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NAILING down water statistics is difficult. No matter what one scientist might research and record another scientist pops up with opposing data. The result can be perfectly confusing. 

Father used to plant his huge garden only after consulting the Farmer’s Almanac. The pages of the magazine were filled with wonderful pictures and drawings of how to farm rabbits, grow cabbages and plant potatoes. The Almanac also explained the tides, the phases of the moon and gave advice on tonsillitis control and head lice management. Father swore by the Almanac and had the best garden in the village.

Maybe the non-scientific periodical worked. Maybe it did not. Now only some aged hippies seem interested.

But take a look at the fine quarterly publication Tas Regions. It is published by the Tasmania Department of Primary Industries and Water. Volume 12, Issue 3, September 2006 has both farmer wisdom and scientific data. Put them together and one more bit of knowledge about Tasmanian water becomes available.

John Cannon wrote about the Dixon’s family farm, “… on a quiet hillside above the Tyenna River near National Park.” Since the 1960s farm life changed quite a bit Anita Dixon said. “… the change in the climate with the summer and autumn months being extremely dry.” To this Merv Burns, Anita’s father said, “If the older generation could see you irrigating in the summer they wouldn’t believe it.”

Scene changes: Skip fifty years to January-July 2006. Page 31 of the same magazine reports, “Fronts and highs, rain and cold.” Basically the Australian Bureau of Meteorology informs the reader that most of Tasmania (except for central-west) experienced either: lowest rainfall on record; very much below normal rain fall; or below normal. Only a tiny area around Strathgordon experienced even a small amount above normal.

HMMM!

We know the huge plantations in the North East of Tasmania are already soaking up excess water flow in the North and South Esk water catchment areas. El Nino is coming sooner than expected AND the proposed pulp mill wants a guaranteed 26,000,000,000 litres of water from the Trevallyn Dam catchment area per year!

Add the anticipated drop in rainfall over the next few years and on … and you have drought! If not drought … the mill gets the water first (with guaranteed delivery),  the people get…RESTRICTIONS and the Tamar River loses part of its flushing system.

The Dixons give anecdotal information about the diminishing water from their generations on the same land and the government reports the last six months have been some of the driest times for yonks! That gives a scientific spin to the question of, “Where is the water coming from? And where is it going?”

I cannot nail down the future water possibilities but it appears that the government and the guarantors of the pulp mill are gambling on the people’s quiet acceptance of a potential water disaster.

William Jennings Bryan cried out at a time of great stress, “You shall not crucify mankind on a cross of gold.” I say, “We, the people, are being nailed to the barn door by the forces of greed!”

If you are not angry, why are you not?

Buck Emberg

I cannot nail down the future water possibilities but it appears that the government and the guarantors of the pulp mill are gambling on the people’s quiet acceptance of a potential water disaster.