Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Moulamein peaks

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Residents and landholders have breathed a sigh of relief this week as flood waters peaked at Moulamein at a height of 6.235m. While the peak is a welcome sign, the impacts of the flooding are still dramatic on the community.

Local farmer, Jeremy Morton, has been driving up to 20km per day through flood waters to keep his crops alive.

“One property is completely isolated,” said Mr Morton.

“We’ve got vehicles on both sides of the water and machinery isolated on Bundarool.”

In what is typically a busy time for mixed irrigators of Moulamein, the flooding is hampering the harvest of winter crops and rice production.

“We ran out of fuel last week, and we’ve actually pumped about 5,000 litres into mobile tanks and shuttles with an inch and a half poly pipe.”

Fuel has become a hot commodity, not only for harvesting, but also for driving pumps, with the main water supply channel, the Murray Irrigation Northern Supply Canal being cut.

“They cut the Northern Canal; it’s basically got no head in it after dropping 400mm, so there’s not enough getting out of my outlet onto the rice crop.

“They (Murray Irrigation) said they could supply a pump but couldn’t deliver it, so it was delivered to Moulamein and Simon Coote walked it in with his excavator and set it up.”

The next concern Mr Morton faced was where to store his grain. That help came in the form of a giant Sikorsky once owned by former US President Donald Trump and piloted by a US and Canadian crew. A newly purchased grain bagging machine was flown from a nearby airstrip and delivered to Mr Morton.

In Moulamein, the Wilsons and their nine pumps and wall of sandbags engineering marvel has stood firm against the tide.

“We’re pretty excited to see the drop,” said Colleen Wilson.

“We’re looking forward to some normality but that’s a while away.

“I think Mum and Dad will come home on Wednesday after being evacuated to Swan Hill.”

Even with the drop, the water level still remains well above the 1956 height of 6.09m.

Water remains over many of Moulamein’s access roads and the repair bill is expected to be in the millions.

With Prime Minister Anthony Albanese already touring South Australia’s high river areas, Jeremy Morton put out a call to Albo to stop by and see the on-ground impacts.

Call me cynical, but only one state seems to have a direct line on water issues, and they call their river the River Murray, not the Murray River.

The Koondrook and Barham Bridge Newspaper 8 December 2022

This article appeared in The Koondrook and Barham Bridge Newspaper, 8 December 2022.

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