  findings  of  researchers  from  the 
International Water Management Institute (IWMI) and a coalition of Indian 
research partners, which will be presented in a special conference in Anand 
on 19‐20 February 2002.” 28

The Australian National Water Initiative (NMI) has just released its report.29

27
Penola Pulp Mill website: http://www.penolapulpmill.com.au/

28
International Water Management Institute Website: http://www.iwmi.cgiar.org/Press/iwmi-tata.htm
29
NWI Website: http://nwc.gov.au/NWI/index.cfm#overview

26
The Clever Country – Dying of Thirst

News media comments such as those below are becoming increasingly prominent in
the public eye.30

“AUSTRALIAʹS  first  national  audit  of  water  resources  has  ʺfailedʺ  the 
states in key areas and recommended urgent work to cut irrigation rights, 
manage bore water and save crucial rivers. 

In  a  stinging  assessment  of  the  slow  progress  of  the  states  to  meet  their 
water reform obligations under the $2 billion National Water Initiative, the 
audit  delivers  a  rude  shock  to  premiers  and  chief  ministers  as  they  hold 
their  own  summit  on  federation  issues,  such  as  water  management,  in 
Melbourne today.  

Its  criticisms  have  also  coincided  with  the  introduction  of  new  water 
restrictions  in  Adelaide  and  Brisbane,  and  likely  tougher  restrictions  in 
Melbourne.  

South  Australia  introduced  the  toughest  water  restrictions  in  the  stateʹs 
history to combat record low Murray River flows.  

In  southeast  Queensland,  the  Beattie  Government  introduced  stage‐four 


restrictions,  which  limit  residents  to  watering  outdoor  with  buckets  and 
cans during restricted times.” 

There have been many recommendations in the NWI for water conservation
measures, in addition to the following major issues regarding:

• Seeking new water sources

• Replenishing and recharging depleted surface and groundwater reserves

• Delivering water resources to areas where they are most needed

New Water Sources


The Gold Coast City has just started construction of a Desalination Plant to provide
adequate water resources for their growing population. There will also be water
infrastructure links to the various dams and other pipelines in the area.31

30 th
The Australian Newspaper 13 OCT, 2006 :
http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,20867,20572341-601,00.html
31 th
The Bay Journal – article of 24 SEPT, 2006
http://bayjournal.com.au/joomla/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=893&Itemid=44

27
The Clever Country – Dying of Thirst

“Early  works  on  Queenslandʹs  largest  desalination  facility  are  underway 


with  Deputy  Premier  Anna  Bligh  and  Gold  Coast  Mayor  Ron  Clarke 
turning the first sod on the site of the new water supply plant at Tugun on 
Tuesday.  

ʺOur  Government  is  investing  significant  funding  in  the  project  with  $80 
million committed for early works such as preparing the site and ordering 
specialized tunnel boring machines,ʺ Ms Bligh said.  

ʺWhen completed this plant will deliver a significant new source of water 
that we hope will prevent an ʹArmageddonʹ water situation.  

ʺThe  project  has  the  potential  to  deliver  125  million  litres  of  desalinated 
water per day by the end of 2008.  

ʺThis  represents  more  than  15  percent  of  the  entire  south‐eastʹs  current 
needs and is sufficient to meet the water needs of at least 400,000 people.” 

This project will cost in excess of $1.1 billion when pipeline connection costs to the
various reservoirs are included.

