I was told the oldest river gums were having a …

Comment on Sands in Todd more stable than you think (re-published with Maxine Cook’s comment) by Maxine Cook.

I was told the oldest river gums were having a problem in the 80s because the town area was no longer drawing the amount of water it used to from the immediate town water basin and with the good rainfall years from 1965-1985, raising the water level, then 85-86 being a drought, then 86-2007 being good seasons again.
I was told the remedy was to start pumping a certain amount of water from the basin to keep the water to the desired level as the older trees, having longer roots, were not able to avoid the rising salty water.
For quite a few years the creek had water above ground for most of the year which would have waterlogged a lot of the old trees. In the late 50s to early 60s, a lot of the wells people had in their back yards were not very deep but were becoming salty and contaminated. You had to be 100 yards from Billy Goat Hill, to be able to have a septic system in your yard but it didn’t say you couldn’t have one if your neighbour had a well in their yard, which I know was the case at our place!
The increase in the number of trees in the newer photos of the town is really noticeable, when you compare them with the old original history photos.
We had constant dust storms in the early days also, that would blow away any top soil that had developed from the silt and mulch. The lack of dust storms now must be a spin-off from having the amount of development and trees in the town and surrounding areas now?
With more vegetation up in the catchment area the water would also be carrying more sediment with it in each flow as it cleans out the ground cover silt from the catchment areas.
This is all being dropped as it goes past the islands building up more, and helping with the regeneration of our trees and protecting their roots. As the river can’t be made wider it can only be made deeper, or otherwise a dam could be the only other option?
Before the guttering and storm drains were put in around the town the water during rain used to just flow through the town along the streets but now it all has to flow down around town and down the river towards The Gap. I think the engineers have done a great job of draining the town even just since 1984, as prior to that just a minor rainfall used to cause quite bad flooding through certain areas.
The constant rainfall we had in 2010 was a good test for the drainage around town as the areas I used to notice flooding didn’t that year!
I think our creek and its banks look a picture when the lush green couch is mowed. Now that we don’t have untidy camping in the creek bed it is really something for the council to be proud of.
They must have been doing something right for the amount of trees that have regenerated and are in top condition. The infrastructure is very attractive and something the town should be proud of.
The lack of vegetation in the 1926 photo was not caused by over grazing! The place may have been primitive but the goats etc. were not just roaming around the town.
During the drought in 58-65 the only green places outside people’s own yards in town, were where the drain outlets into the creek supplied water for the couch grass, in between the odd rain and spurt of natural herbage for a week after rain, with the couch lasting a lot longer. Couch only goes to ground after frost but comes alive again after the frost stops.

Maxine Cook Also Commented

Sands in Todd more stable than you think (re-published with Maxine Cook’s comment)
The area referred to on the river used to silt up from deposits of silt dropped by the water coming from the eastern drainage areas, meeting with the Todd. They used to be very muddy after rain and flooding. Yes, the vegetation thrived in the moisture holding mulch left by the water flows.
I have photos of the opposite side of the river below the Meyer’s Hill (Miss Pink’s Hill), in her day! That shows that there was no river bank 60 yrs ago the hill rocks just went straight into the river.
The two big trees on the corner of the of the hill were not much smaller than they are now, but the now bank would be protecting them from flood damage in the future as the river sand on that corner is now quite a deal lower than it was when my photos were taken, with the trees looking like they were sitting in the river sand at the bottom of the hill rocks.
Maybe a properly constructed walk way and bank on this corner would prevent further erosion and possible damage to the old trees. The fact that the bank has built up at the base of the hill shows the water flows slower on the corner as it is being pushed to the west by the water coming from the east.

