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Are we the Clever Country?: 2008

Monday, 30 June 2008

SA Needs Help - VIC Could Help With Portland Desalination

South Australia calls for help with water crisis from the other States:

The Portland Desalination proposal not only offers a water solution to benefit South Australians and Victorians. This idea can also be duplicated within South Australia to produce even more water:

Saturday, 28 June 2008

Disaster Looms for Murray Darling - Time for Portland Desalination?

Scientists warn of impending collapse of the Murray Darling Basin.

When will our leaders begin to seriously consider the potential solution offered by a Thermal Desalination Plant at Portland.

  • harness geothermal energy,
  • recycled heat from an Aluminium Smelter,
  • provide a new source of water for communities extending from South-west Victoria to Ballarat, Bendigo and Mildura.

Friday, 27 June 2008

River Systems Threatened - Desal Can Help!

Jennifer Macey - ABC Radio - reported that CSIRO scientist Dr. Tom Hatton warns that overuse of groundwater resources threatens river systems.

Thermal Desalination, using the distillation process can help with aquifer recharge - the sterile feedstock water can be injected into the aquifer system without introducing foreign organisms or chemicals.

Sunday, 11 May 2008

Look Out -- La Nina Event Over

Anyone hoping for a 'natural fix' for our continuing Foodbowl drought crisis - Murray-Darling Basin - should review the latest Bureau of Meteorology ENSO report.

The Murray Darling Basin Commission [MDBC] Drought Update of May 2008 [PDF] is also of interest - the are no references for gaining 'new' water sources to boost river inflows.

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

ABC Landline - Sunday 4th May, 2008

Interesting segment Rice Shortage Critical, by Tim Lee from the ABC - focussing on the Murray-Darling Water Crisis.

One part dealt with the rice growing regions and their lack of sufficient water -- claims that Australian Rice Producers are among the most efficient and productive in the world. This fact linked in with the story about food riots in 10 countries in the past 2 months, where rice staple food prices had risen by 70%. This years crop will be only 20,000 tons - down from several Hundred Thousands as per non-drought norm.

Cross reference this with:
  1. Burma cyclone -- how much rice is grown here?
  2. Major increase for basic food staples because of the use of traditional food crops as an energy source to reduce dependence upon oil.
  3. Continuing political problems in Africa.

We should be helping all stakeholders in our 'Foodbowl Regions', including farmers, irrigators and environmental users, rather than just focus on buying back irrigation allocations so that we can just maintain river flows -- after all -- the drought is continuing, and the BOM has no rainfall relief predicted for the forseeable future.

60 Minutes TV Programme - Sunday 4th May

Intriguing segment about the Murray-Darling and the critical effects seen at the Coorong in South Australia.
  • Dairy industry decimated
  • Lake Alexandrina has the appearance of a desert, rather than a wetland.
  • Bird life being seriously affected by the salinity -- up to 10 X normal in some parts of the 'wetlands'.
  • No discussion on any potential solutions.
Without any substantial, consistent and continuous water input, how can this disaster be prevented from continuing??
Perhaps it is time to review Desalination at Portland, VIC.

Thursday, 3 April 2008

Topsoils Blown Away

Terrible news from the ABC -- After the massive windstorms that swept through southern parts of Australia, reports suggest that tonnes of priceless topsoils have been stripped off our farmland.
Putting environmental flows back into the Murray is vital -- so too is providing the farmers with enough water for their paddocks -- bind the soil & enable growth of ground cover. Drought does more than dry up rivers -- it puts our soils up into the Extreme Erosion risk category.

Check out story here ABC News

Saturday, 29 March 2008

Aerosol Pollution - What part in Ice-cap Meltdown?

Our polar icecap meltdown is accelerating.

Satellite images displayed at the National Snow and Ice Data Centre in March 2008 of the Wilkins Ice-sheet [part of the West Antarctic Ice-shelf - WAIS] melting, have me worried:

The report by the US National Snow and Ice Data Center discusses the latest images in context of other large ice-melt events.