The following website is relevant in any discussion of desalination plants, as it details


the history and success of these plants in Middle East.32

Desalination Plants
There are several types of desalination plants. The major ones include:

1. Multistage Flash Desalination (MSF) – a thermal process – seawater is


first heated under high pressure before being fed into the 1st “flash”
chamber, where rapid pressure release causes the seawater to quickly boil.
This “flashing” process evaporates some of the seawater, and the process
continues through more “flashing chambers”, each with a step-down in
ambient pressure. The water vapour generated in this process is condensed
and collected from tubing cooled by the seawater feed. Only a small
percentage of the incoming seawater-feed is evaporated and collected. This
method produces about 84% of the world’s potable water from Thermal
Methods. Most of these plants have been built in the Middle East where
energy reserves are plentiful. The main problem with these plants is

32
Water Desalination in the Middle East: http://www.unu.edu/unupress/unupbooks/80858e/80858E09.htm

28
The Clever Country – Dying of Thirst

operating costs and high construction costs associated with using high
quality stainless steel in tubes and chambers. 33

2. Multi-Effect Distillation (MED) – also a thermal process – similar to


the MSF process, however the seawater-feed is not heated under high
pressure. In the MED chambers, reduced ambient pressure is used to boil
water at lower temperatures. Saltwater boils at slightly above 100O C at
Standard Temperature and Pressure (STP). With the reduced pressure
Effect within the MED Chambers, it boils at about 65O C34 . This
significantly reduces the energy and therefore the operating costs to run the
facility. Higher numbers of chambers (Effects) equates to higher
performance ratios.35

3. Reverse Osmosis (RO) – a non-thermal filtration process using


membrane technology – saltwater is pumped at high pressures of 800 to
1,000 psi through a semi-permeable membrane. There are numerous
stages involved in the pre-treatment process, depending on the
contamination levels of the saltwater-feed – i.e. suspended solids and
divalent ions like Calcium and Magnesium. This process is prevalent in the
US, where energy costs are too high for thermal processes.36

Of these processes, MED would appear to provide the best value with its low
temperature operational costs. There is also the requirement that sterile water be used
for aquifer recharge due to the presence in the sea around Portland of a virus that
causes ganglioneuritis, a herpes-like disease that is killing the wild abalone.37 This
would appear to seriously compromise any desalination effort by a filtration process
using Reverse Osmosis (RO) methods.

Strict quarantine protocols should apply to any aquifer recharge process.

Full details about other desalination plants and processes may be found at Annex A,38
in hardcopy versions of this document.

A significant factor in any desalination process is related to the energy levels required
to produce potable water.

33
Introduction to Water Desalination, by Hari J Krishna
http://www.twdb.state.tx.us/Desalination/The%20Future%20of%20Desalination%20in%20Texas%20-
%20Volume%202/documents/C1.pdf
34
“Distillation Plant Development and Cost Update”, by Neil M Wade, page 7 Website:
http://www.desline.com/articoli/4051.pdf
35
Ibid.
36
Ibid.
37
ABC Rural Website: http://www.abc.net.au/rural/regions/content/2006/s1655934.htm
38
Introduction to Water Desalination, by Hari J Krishna
http://www.twdb.state.tx.us/Desalination/The%20Future%20of%20Desalination%20in%20Texas%20-
%20Volume%202/documents/C1.pdf

29
The Clever Country – Dying of Thirst

Energy Costs
The on-going operational energy costs for an MED desalination plant should be
drastically reduced by using the 2 significant heat resources within the Portland area:

1. Heat byproduct of the smelting process at (PA) Portland Aluminium. PA


have expressed an interest in this concept.

2. Portland Geothermal Bores. A number of bores had been in service from


the early 1980s. The Portland 14 bore flowed under artesian pressure of up
to 90L/sec at approx 60O C.39 Whilst this bore has been recently
decommissioned, this site has proven potential for redevelopment.
The full report of SKM (Sinclair Knight Merz) provides 10 pages of detail
about the Portland Geothermal Borefield.

Full costings for such a plant are dependent upon plant size, however, a paper by Neil
M Wade40 of the UK, entitled “Distillation Plant Development and Cost
Update”, compares the various available desalination processes.

Delivering Water Resources


There are several options in the logistic operation of delivering bulk water to those
who need it.

