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Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Mighty Murray River

The Murray River is our largest river. It's 2,575 kilometres long and starts in the alps, forms the border between New South Wales and Victoria, then heads south into South Australia and ends at the mouth, Lake Alexandrina.

It's been 48 degrees on the Murray River at Echuca and Moama for 3 days and another 44 day is forecast tomorrow. It actually went up to 49 on the Jeep temperature gauge this afternoon but dropped to 48 before I could get the camera out. One side of the river is the big town of Moama in the state of New South Wales and across the river is the town of Echuca in Victoria.

The Mighty Murray isn't mighty anymore, it's dying a slow death. Introduced European Carp are the scourge of the Murray, they are like vacuum cleaners, bottom feeders who suck up everything in their path and blow out what they don't need and in the process make the water muddy. They cause bank erosion, uproot vegetation and destroy the breeding habits of native fish because they eat their eggs. It is estimated that over 90 per cent of the fish now in the Murray-Darling basin are carp and have been declared a pest fish.

An enterprising company decided to turn dead carp into an award winning garden ferilizer called Charlie Carp. Their commitment to turn an unwanted environmental pest into a sustainable product has been awarded the prestigious national Banksia Environmental Award.

But we humans, probably more than the carp and the drought, have destroyed the Murray. Our obsession with clearing the land and stealing the water for our own selfish use has led to a huge salinity problem. In 2003 two thousand tonnes of salt reached the Murray mouth which equals 82 semi-trailer loads of salt every single day.
Hundreds of trees have been planted but we need to plant hundreds more but most importantly, we need good rain so the Murray can be Mighty once again.