"The Wilkins is one of a string of ice shelves that have collapsed in the West Antarctic Peninsula in the past thirty years. The Larsen B became the most well-known of these, disappearing in just over thirty days in 2002. The Prince Gustav Channel, Larsen Inlet, Larsen A, Wordie, Muller, and the Jones Ice Shelf collapses also underscore the unprecedented warming in this region of Antarctica."

See the British Antarctic Survey [BAS] PDF report - British Antarctic Survey's version of this joint release.

The NSIDC have reported on other disturbing breakups on the Wilkins Ice Shelf and the Larsen B collapse.

Thursday, 27 March 2008

Nyrstar Lead Smelter at Port Pirie notified

Senior staff of the Nyrstar Lead Smelter in Port Pirie given copies of the Thermal Desalination proposal in early March 2008.
Port Pirie is close to the Mining Operations at Roxby Downs and Olympic Dam -- they may require additional water to further develop their mining resources, given the current boom in the mining sector.

Onesteel Whyalla sent papers on Thermal Desalination

Contacted Onesteel Whyalla management -- passed on the Desal proposal to them. Their blast furnace process generates temperatures of 2,000 deg C - they already capture part of this heat for use in other parts of the steelmaking process. Hopefully they can also use some for thermal desalination.

Friday, 21 March 2008

Water for South Australia

Visited Adelaide - many gardens dead - very dusty - high level of water restrictions in place - La Nina event produced floods in QLD, no respite for SA.

Adelaide also just experienced a 1 in 3,000 year event of continuous hot days [15 days over 38 deg C].
Now there is more stress on the Murray River and Groundwater resources - as per the fourfold increase of salinity levels in the Coorong, extremely low water levels in Lake Alexandrina etc. Some of the groundwater resources failed on a couple of occasions in the past.

Action: Desalination Proposal sent to:
* SA Members of Parliament -- including the Premier, Mike Rann; MP, Andrew Evans; Federal Senator-Elect, Nick Xenophon.
* Private industry - staff members at the Nyrstar Lead Smelter at Port Pirie.
The concept may also be used by the Onesteel Facility at Whyalla.

Rationale: Original paper with Heat Capture/Heat Exchanger process focusses on the Aluminium Smelter at Portland VIC, but it can be used in any Heavy Industry process producing large amounts of heat as a byproduct.

With the Federal Govt have still not able to reach agreement over a comprehensive Murray River Strategy [VIC are still holding out] it looks like the Murray Basin will not get any new water recharge action anytime soon.

Conclusion: By sending this material directly to the South Australians, they may be able to go ahead themselves in a joint venture with SA Heavy Industry to build 2 small [20 M/litre day] Low Temperature Distillation Desal Plants at Port Pirie and Whyalla.
If successful, the plants may be extended/expanded to make South Australia more drought-proof.

AS Leopards Unsuitable for Conversion

Bad news - the original concept was to demilitarise and convert the Australian [AS model A3] Leopard Fleet into a Firefighting Role - unfortunately this plan is unworkable - these tanks are too old for conversion.

Good news - New Leopards [A4 models] are currently available from the US and Germany already specifically designed and configured for firefighting.

The original paper NEW RECRUITS FOR OUR ASHES TEAM, will be revised soon.

Sunday, 20 January 2008

Big Trouble in West Antarctica - Ice Shelves Rapidly Melting

In an article by Leigh Dayton in The Australian on 15th January, 2008 -- Scientists are alarmed about an estimated 200 billion tonnes of ice that melted from the West Antarctic Ice Shelf [WAIS] in 2006.

Hobart based glaciologist, Ian Allison, with the Australian Antarctic Division and the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Co-operative Research Centre, comments"

"This work suggests that the ice flow is accelerating," Dr Allison said.

"It's worrying because ... the changes are happening due to processes we don't understand."

I spoke in March, 2008 with another scientist, Dr Ross Edwards, from the Desert Research Institute in the US, who is conducting further research into these 'unknown processes', as stated by Ian Allison.