1. Road – very inefficient for delivering high volumes over long distances,
and mainly suitable for individual farmers.

2. Rail – A relatively efficient method that can make use of existing


infrastructure. Trainloads of 2,000 tons capacity (about 2 Megalitres) are
possible, subject to rail water wagons being available. Other countries such
as India and Pakistan have used this method in the past but I am unable to
source any references to this occurrence in Australia.

3. VLCCs – Very Large Crude Carriers – There have been several papers
outlining costs of shipping bulk water over distances of several thousands
of kilometers. In a North American paper on the subject, their conclusion
was that it was not economically sustainable to undertake such a task.

4. Underground pipeline – High construction costs, but once in place, long


term viability and operational lifetimes of beyond 50 years are the norm.
Users along the pipeline route can also access the resource.

39
VIC Dept of Sustainability Report by SKM in collaboration with Monash University pp 66-76 website:
http://www.sustainability.vic.gov.au/resources/documents/SKM_Geothermal_Report.pdf
40
“Distillation Plant Development and Cost Update”, by Neil M Wade, Website:
http://www.desline.com/articoli/4051.pdf

30
The Clever Country – Dying of Thirst

Whilst it may be economical to simply build underground water pipelines is a ‘straight


line A-to-B configuration’, it may be worth considering building this pipeline along
existing transport corridors/easements such as the existing road and/or rail corridors.
Of particular use would be roads with wide easements that were once part of our
renowned stock routes. Any pipeline construction along these wide easements should
minimize disruption to passing traffic.

Many of the Country Fire Authority (CFA) stations have been established along Main
Supply Route (MSR) corridors. Given the requirement for easy access to water for
these units, it may be worthwhile planning for secure water access to the pipeline at
these CFA stations

Dams and reservoirs in this area already depleted. Several CFA units in the
Grampians area are currently unable to conduct ‘fuel reduction’ burns because they
have to save all their water for ‘the real thing’, a major bushfire. Pipelines from a
desalination plant will guarantee fire-fighting access to water. .

Use of the existing transport corridors should reduce impact on landowners, costs for
additional easement purchase from graziers etc.

Comment
Desalination Plants guarantee the delivery of water around the clock. This
enables authorities, industry and users to adequately plan their business
around realistic delivery and seasonal timetables.

31
The Clever Country – Dying of Thirst

Key Elements

Key elements for successfully commissioning such a project in the Portland Bay Area
are:

1. Easy access to unpolluted seawater

2. Deep Water Port Access

3. Adequate Fresh Groundwater Reserves

4. Main Supply Routes North

5. New Power Station

6. Heat Exchanger Unit

7. Significant Carbon Credits

8. Geothermal Resources

Details of these of the key elements that identify Portland as a prime site for an effort
of this scale are outlined on Page 35 of this document.

32
The Clever Country – Dying of Thirst

Why Portland

Portland Aluminium – The Smelter in the Park


This facility generates in excess of 340,000 tonnes of Aluminium per annum. The
smelter is managed by Alcoa and uses approx. 10% of the Total State Electricity
Production in Victoria.

Some vital statistics about average datasets for Australian Aluminium production41
include:

• Energy costs are about 30% of operating costs

• Electricity levels of approx 15 KWh required per Kg of metal produced.

• 3 Megalitres of water per tonne of metal produced.

• Green House Gas (GHG) emissions of approx 2.5 tonnes CO2-e per tonne
of metal produced.

In October 2006, Alcoa won the prestigious Prime Minister’s Community Business
Partnership Award for community work in Western Australia. 42

“Working in partnership not only has the potential to enrich people’s lives 
but  can  also  deliver  tangible  results  for  all  Australians.  Community  and 
business partnerships are a driver to accomplish better outcomes than any 
group acting alone could achieve.” 

The Hon. John Howard, MP, the Prime Minister of Australia. 

Greenhouse gas emissions are becoming an increasing area of concern with activist
groups adopting a more militant stance toward industry.

