Signs #13 – ‘Droughts and Flooding Rains …’*

The Mid Murray Council ‘s having one of those years.  Years of drought (and arguably a bit of un-Australian upstream behaviour!) has seen the Murray River, lifeblood to South Australia’s fruit bowl the Riverland, fall to the lowest levels in decades. 
So low, in fact, that parts of the river banks are seeing the light of day and they don’t like it!  Without the water, they’re in danger of collapse.  So what’s a litigation-savvy Council to do?
Put up warning signs, of course!  Like this one at Blanchetown.
But then, damned if the drought doesn’t break with a vengeance!  Unprecedented rains and severe flooding across much of the Murray-Darling Basin catchment area mean heavier downstream flows into the Murray and rising water levels.  Blanchtown’s Lock Number 1 can hardly be seen for the water flowing over it.
And before you’ve got time to contact a signwriter, the sign’s out of date!
But luckily, the rising river has obscured the critical point – so the punters can no longer tell what it is they should be taking care over.  No harm done, right?
But if you think this river’s in full flood, think again.
The flood meter upstream at the old ferry crossing at Morgan puts it in perspective.

On our March 2011 visit, the river was running high but had peaked the previous day.  But the current level is still well below other floods – as shown by the markers on the right.

Why is the meter so high?  Well … the September 1956 flood is the benchmark against which all other floods are measured.  And yes, it’s there on the marker – way up past 11 metres!!

If it reaches those levels again , the Mid Murray Council would have a lot more than a few out of date signs to worry about, wouldn’t they?!?!?!

Stay dry!!

* From classic Australian poem ‘My Country’ by Dorothea Mackellar
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18 comments

  1. @Lily – I used to fear bushfires the most, but now floods are starting to edge them out … not many places in OZ have snow to contend with as well!! You take care too!

  2. Evening here – thankyou for the most informative post about the river rising – we have several streams here that flow into the St. Croix River and those streams became a hotbed of rushing rivers back in December – instead of snow, we rcvd 173mm of rain, which washed all the snow away and almost 24 hrs later the entire area was flooded 4-8 ft of water and as the flood waters were receding, it started snowing again. I have the video on my blog – it is truly amazing with the droughts and floodings worldwide and our “Uncanny” weather patterns, eh.
    Have a good night OZ n take care
    Lilly

  3. Wow!! Hard to even imagine the water up past 11 metres. Laughing at the sign but I imagine during the drought it wasn’t funny. We also have the droughts and floods here and it’s frustrating to say the least. At the moment we have’t seen rain since January but keep praying it will come before it gets worse.

  4. @H – Welcome! 11+ metres was HOPEFULLY a one-off. A lake system was set up for the overflow following that disastrous flood – only trouble is, this far down the track the reason for the lakes has been forgotten, and people want them full all the time!! Go figure …

  5. Wow, 11 metres would bring devestation! We have some controversy over river usage/reservoirs and the like over here too, but not to the same extent because the UK is so much wetter!

  6. @Mary – Colliding Rivers sounds like the place NOT to be! I hope I never have to experience flooding that severe.

  7. Your photos are always amazing. We have a spot here in Oregon called Colliding Rivers that marks the junction of three major rivers. During periods of 100 year floods – which – we ironically have more often than that – the damage is devastating. Each time it happened there is outward migration. Folks just aren’t willing to go through that twice. I hope you have a great day. Blessings…Mary

  8. @Kimberlee – not in OZ, I fear! This is a land of extremes!!
    @Betty – But the river level is better high than low!!
    @Bob lehcror – Welcome and thanx! There’s plenty more to come, so return anytime for a fix!

  9. i’m just sad looking at that first photo; yet glad they did report on it.

    have a great day, my wonderful friend!

    betty

  10. Well… when it rains it pours sounds really accurate in your case. Where is the happy medium? ~Kimberlee

  11. @Andrew – but they DO report on it! I saw a TV news item from the 80’s played last year that showed politicians from all sides of parliament travelling to the Lakes, and shaking their heads about the ruinous state of things. Pretty much like we saw in 2010!!
    @Marie – Around 10 years ago, a water expert told us rising salinity meant an effective life of 80 years for the Murray. But every time the waters flow, action once again becomes apathy and inaction.
    @Sailor – you’re right, sadly. There are so many man-made influences on this river system alone, and it’s not managed centrally so each state can do as it pleases irrespective of upstream or downstream requirements.
    @Windsmoke – sadly you’re right too, my friend. Long term these days is just until the next election … there’s no vision for what’s best overall.
    @River – this is probably as close as you’re going to get, so enjoy it while it lasts.

  12. I have a wish to see the Murray River in all her fully flowing glory again. It will probably never happen, just look at the way it’s being treated by irrigators upstream, government policies being totally ineffective, not to mention years and years of droughts.

  13. The first photo tells it all to little to late. Just like our desalination plant that’s being built in Wonthaggi, Victoria the drought has broken we don’t need this expensive white elephant to little to late again :-).

  14. Rivers are not natural anymore. We can’t blame the nature. We have constructed dams and bridges accross and for how long they are going to hold. The sand and the mud is going to fill them all in few years and what next? Break them? lol I have no clue.

  15. Loved that first photo!

    The River Murray system has always been a political hot potato and successive state and federal governments have either wilfully mismanaged the area or totally ignored it. I wonder what the long term implications are for the river system.

  16. I wish the media would report the ongoing state of the Coorong and Lake Alexdrandina. Perhaps I need to check it all out for myself.

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