Recent Comments by Maxine Cook

River management: the struggle to get long-term action (re-published with Maxine Cook’s comment)
I have never had a problem with it stopping my plants growing in my garden where ever I have planted various plants. I have observed when the couch was poisoned the buffel and love grasses took over, and landscapers had also told me they have observed this also.
The question is why didn’t these grasses grow in the same position before the couch was poisoned? For instance, my Peruviun lilies grow in my garden happily without the couch showing all year but during their dormant three months the couch takes over the bed as a ground cover. But as soon as the bulbs start growing again the couch goes back to ground. The end result is a constant green cover in the garden area where the bulbs have been for 30 years. I dug out all the buffel when I first bought my block and the couch came up and stayed. I am sure if I got rid of the couch I would then have a problem with the buffel again.
Maybe it is a grass thing! They tolerate different other types of plants but prefer to only have their own kind of grass growing next to them. From what I can remember from a kid the mitchel grass planes didn’t have much else growing in the area, not even many trees! But couch grass grows quite happily amongst the river trees and didn’t appear to be harming them, during the drought, if any this it would have helped retain the moisture in the top soil. Grass becomes damp to sit on at night. Couch does go to ground after the first frost and remains under ground until the frosts stop. During this time other plants can take over the area, like other grasses. In a nutshell, grasses usually like to have an area of their own, say like roses, so as couch is the lesser of the evils i.e. buffel and love grass, then I would rather have it in my yard. If you plant other species in your yard the couch will back off. Trees are only affected when couch or other grasses are present if you don’t supply enough water to support both species.

LETTER: Sticking our heads in the sands of the Todd (re-published with Maxine Cook’s comment)
I too was surprised when I saw them constructing the Imparja building on that block using under ground parking. I had seen the above ground house of Driver’s get flooded in very small rive flows.
They have built up the bridge access roads in front of the building but the whole bridge setup is going to cause a bottleneck for a large flood!
The water was lapping very close under the bridge one year and the police stopped us crossing the bridge as they were unsure of safety if the water rose ant higher.
What is going to happen if if it does? The casino bridge caused a bottleneck in The Gap area which flooded the flats opposite one year. The water coming from the Hidden Valley area used to spread out over the Chifley Hotel area when it flooded. Now that it is contained by the large drain banks, is this not going to cause the water flowing from it to push the Todd water to spread more to the west, and cause it to be deeper?
As they have narrowed our water course they need to remove some of the sand banks to allow more water to flow along it, otherwise it will be inevitable that it will break its banks if we have another good rainfall.
Damming the Todd like they wanted to do years ago would have prevented a lot of future water problems with both flooding and lack of water in the town area.

River management: the struggle to get long-term action (re-published with Maxine Cook’s comment)
The council did the right thing a few years ago removing the sand at The Gap etc., as poisoning the grass wasn’t going to remove the network of root and stem structures from the sand that was holding it together. Couch root and stem systems can be found 3 or more meters under the sand, and with a flood wetting down 3 meters then it will come back up again. It will take a lot of poison to kill the roots down that far, and as the length of root stem will be broken a lot of the time by flooding, spraying the top plant is not going to get the other little bits just waiting for the next flood.
It is only commonsense that the sand is going to move during each flooding of the river and end up in a position it is probably not wanted. The photo above shows how much sand had built up in that area alone. Water has always been close to the surface in the above area, making it difficult to ride a horse across the river at the above spot without sinking into the sand, even though it looked dry.
The road at times has been well above the river sand level, so if it is covered with sand it needs to be removed. Those mounds were not in The Gap in the 60s as we used to ride our horses home from the common every weekend without having to worry about obstacles in the creek bed. Spraying buffel grass on the surface doesn’t remove it as the seed falls into the dead clump and regrows. The only way to remove buffel is to dig it out i.e. bulldoze it out!!
Couch is a natural drought resistant ground cover that doesn’t stop other plants from growing. It is easy to mow and keep tidy as a lawn, requiring little or no care, to regenerate after a long dry spell.
Where couch is allowed to grow it will keep out the nuisance grasses like buffel and love grass, which move in when couch is removed.
The Alice Springs area grasses were said to be herbage and four day grasses which germinated and grew after very minimal rain, flowered and died off again until the next rain. Only the couch survived during each bout of rain.

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