Many industry leaders are seeking ways of both effectively reducing their greenhouse
gas emissions and ‘value-adding’ other goods and services by utilizing by-product
development. This will then achieve acceptable results to both communities and the
corporate ‘bottom-line’.

41
Australian Aluminium Council website: http://www.aluminium.org.au/Page.php?d=1050
42
Alcoa website: http://www.alcoa.com/australia/en/news/releases/20061018_Alcoa_wins_PM_awards.asp

33
The Clever Country – Dying of Thirst

Official statements linking ‘bottom-line’ to environmental issues by Portland


Aluminium43 may be summarized as follows;

“The plan looks more critically at all aspects of the business through what 
could be referred to as the “triple bottom line” of business enterprise.  

The  triple  bottom  line  refers  to  balancing  environmental,  economic  and 
social values in business.  

In  todayʹs  climate  of  strong  environmental  awareness,  it  makes  sense  to 
ensure  environmental  and  social  concerns  factor  into  the  equation  of 
making money.” 

The International Community is already discussing the issues involving carbon credits.

NSW is already trading in Carbon Credits.44

“New South Wales continues to be a pioneer in introducing carbon dioxide 
emissions  trading  and  exploring  methods  to  use  forests  for  Greenhouse‐
friendly  products.  The  first  carbon  trades  in  Australia  involved  State 
Forests of NSW working with Pacific Power and Delta Electricity.  

It is an exciting new era for those who grow forests. Now, when we create a 
healthy  forest,  we  not  only  receive  a  return  for  the  wood  products  being 
grown but may also benefit from trading in carbon credits.” 

Comment
Pro-active support by Portland Aluminium for a Desalination Plant where
potable water is used for drought mitigation purposes will ensure generation of
Carbon Credits to offset GHG emissions.

This activity fits well within the “triple bottom line” doctrine of Portland
Aluminium.

43
Smelter in the Park & Ballarat University website:
http://www.ballarat.edu.au/projects/ensus/case_studies/PA/index.html
44
State Forests of NSW website:
http://www.forest.nsw.gov.au/publication/forest_facts/greenhouse/default.asp

34
The Clever Country – Dying of Thirst

Power Generation
Desalination plants require large capacity power stations to run them, and also provide
pumping capacity for fresh water product.

There are currently plans for a 1,000 MW gas-fired power station to be built at
Mortlake in Victoria. 45

Mortlake is a small town approximately 140 kms east of Portland.

This plant is close to the 500 KV transmission lines that carry power to the Alcoa
Aluminium Smelter in Portland – hence the power line easement for this line may also
be used for further electricity distribution.

This power station will be fed from the Otway Gas Project.46

Origin Energy plan that construction will take 30 months, and based on the current
trends of National Electricity Market (NEM) indicators, 2010 appears favourable for a
construction start date.

Perhaps this starting date may be brought forward, subject to compelling reasons for
immediate commencement.

Approval has also been given for the Macarthur Wind Project47 just north of Portland.
This facility will have a generating capacity of approx 330 MW, which can also be used
for pumping water north.

Key Elements
Portland meets all of the elements necessary for success of this project:

1. Easy access to unpolluted seawater – whilst Port Phillip Bay, close to the
power stations of Melbourne and Geelong may appear an attractive alternative, the
Yarra River continues to pollute the Bay.

There will also be the problem of returning the very high salt concentrates into the
fragile Port Phillip Bay ecosystem – always a problematic environmental issue.

2. Deep Water Port Access – Portland already has the only deep water Port
between Geelong and Adelaide.
45
Mortlake – Origin Energy Project website:
http://www.originenergy.com.au/about/template.php?pageid=1376
46
Otway Gas Project – Woodside Petroleum website: http://www.otway.woodside.com.au/The+Project/
47
ABC News Website – Macarthur Wind Farm Approval:
http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200610/s1774962.htm

35
The Clever Country – Dying of Thirst

It is therefore suitable for delivering any large/oversize modules necessary for the
Desalination Plant or even the Power Station 140 kms away at Mortlake.

