Tony Abbott, Liberals Party leader, has proposed a “vision” for Australia that involves building more dams. This will solve our water problems and stop flooding.
“I just think it’s a bit odd in a country with as many water issues that we’ve got that there have been virtually no dams built in the last two decades,” Mr Abbott said yesterday.
Mr Abbott said dams offered more than just water storage.
“They’re flood-mitigation devices; they’re a potential source of emissions-free baseload electricity; they’re an important adjunct to food security; they’re a source of environmental flows in dry times,” Mr Abbott said. “Dams are a lot of important benefits to our community and for the last two decades, largely thanks to the Greens, we’ve had this dam phobia. It’s time we shook it off and I think the floods are an illustration of the sorts of issues that we can use dams to help.”
Unfortunately for Tony Abbott, his “more dams” thought bubble fails even the most basic logic test.
Let’s put aside some of the basic problems. Problems like the fact that most rivers in Australia that are suitable for dams already have one or more dams. Problems like the fact that dams stop nutrients from flowing down river to fisheries. We’ll even put aside the fact that when the once-in-a-century floods are over, we’ll be back to low rainfall, drought conditions.
Abbott says that dams are flood mitigation devices as well as water storage devices. Unfortunately, you can’t have magic dams.
Dams for water storage need to be full. This means that they can’t be used as flood mitigation devices. And when there is no rain, water storage dams sit empty.
Dams for flood mitigation need to be empty. This means that they can’t be used as water storage devices. Or environmental flows. Or food security. Or hydro.
It takes only a minute of consideration about Tony Abbott’s “build more dams” thought bubble to realise it is utterly nonsensical.