Possible! Probable?

The development of the area had been a topic over the decades, with no chance of success. A long shallow valley that had filled with silt over the millennia, with no drainage of the salt that builds up.

An area of approximately two thousand square kilometres, with black soil depths of fifty metres. A potential agricultural area of immense productivity of all types, from trees to grazing, cropping and horticulture.

Shortly after the establishment of South Australia, the black soil swamps along the River Murray had levees, channels and flood watering instituted. Although a fraction of the previously proposed area, this generated huge wealth for the area of Murraylands. The only draw-back of the flood watering was the organic matter from the grazing dairy cattle being pumped back into the river.

The growth of South Australia eventually made the Locked river a water supply for most of the suburban areas. The organic matter polluted this water supply so that dairy production has virtually ceased.

The locks and weirs across the River Murray caused stratification of the water upstream of the water upstream of the locks. When salt content was able to be easily measured, the lock masters found that the most saline water was backed up-stream behind the lock at the river bed, or bottom of the water column.

The original lock walls/gates were planks which were removed from the top down, effectively keeping the salt in the river. A programme of lock renewal has a full length gate, with controlled power which lets the salty water out of the river, eventually to the sea and lowers the over-all salinity of the river.

The long narrow river while sometimes having wind caused waves, still lets the more saline water to settle to the bottom. When the river has a high flow, the bends in the river negate this stratification, by churning the water and mixing it. Even in some cases completely from top to bottom, bottom to top. These high water flows are becoming less frequent.

On a different subject the Bonneville Salt Flats, famous for the summer speed trials, featuring almost any wheeled vehicle, are also a fish meal producer. The mountains surrounding the Bonneville lake supply the run-off, of potable water that makes the lake. As evaporation increases the salinity,brine shrimp increase, until a commercial harvest of multi-tonnes, becomes fish meal. The monitoring and controls make this sustainable so fish farms are supplied.

When the lake is dry enough in the summer the speed trials are organised, with world wide participation. Along the Murray river swamp irrigation areas, a popular system of returning the used water to the river was the water Harvester. A small tractor, the original Ferguson TA 20, would back up to a fixed water harvester,connect the power take-off shaft and then pump the channel collecting the used flood water back into the river.

These pumps handled cubic-metres of water a minute, very efficient and economical on fuel use. The original name was the Chinese Screw pump, with extra high volume, but low lift. The length of the cylinder housing the screw, or continuous propeller, was the total height of the water lift, may be three metres or more. Grain augers are the same idea, but can lift much higher.

The Adelaide Airport was originally a swamp, the delta of various creeks draining run-off from the Mt Lofty ranges. A series of channels or canals has dried the area for commercial use. The South East of South Australia has a series of channels or canals which drains a whole series of swamps and allowed a huge increase in production. The original over – flow from the south east went into the Coorong south lagoon, making a fish nursery of huge size.

The land locked valley with a series of locked canals and water harvesters to lift sea water, progressively diminishing the salt content, to irrigate and desalinate a potential agricultural bonanza.

To assist in the desalination, the use of electrolysis to demineralise the stored water. A copy of the domestic electric water heaters which prevents internal corrosion of the storage cylinder. In the water heaters the electric heater element being in the water, generates a small electric current in the mineral content of the water. This electrolysis would become an electro-plating system by adding the internal metal of the heater into the water ,ruining the heater. To prevent this a rod was fitted into the top of the heater cylinder, which shorted out this small electric current, but also became a Sacrificial Anode.This anode is a mix of soft metals. The amount of mineral content in the water determines the life of the anode; they are designed to be replaced periodicaly.

The canals of Europe and America allowed industrial loading of barged to transport all manner of raw materials and finished product to areas with no navigatable river over differing altitudes by using locks. These locks gave varying lengths of flat still water that even a horse could pull a loaded barge along.

The River Murray locks data would give a base or bench mark of the varying salinity of the water column. The start and finish of the canal would need to be a sump. The start to allow the use of suspended grids in the water to be Anode and Cathode with power supplied to assist salt sinkage. The sump at the top of the canal to allow a water harvester to operate efficiently, lifting less saline water up to the next section at a lower salt content. The salt could easily be syphoned back down to lower areas.

A centre delivery to the lake with drainage canals along the shores would help desalt the lake bed. Mangroves along the side channels would help stabilise that ground. The differing salt bushes, trees and salt using plants, like mangle wurzles would all help the establishment of good soil. One of Adelaide’s sewerage treatment plants was at Kilburn with the consequent effluent watering an area of irrigation, bounded by Day’s Rd,Regency Rd, Churchill Rd and Grand Junction Rd, several square miles. Grazing was sold at a penny per sheep per day and from memory, there were sheep always on lush pasture all year round.

The start of the de-salinationof Lake Torrens would be at the Pt Augusta end, with the saline water moved north along the side channels, up to the north end, to grow brine shrimp. As the lake bed became productive, the effort would move further up the lake. This is not an area to be fixed in days or weeks, but the potential ability of the area needs proper study , by making settling salt channels.