3. Adequate Fresh Groundwater Reserves – The Glenelg Shire (Wannon


Water) already has sufficient reserves to begin pumping water northwards once the
pipeline and pumping stations have been built. Once the Desalination Plant is on
stream, aquifer recharge and additional surplus water can be diverted north.

4. Main Supply Routes North – There are already main road and rail links in
place along the north-south corridor linking Portland to Mildura.

Whilst the upgrading of the Portland to Hopetoun standard gauge line has been
delayed due to the costs blow-out of the Very Fast Train programme, there are still
plans to upgrade this line. This will enable delivery of pipes without additional heavy
vehicle traffic on the already busy road network.

5. New Power Generation Facilities – The Mortlake power station is already


planned for this area.

This 1,000 MW facility will have the capacity to supply the pumping stations, and use
much of the existing power line easements in linking the electricity grid.

The Macarthur Wind Farm project has also been approved, with construction given
the green light

6. Heat Exchanger Unit – The Portland Aluminium Smelter uses


approximately 10% of the total power consumption in Victoria.

After this massive energy load has been used to produce the extremely high
temperatures (800 deg C and above) the heat is just dissipated into the air, wasted.

This heat resource may be captured through conventional Heat Exchanger


Technology and then used to heat and distill seawater through the desalination process
of Multi-Effect Distillation.

7. Significant Carbon Credits – The GHG emission levels from the electrical
generation using lignite at the Yallourn Power Station can be offset by extending the
“Smelter in the Park” concept northwards, with the supply of potable water to
industries, towns, communities and new forests.

36
The Clever Country – Dying of Thirst

8. Geothermal Resources – Coupled with the Heat Exchanger from the


Smelter, this proven Geothermal Asset that lies 1,300 metres below Portland will also
help significantly reduce the heating costs for the Distillation Process.

Litigation – The Ultimate Motivator


Australia is a signatory under U.N Charter of Human Rights.48

The specific reference is Article 25.

(1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health 
and well‐being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, 
housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to 
security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, 
old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control. 

Whilst there may be legal interpretations as to the exact meaning of citizens having the
“right to a standard of living……including food,” it would be a brave Judiciary System
that would refuse to recognize “water” as an integral part of “food”.

If Government Authorities therefore fail in taking all reasonable steps to ensure that
their citizens have adequate access to water – including developing new water sources,
then they too may face lawsuits.

This would be a parallel situation to those property owners in Gippsland, who are
seeking compensation for the loss of their properties because of poor fire
management practice.

48
UN Charter Of Human Rights website: http://www.un.org/Overview/rights.html

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The Clever Country – Dying of Thirst

Next Steps

A. Viability, Planning and Consultative Phases, including Environmental


Impact Studies. Approvals issued if viable.

B. Concurrent construction of water pipelines between the major aquifers


linking industry, communities, towns and cities from Portland northwards.

C. Construction of Desalination Plant near the Portland Smelter – ensuring


use of Heat Exchanger Technology for significant reduction in energy and
associated costs.

D. Re-evaluation of the Portland Geothermal bore complex as a contributing


resource in heating seawater in the MED process.

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The Clever Country – Dying of Thirst

Conclusion

The need for action


There are many favourable elements already in place with the Southwest of Victoria
that can provide a sound base for such a project, especially with:

1 The Aluminium Smelter and its significant heat byproduct, and

2 The Portland Geothermal Resource.

Strategies outlined in this document provide a sound blueprint for the


development of Desalination Projects for those other Australian communities
adjacent to facilities that produce significant heat by-product.

These sites include Power Stations (Gippsland VIC), Steel Works (Wollongong
NSW), Newcastle (NSW) and the Aluminium Smelter (Gladstone QLD).

