SA Government LogoState Library of South Australia logoDownstream, the River Murray in South Australia
SA Memory. South Australia past and present, for the future




Who 'owns' the Murray?: Corowa Water Conference and Interstate Royal Commission 1902

A prolonged drought from 1895 to 1902 drew attention to the fact that cooperation between the River Murray states and the Commonwealth government was needed to draw up regulations for Murray water use, particularly necessary in times of drought. A community-organised conference of agriculturalists wanting an assured water supply, known as the River Murray Main Canal League, met at Corowa in 1902. The Premiers of New South Wales and Victoria, the Attorney-General of South Australia and the new Prime Minister, Edmund Barton, also attended the Conference to discuss regulation of the river.

The outcome of the meeting at Corowa was the establishment of a Royal Commission to report on 'the conservation and distribution of the waters of the Murray and its tributaries for the purpose of irrigation, navigation and water supply' (Eastburn, p. 23). The Royal Commission found that the navigability of the lower Murray would eventually be secured by the use of locks and weirs but until then South Australia must be ensured a certain volume of water and New South Wales and Victoria were restricted to taking a specific amount. The South Australian delegate, FN Burchell, dissented on the report's resolutions that dealt with the allocation of the Murray waters. He believed that there was still too much emphasis on the importance of irrigation and that navigability of the river would not be maintained with the volume of water that could still be removed for this purpose. The report proposed that a commission of representatives from each of the states be established to administer regulations for the Murray as a whole, as customs and navigation were now under the control of the Commonwealth government and irrigation and conservation were managed by the states. This began the movement towards the River Murray Waters Agreement in 1915.

References

Eastburn, David. The River Murray: history at a glance, Canberra: Murray-Darling Basin Commission, 1990

Correspondence: Murray waters, The Observer, 17 May 190
View item details
Add To My SA Memory
Look at the dribble he's leaving me
View item details
Add To My SA Memory
Navigation of and irrigation from River Murray
View item details
Add To My SA Memory
The Corowa resolutions; Resolutions of the Royal Commis
View item details
Add To My SA Memory
The interstate rivers question
View item details
Add To My SA Memory

Items 1 - 5 of 5


Navigation

Home

About SA Memory

Explore SA Memory

SA Memory Themes

Search

My SA Memory

Learning

What's on

Contributors