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Resource conflict in NSW; Federal contribution sought for Chaffey Dam enlargement proposal

Posted by waterweek on 21 September 2007

Conflict was emerging over the existence of 500 million tonnes of coal and vast quantities of groundwater on the Liverpool plains, said Independent MP Tony Windsor in the Federal Parliament on 13 August 2007.

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Posted in agriculture, algae, Coal mines, Dams, Irrigation, nsw, Water Week Vol 0411 | Leave a Comment »

Qld: Warrego River water licence auction: Private trust backed by six environment groups to attempt to buy new water licences

Posted by waterweek on 21 September 2007

A bid by the Nature Conservation Water Trust backed by six environment groups would attempt to buy new Warrego River water licences due to be auctioned by the Queensland Government next week – the first of its kind in Australia where a private group of conservationists would go head to head with agriculture businesses to buy water for the environment, reported The Sydney Morning Herald, (11/09/2007, p.7).
The last resort: “All other avenues have been closed off,” said Professor Richard Kingsford, a wetlands expert from the University of New South Wales who was advising the trust. “The auction date has inexorably been coming on us with no action to stop it.” The new trust’s backers included National Parks Australia, the Australian Conservation Foundation, the Inland Rivers Network and the Wilderness Society.

Trust raising $2.5m to secure licences: A member of the new water trust had registered to bid at the auction and Kingsford said it was now trying to raise $2.5 million in the next week to secure the licences. Some money had already been collected and local graziers were “handing around the hat”.

Pvt ownership may threaten wetlands: Kingsford was also concerned that if the water licences were bought by private irrigators the survival of the Warrego and the Paroo wetlands attached to it would be under threat from cotton and crop development. The Paroo was considered one of the last natural wetland refuges in New South Wales for many inland bird species, including brolgas, egrets and the speckled duck.

NSW graziers, environmentalists protest: The auction was being held just over the border from New South Wales and was being strongly opposed by New South Wales environmentalists and graziers who feared it would cut flows to flood-plain properties in north-western New South Wales outside Bourke.

Graziers to call upon Federal, Qld Govt: A meeting of local graziers would take place on Thursday where they would again call on the Federal and Queensland governments to halt the auction.

Turnbull urges Beattie to review decision: Last Friday the Environment Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, made a plea to the outgoing Queensland Premier, Peter Beattie, to review the auction. His assistant minister, the National Party’s John Cobb, called for the auction to be delayed, calling it “ridiculous”, while the former deputy prime minister John Anderson described the Queensland actions as “provocative and unhelpful”.

Last auction in the system: The auction of 8000 megalitres of water from the Warrego River on 18 and 19 September, by the State Government, would be the last water licence auction allowed on the Murray-Darling system.

The Sydney Morning Herald, 11/9/2007, p. 7

Posted in algae, nsw, Price, qld, water, Water Markets, Water Trade, Water Week Vol 0411, Wetlands | Leave a Comment »

CSIRO cuts evaporation with water basins cover of special semi-permeable shade cloth; evaporation drops 10-fold in Vic test, from 29 megalitres to 2.9 megalitres

Posted by waterweek on 14 September 2007

A project to shade water basins to stop toxic algal blooms from forming has had an unexpected, but welcome, outcome: water loss from evaporation has also dropped dramatically, according to CSIRO publication SOLVE.

No algae: A solution to the problem – exposure to the sunlight that promotes algal blooms – has been to cover water basins with a special semi-permeable shade cloth. In a two-year $1 million trial the covers successfully inhibited the algal blooms, which are costly to clean up, and greatly reduced evaporation. CSIRO’s Dr Niall Finn said that shade cloth, which can be suspended above the water so maintenance work is not hindered, blocks 98 per cent of the light. This prevents the algae from photosynthesising.

And less evaporation: This was the expected outcome, but the bonus has been the effect on water storage. In the Mallacoota basin in Victoria, evaporation loss fell from about 10 megalitres a year to just one megalitre. Across all the covered basins evaporation was cut 10-fold, from 29 megalitres to 2.9 megalitres. “These shade cloths can be used anywhere and would be especially valuable in hotter areas where evaporation is even higher and algal bloom incidences are more prevalent,” Finn said. “They would have a benefit anywhere in Australia, but there may be a limit to the size of storage you can reasonably cover; some larger reservoirs are many hectares in area and even form part of the local ecosystem.”

Experiment to test shade cloths: From 2004, six water basins within East Gippsland Water’s region were monitored for two years. Four of the basins – at Omeo, Swifts Creek, Mallacoota and Cann River – were covered with shade cloths and two were left uncovered as controls. The trial was a collaboration between CSIRO, which conductetd the research, Gale Pacific, which made the shade cloths, Superspan, which made the cover structures that held the cloths in place, and East Gippsland Water. The shade cloths had to be strong, durable, UV-stable, resistant to abrasion, flexing and heat, and be able to sustain tension for long periods in extremes of heat and cold and in windy conditions. They are knitted from high-density polythylene monofilament yarns and tapes and supported externally by steel cables and poles from the basin banks.

Ready for use everywhere: Gale Pacific’s chief executive Peter McDonald says he is confident the cloths will be used by water boards around Australia, and possibly abroad.

Reference: SOLVE August 2007. Telephone enquiries: 1300 363 400; email: solve@csiro.au; website: http://www.csiro.au

Erisk Net, 13/8/2007

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