Greenhouse gas emission and carbon credit trading will soon become a prime
consideration in Government Policy affecting industry and revenues.

Additionally, there are the social issues of responsible environmental and water
management that will be thoroughly scrutinized by the public and the press.

The drought story continues to unfold.

Many of our forests, farms, rivers, communities and cities are dying of thirst or being
devastated by bushfires.

Without adequate water, we will be unable to prevent further devastation.

“I love a charcoal country 

A land of sweeping flames 

Of burnt out houses, bushland… 

…And little animals’ remains” 

Graham Mibus  Unpublished Works 2006 

39
The Clever Country – Dying of Thirst

Index
abalone, 29 heat exchanger unit, 36
aquifer replenishment, 26–27 Heywood Pulp Mill, 26
quarantine & sterile water, 29 Iluka Minerals Sands Project, 25
quarantine & sterile water, 29 International Water Management Institute, 26
aquifers, 15, See also groundwater reserves key elements (for desalination project success),
Ash Wednesday fires, 20 35–37
Ballarat, 15 Macarthur Wind Farm Project, 35, 36
Beyond Blue, 10 Mallee district, 11
blue gum plantations, 18, 21, 25 Mortlake, 35
Bureau of Meteorology Map, 8 multi-effect distillation, 29, 36
bushfire, 18, 31 National Water Initiative, 27
carbon credits, 34, 37, 39 Origin Energy, 35
Climate Change, 6 Pacific Power, 34
Commonwealth Assistance Funding, 16 Penola Pulp Mill, 26
complacency, risks of, 16–18 Permissible Annual Volume (PAV) extraction, 14
Country Fire Authority, 21, 31 pipelines, where to build, 31
crop yield failure, 6 port access - deep water, 36
deep water port access, 36 Portland Aluminium, 30, 33
delivering water, 30–31 Portland geothermal bores, 30, 37, 38
Delta Electricity, 34 power generation, 35, 36
desalination, 16–30 Primary Industries, Victorian Department of, 11
energy costs of, 30
quarantine protocols, 29
multi-effect distillation (MED), 29, 36
multistage flash (MSF), 28 rainfall trends, 8
Reverse Osmosis (RO), 29 Region of Interest, 11
drought Rural Sector Collapse, 16
2002-2003, 9 shelterbelts, 18
stories, 6, 9, 10, 17, 20 loss of, 20
Drought Relief Programmes, 6 soil, importance of, 20
dust storms, 24 sterile water, 29
dust-bowl conditions, 25 stock sell-offs, 9, 17
El Niño drought, 23 storage levels, 11–12
energy costs of desalination, 30 supply routes, 36
export collapse, 18 temperatures, extremely high, 36
Eyre Peninsula bushfire, 23 Timbercorp, 18
farm walkouts, 17 topsoil loss, 19, 23
farmer suicides, 10 tree plantations, 18
firestorm, 18 triple bottom line, 34
ganglioneuritis, 29 unpolluted seawater, 35
gas-fired power station, 35 Very Large Crude Carriers (VLCCs), 30
geothermal bores, 30, 37 Victorian Department of Primary Industries, 11
Glenelg Hopkins Catchment Management water delivery, 31, 36
Authority, 14 water resources
Gold Coast City, 27 access for fire-fighting, 31
golden soil, 19–25 aquifer replenishment, 26–27
aquifers, 13–15
Goulburn, 6
audit, national, 27
Greater Green Triangle, 14–15 delivery, 30–31, 36
rainfall map, 15 groundwater reserves, 13–15
greenhouse gas emission, 33, 34, 37, 39 rainfall, 8
groundcover. See shelterbelts storage levels, 11–12
groundwater reserves, 13–15 water storage levels, 11–12
for desalination project success, 36 wheat exports, 6
permissible extraction, 14 Wimmera district, 11
recharge capacity, 14
Yallourn Power Station, 37
harvest reduction, 8

40