“It certainly is (a nail in the coffin),” Mr Galpin told The Australian. “It’s a negative as far as the area is concerned. It’s the last thing we need.”
The 64-year-old, his wife, Sue, and sons Jarrad and Andrew have battled tough conditions for three years. They considered selling, but are “hanging in there”.
There is little water left to pump from the river. When the pipes are not running dry, the water is too acidic. The farmer has spent more than $6000 buying water this year.
“If we hadn’t been able to buy water from the Myponga Reservoir, we would have had to close down,” Mr Galpin said. “That’s more or less saved us at a price.”
Health SA has advised that the acidic water could irritate the eyes, and has warned people to avoid contact with the tributaries. Landholders have been asked to keep stock away from the water and to provide alternate supplies.
Modelling last year predicted Finniss River and Currency Creek would acidify once water levels dropped to 0.75m below sea level. River Murray Minister Karlene Maywald said last week water levels in the Goolwa Channel were well below that point and the tributaries had disconnected, allowing acidic material to build up.
More than 300 tonnes of fine limestone have already been placed in Currency Creek, and 80 tonnes in the Finniss River to neutralise the acid.
It is hoped temporary barriers across the Goolwa Channel from Clayton to Hindmarsh Island, and across the mouths of the Finniss River and Currency Creek, will prevent further acidification.
The barriers have been approved by federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett to prevent a “bad environmental outcome” and to manage “acidification impacts”.
The Ngarrindjeri Native Title Committee is opposed to any temporary or permanent barriers across any section of the Murray or Lower Lakes.
“We do not want them because it’s going to have a huge impact on our country, on our culture and connecting to our stories,” chairman Matt Rigney told The Australian.
“We do understand the importance of water for Adelaide and the major country towns, but we’ve been caught in a situation where we’re damned if we do, damned if we don’t.”