LEON BYNER: We have had a lot of flooding going on that’s been reported. I’ve been watching some of the extended news services just to see the length and breadth of flooding. Where I used to work years ago in Shepparton… not long away, Numurkah is virtually a town that’s accessible only by boat. You’ve got areas of New South Wales, south east Queensland and, indeed, Victoria that are virtually underwater. Now, the River Murray system is connected to a lot of this and I wanted to find out just how much of these floods, which are all happening at the same time… how much is that going to affect the availability of water into South Australia to where we have been desperately wanting it…
LEON BYNER: Now, Senator Simon Birmingham is with us, who is the Coalition’s spokesperson on Environment and River Murray [Murray-Darling Basin]. Simon, a bit of good news for us?
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: … Leon… this of course is the third year in a row that we’ve seen some type of flooding throughout the Murray-Darling system and so, you’re dead right, Mother Nature has done what no amount of talking from politicians or planning or otherwise can do and that is revive the system but there’s one area that I’m very concerned about and that’s Lake Albert. Lake Albert still has a salinity level getting close to 5000 EC [electrical conductivity]. Now, that’s about five times what historically it should be. You’d think a after a couple of years of flooding through the system we would have fixed that but you and many of your listeners might recall that during the drought an artificial structure [Narrung Bund] was built between Lake Alexandrina and Lake Albert. That’s never been properly removed. The link between Lake Alexandrina and Lake Albert needs to be properly dredged. I wrote a couple of months ago, before this latest bout of flooding, to the Federal and State Water Ministers urging them to get this work undertaken so that we can actually see, in the remaining flows to come, the water flushed through Lake Albert and actually get it fixed so that the people who live on that lake can start to use the water again because, at present, it’s still unusable because of the high salinity levels.
LEON BYNER: Alright, Simon, thanks for calling in.