April 26, 2012
The Murray River
The Murray River begins near the peak of Australia’s highest mountain-top, drawing a border between the states of New South Wales and Victoria. The river serves many purposes to the people of southern Australia, as well as provides aesthetically pleasing landscape throughout the basin and along its banks. The river provides water for many households in the region as well as irrigation to many important farmlands, vineyards, forests and golf courses. The water comes from the Australian highlands which are generally snow-covered for half of the year, becoming warm and supplying the river with fresh water. The Murray-Darling Basin is the largest source of fresh water in Australia. According to the Australian Natural Resources Atlas, the total area of “crops and pastures irrigated in the basin in 1996/97 is estimated at 1,309,755 ha (or 3,236,476 acres) which represents 64% of Australia's total area of irrigated crops and pastures. The irrigation industry dominates water use in the Basin, with 95% of the diversion of the Basin's water resources for consumptive purposes used for irrigation. This represents 75% of the all water used in irrigation in Australia which, in turn, accounts for just over half of all water used in Australia” (Anra.gov.au). The river also flushes itself, by rising to extreme levels, to assist in sustaining the soil in the areas surrounding it.
Regular river system flushes help maintain wetlands for wildlife, and water storage for farming food production. Much of food we enjoy at home and when we visit the Murray, is grown locally in the Murray Darling Region, and the sustainability of food production in these areas is reliant on these rain weather events.
The main irrigated enterprises in the Basin include rice, cotton, dairy, horticulture and viticulture. Specific figures on the value and extent of individual enterprises are unable to be…