I guess for people not familiar with the river it doesn't look too bad - there seems to be a lot of water still, but for those living on and depending on the river, the changes are devastating. Even for visitors such as us, the changes are scary. Every year I take a group of Year 6/7 kids to Murray Bridge for an Aquatics Camp and we have noticed the receding water level over the past few years. Where once the water lapped the lawn verges of the camp site, now there is a stretch of sandy beach. The jetties and loading ramps are high out of the water and worst of all, the lovely billabongs along the river are dry, cracked mud. Where once there was abundant bird life sheltering on these quiet backwaters, now there are only birds in the willows along the banks and a few larger birds on the river itself.
It is difficult to see how these billabongs will ever fill again. It would take huge amounts of water from upstream to see them flourish as they did a few years ago.
What horrified me most was seeing large areas of grain crops (barley or oats) being watered by large overhead sprinklers around Purnong. To me watering such crops is pure waste. But then, I am not an expert on such matters. I guess it's no worse than irrigating rice and corn in the middle of the Hay Plains?