Darling River in Australia gets partial respite from slow death

An irrigation farm larger than Singapore and sucking up billions of liters of water each year has been bought by Australia’s government to help save one of the country’s most vital rivers from a slow death and climate change.

Toorale Station, a cotton farm covering 910 sq km (351 sq miles) in the west of New South Wales state, was sold to the national and state governments for almost US$19 million, one day before it was set to go to auction.

The purchase will allow 20 gigaliters — equivalent to 20,000 Olympic swimming pools — to be returned each year to the ailing Darling River, which is one of two streams flowing through the Murray-Darling basin, home to almost half the nation’s farms…

Large irrigation farms, some capable of using more water than contained in Sydney Harbor, are accused of exacerbating a long-running drought that has already wiped more than A$20 billion ($16 billion) from the A$1 trillion economy since 2002.

The property, previously owned by the Clyde Agriculture conglomerate, is primarily used for cotton growing, although Clyde also grows wheat, barley, chickpeas, canola, cottonseed, beef, lamb and mutton in the Bourke area.

Surely sounds like Lubbock and West Texas to me. The Ogalala aquifer is being sucked drier and deeper, year by year, to satisfy the demands of taxpayer-subsidized cotton growers.

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