Month: March 2019

The benefit of water conveyance across climate zones for cotton production

Pause to think about why farmers dam water. Usually, it is to store intermittent or seasonally variable rain until the optimal growing season of the crop when water becomes limiting.

When it is most needed, the rainfall deficit coincides with a deficit going into the dam. When raining and the dam is filling, the local need is low. At high rainfall events, storages are filled to overflowing when the local demand is lowest, so most of the water goes over the spillway.

Conveyance of water via long aqueducts provides water from sources that are far away. Either the source is less correlated with the sink, or the supply and demand are in sync, such that the water is most in demand when it is the most available, and least in demand when least available.

Long Conveyance of water in the Bradfield Scheme not just about the supply of water from less correlated regions. It is about transfer between climates with reliably different rainfall patterns. Large local dams need to store water over from the winter period in order to water during summer, losing considerable amounts due to evaporation. Conveyance of monsoonal water during the summer period would minimize the storage and associated evaporative losses.

In a summer crop such as cotton, water may be limited in the hot dry growing season. Therefore the transfer of water from a monsoon climate in Northern Queensland to climates with uniform rainfall such as southern Queensland and Northern NSW makes sense.

Annual average rainfall varies from more than 1800 mm along the coast with peak rainfall in summer (Jan to April). Southern districts receive average rain in the hot summer, making agriculture particularly reliant on rainfall during the winter growing season – unless water was conveyed from the reliable monsoon falls of the north.

As an example, cotton is a perennial plant grown commercially as an annual, summer crop. It prefers hot summers with low humidity and a maximum amount of sunshine. Cottonseed is planted in the spring as soon as the soil is warm enough to be sure of satisfactory seed germination and crop establishment. On irrigated cotton farms the initial irrigation (watering) is usually followed by a further four to five irrigations, at two to three-week intervals, from mid-December to late-February.

Thus the northern wet season is long enough for the fourth months of growth needed from germination to when the cotton bolls to ripen and split open. When mature, timing is critical in cotton. The controlled watering ensures dry conditions on the heavy soils that are needed for mechanical harvesting, placing into large modules, and transferring to cotton gins for processing and shipping to overseas markets.

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Why Water Resources Need Connection

Local water storage doesn’t last through Australian droughts.

The South Burnett is located on top of Australia’s Great Dividing Range just two hours drive north-west of Brisbane, Australia and directly west of the Sunshine Coast. The South Burnett is  Queensland’s largest wine region, home to the State’s biggest vineyards and more than 20 wineries and cellar doors. The South Burnett is also home to two of Queensland’s biggest inland waterways (Lake Boondooma and the Bjelke-Petersen Dam), the Jurassic-era Bunya Mountains and some of Australia’s prettiest agricultural country.

With the water level at Lake Barambah currently 8%, irrigation of these agricultural business has been severely restricted.

Lake Barambah has irrigation, camping and recreational facilities handled by Murgon Shire Council. Facilities for caravans, cabins, camping and day-trippers are extensive. Under normal conditions there are no boating restrictions, except near the dam wall. In 2006, drought conditions reduced dam levels to 5% of total capacity. With such low levels, visitors numbers dropped significantly and local councils were concerned about maintaining drinking water for local towns. With the water level at Lake Barambah currently 8%, recreational users and visitors must be aware of exposed and submerged hazards.

An integrated water scheme such as the new Bradfield Scheme would allow storages such as these to be refilled by the abundant flows from the recent coastal wet season that saw widespread above average rainfalls and flood from Cairns to Townsville.

Read the full-alert here: https://bit.ly/2DdOiN0

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Sustainability branding of the Bradfield Scheme

Through control of the supply of water to certified producers including mines and farmers, the Bradfield Scheme can drive the environmental and humane animal husbandry outcomes that consumers seem to increasingly demand.

Sustainability branding is the process of creating, maintaining and adding value to the products of the scheme through certified environmental and social benefits. In contrast to existing green, organic brands which mainly focus on farming practices, the sustainability brand entails health and safety issues, conditions under which a particular product is produced, and adheres to the triple bottom line of ecological (environmental), social (equity), and financial (economic) sustainability.

Certification may require demonstration of such practices as Integrated Pest Management, free-range animal husbandry, environmental offset and reserves, indigenous employment to name a few. In this way, there will be the likelihood of identification and loyalty amongst consumers associated with social and environmental added value.

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Water facilitates new industries: Project Iron Boomerang

Steel is made from iron ore, coal, water, and other trace elements. Shipping both ore and coal to a third location is an inefficient use of the world’s biggest bulk ships that return empty half the distance. Project “Iron Boomerang” puts an end to the empty load phenomenon with a double east-west Australian rail line that will save billions per year. The average iron in ore is 60% the rest is dirt 40% – the empty return trip ship and train efficiency is therefore around 30%.

Gross water use in integrated steel plants ranges from 50,000 to 500,000 liters per ton of steel ingots, and so a reliable source of water is another requirement of efficient production. Value-added production is economically important for Australia and its major world trading partners. For the trading partners that participate in the production of steel, the industrialization of the inland facilitated by a Bradfield Scheme offers a sustainable and competitive means of reducing the cost per tonne of metals produced, while reducing global environmental impacts.

The purpose-built transcontinental railway line will link Australia’s two great ore bodies for steelmaking, iron ore from the west coast and metallurgical coal from the east coast with smelters at either end. A transcontinental railway will be dedicated to carrying resources efficiently from one side of the country to the other.

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FEASIBILITY

Heights of locations, Flows in streams, soil types.

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