Steve has sent me this anecdote from his personal experience:
This is just an anecdote but it interesting given the prominence of Twynams in the current water debate.
A few years ago, maybe five, maybe more, I was in Melbourne dealing with a water control gate to the Yarra River from an industrial area. I was the supplier. The government purchaser turned out to be a contract worker. Call him CW. The conversation went something like this:
CW: Had to come down here to get some money. Got some problems on the farm because we’ve got no water
Me: Where are you from?
CW: Not too far from Hay, up on the Lachlan
Me: You should be pretty right now mate. We have some gates to deliver for a fishway at Condobolin on the Lachlan and we can’t deliver them because of flooding.
CW: That may be so but none of that gets to us. It just gets sucked out before it gets that far.
Me: That’s amazing because I know that there is a lot of water there.
CW: That’s not the half of it mate. We had Twynams move in next door. Over the past 50 years we have not seen the water table vary by more than about a foot. Twynams turned up and dropped it 30 feet in year. They know they can only get a year or two out of it but that doesn’t matter. They make so much money that they give the land back to National Parks and bugger off. National Parks then lock it up and all sorts of noxious weeds grow and the seeds blow onto the neighbouring property. We can’t control them and we have no water left. Seen it all before. It’s a bloody disgrace.
The conversation shocked me at the time but after many thousands of kilometres with my kayak it doesn’t shock me any more. CW is right though, “It’s a bloody disgrace!”
I can tell a story similar to that about the Black River just norther of Townsville: a story of the Yabulu Nickel Plant and, perhaps, some farmers as well. If this was a solid substance, we would call the extraction process mining, wouldn't we? But it seems when it is water, it is irrigation - and that is more respectable, isn't it?