Categories: Ainslie | Geography
The Barradar River (Arnish: Barrawurra, Merenese: Renewadar) is a major river located across the electorates of Wesland and Burnessa in the nation of Ainslie. Its source emerges on the Ahnslen side of the Ainslie-Verdon border approximately 300m south of it. It then flows generally south through the capital city of Arnton to Banji Lake before shifting in a meandering southwesterly direction before reaching Peran Cove through the Great Perali Marshlands where it primarily disperses, leaving only a comparatively small river to feed into the Cove.
The Barradar River is the largest watercourse in Ainslie and has been a vital part of civilisation in Eastern Ainslie for centuries. It begins high in the Border Ranges north of the township of Kellena very close to the official border. It then flows to the southwest where it marks the eastern border of the Upper Wesland region before moving into a meandering south-southwesterly direction through three separate dams and a levee before entering Arnton’s northern suburbs through the Capital Wild Rivers National Park. Through Arnton it is joined by multiple rivers such as the Barters and the Menin alongside South Creek. It then adjusts itself to run almost directly south through the lower tablelands through a network of narrow gorges and valleys which is a sharp contrast to the wide open water body it is as the land flattens around Arnton before it begins its rapid course to Banji Lake. Shortly after the town of Karalai, it meets the Deslin River at Ferreten before feeding into Banji Lake at Banjirai. It then, alongside three other rivers feeds this lake before making its last leg from the Lake to the Marshlands and out into the cove. The river is managed by multiple governments at the electoral and local level as well as a significant stretch of it either being under the direct or indirect control of the National Capital Authority, the statutory agency which governs the planning, strategy and vision of Arnton. The river has always been a critical means of trade and transport albeit due to the difficulties in moving between its lower and upper reaches, it did not offer an easy way of accessing the southern coast.
The Barradar River is the longest river in Ainslie and is a notably diverse riverin a number of facets. It flows through a number of different environments from montane grassland, to alpine forest, to open scrubland to temperate forest and then to more lush temperate rainforest. Multiple wetlands line the river, particularly around Burnessa. Several floodplains adjoin the river. It is also has a varying reputation for flooding depending on what communities along the river are considered. For example, around its headwaters it does not have much of a reputation for flooding owing to the speed of the river and its relatively gentle origins. As one moves towards Arnton, historically speaking the floodplains surrounding the capital and within its metropolitan area were subject to major flooding. However, owing to significant daming upstream both to supply water to the growing population on the river’s banks and as a means of flood mitigation, these problems are much less likely and of a lesser severity than they used to be. Arntoners alive today would consider the Barradar as a quite calm and idyllic river, perhaps slightly higher after significant rain and during the spring snowmelt. The other rivers and creeks in Arnton have easily surpassed it in flood risk. Moderate flooding is not uncommon for much of the rest of the river’s course through Wesland. However, it meets multiple chokepoints as it descends into the lowlands of Burnessa which can cause major but very temporary flooding. It is the stretch between Karalai and Banjirai which is most notable for flooding - particularly in the area it merges quite abruptly with the Deslin River. Floods have devastated townships along this area of the river, particularly in 1911, 1956, 1989 and 1995. Recent floods have been of less severity due to the Barradar being damned upstream and a number of weirs that have recently been built leading up to Karalai and within the township itself.
Major towns along the Barradar, tracking from north to south, include Arnton, Karalai and Banjirai. Many major roads and railways traverse the river, whilst The River Road meanders its way over and around the river from Arnton to Karalai whilst every east-facing highway out of Arnton crosses the Barradar at some point. Rainfall varies across the Barradar significantly, with it exceeding 1,500mm annually over the Border Ranges to being between 700-1000mm a year over the northern parts of Wesland to as low as 600 before it reaches Karalai where it becomes much wetter again (roughly 1,000mm of annual rainfall). Snow is very common over its headwaters whilst it is virtually unseen after Arnton. Maximum temperatures can vary widely as do minimums across the catchment. Soil quality is generally quite good, especially immediately south of Arnton and also between Arnton and the border ranges.
Issues, Governance and Management
The management and policy making decisions over the Barradar are contentious and often made through a piecemeal group of different agencies who typically are lacking in collaboration and cooperation with one another. Various authorities in charge of the River include the Federal Government’s Ahnslen Parks and Nature Authority, the Environmental Protection Agencies of Burnessa and Wesland, multiple different local councils and the National Capital Authority. Whilst there has been proposals, particularly from within Wesland and Burnessa separately to have peak bodies in each electorate to coordinate management of the river, these have failed to gain the momentum to come into being. The efforts of smaller authorities to form a cohesive and collaborative mechanism through which the river is managed are widely attributed to be hampered by the National Capital Authority (NCA), who are in charge of a wide stretch of the Barradar near Arnton. For anything that could be considered to affect Arnton’s water supply or planning protocols, the NCA must approve of it - this includes new ways of overseeing and looking after the river.
Water Allocation and Management
Stemming from this lack of clear stability and certainty regarding who manages the river, the contesting interests of urban residents, agriculturalists, environmentalists and electoral governments can get quite heated. This is particularly true for the issue of water allocation - that being how much water is let out of the upstream dams of the Barradar (which are typically part of the Arnton Water Grid and hence subject to oversight by the National Capital Authority) through to southern Wesland communities and through to Burnessa. Particularly in drought, many communities downstream are typically worse off than Arnton due to the dams not releasing as much as they normally would. This results in lower yields for the large agricultural districts along the Barradar when there is water shortages and draws major ire from the Burnessan Government to Wesland. Fortunately, times of drought are normally mild and transient along the Barradar - one of the few watercourses in Ainslie widely considered to be ‘drought proof’.
Whilst the Barradar rarely flows at a disappointing pace or volume, it is well known for the major floods it can cause where its course narrows, is interrupted or is boosted by the confluence of other rivers. This is particularly true for the lower reaches of the river where in some parts it narrows where floods are fast, major and destructive and in others it sits on flat, low floodplains which drain very slowly. This is in contrast to the Barradar about the Capital Region and north of it, which rarely floods despite higher rain levels and the heavy human development around it. Such a disparity has raised the saying that in Burnessa the Barradar is “all or nothing”. The phenomenon is also the source of the idiom “as inconsistent as the Barradar” to describe someone who goes from 0 to 100 and vice versa in a social or political context.
Pollution & Habitat Restoration
Pollution was a major issue when dirty industry lined the Barradar, particularly in the early years of Arnton’s development and construction. However, concerted efforts since the mid 20th century have cleaned the river up and ensured that stormwater and sewage is managed wisely and prudently - this often comes at the cost of smaller watercourses near the Barradar though. As Arnton has largely slowed in population growth and its industries move towards service-based and knowledge-driven business, the Barradar has thrived under multiple governments enthusiastic to right the environmental wrongs of years gone by. In particular, this has spawned the gazzetting of multiple national parks across the river - particularly around the north of the river where much of it is surrounded by a thin stretch of national park which divides the river from large agricultural precincts. Further, the river is now a major source of recreation and leisure, leading to many of the urban councils placing parks around it and doing rejuvenation works to improve the natural assets around it. These two factors have led to the Barradar being quite a clean and undisturbed river compared to similar watercourses with large populations depending on them elsewhere - provided that one does not consider the careful management of its flows through the Arnton Dam Network and the weirs and levee systems which line the south of its course.