From todays Daily Telegraph in Sydney
An article By Nicolette Burke
April 23, 2007 12:00
THE nation's greatest engineering feat, the Snowy Hydro power scheme, could suspend its operations within weeks because of severe water shortages.
A tally by the company of its current water store found it is in its worst state since construction ended in 1973.
Internal company predictions suggest water levels in Lake Jindabyne would be too low to operate the hydro-electricity turbines by mid to late May.
The second water source – at Lake Eucumbene – is likely to hit the minimum operating threshold by late July or early August.
A statement by the company said 10 years of drought had slowly diminished stores. The big dry has lasted longer than the region's previous worst, from 1936 to 1946.
"Water flows are only around 30 per cent of the long-term average. Water flows during the last 11 months were significantly below the previous lowest-ever minimums – minimums recorded over 101 years – and were worse than could have been anticipated," the statement read.
Total water storage for the scheme is at 10 per cent – and operations could be suspended if storage reaches 9 per cent.
Snowy Hydro spokesman Paul Johnson said he was unable to comment on future operations because "we cannot accurately predict rainfalls".
But the company's own report states there is "no forecast improvement to water inflows in the foreseeable future."
A reduction of power in the supply grid could force the National Electricity Market Management Company to seek alternate power sources for the state's south and the ACT.
Power generated across Australia is traded between the states to enable a constant supply of electricity.
If generation at the Snowy Hydro was reduced long term it could result in higher electricity costs for residents.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister John Howard has foreshadowed extra funding for farmers in next month's Budget as properties along the Murray-Darling river system face a suspension of water allocations.
Clever man you are Prime Minister, how do you suspend irrigation allocation when the Darling is bed dry as this photo from Wilcannia shows.
He said he would meet with farming groups and irrigators to determine what additional assistance the Federal Government can provide.
If significant rainfall is not achieved in the next six to eight weeks, thousands of farmers face being unable to pump water from the once-mighty river system to crops and livestock.
"I really do feel for them and it's an awful thing to have to say as prime minister that we may not be making any water allocations at all for irrigation," he said. "I wouldn't want any of them to think they're going to be left alone."
Opposition water spokesman Anthony Albanese said Mr Howard had contributed to the current crisis through 11 years of "inaction and complacency" on climate change.
And there is the Clarence River http://www.news.com.au/dailytelegraph/story/0,22049,21600837-5001021,00.html
Well what can you say when a Prime Minister decides to close his eyes or refuse to open them to such massive issues as these.
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