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Disturbing, vague police-powers in Aus now endangering democracy, warns Australia Institute chief

Posted by waterweek on 20 September 2007

More so than ever before in Australia, the police were empowered, if not in law then by implicit political fiat, to interrogate, intimidate and even assault people innocent of any crime but suspected of associating with the wrong people, wrote Clive Hamilton, executive director of the Australia Institute, in The Sydney Morning Herald (7/9/2007, p.26). Read the rest of this entry »


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Aus legal duty of confidentiality extends to those who “happen to come across” information

Posted by waterweek on 20 September 2007

In Australia, the law relating to confidential information became well-established over the past 40 years, and it was now settled that a legal duty of confidence was not limited to a person who received information confidentially, reported The Courier Mail (4/9/2007, p.18). Read the rest of this entry »

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State governments share liability with Commonwealth for post-2014 water compensation: NSW government says change “unacceptable”

Posted by waterweek on 20 September 2007

Clause 255 of the Water Bill 2007 provides that nothing in the Bill or regulations authorises the Commonwealth or any other agency to compulsorily acquire a water access right or an interest in a water access right, according to advice released by the Department of Parliamentary Service on 14 August 2007. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Allocations, Energy, Environmental Flows, Law, nsw, Policy, Regulation, water, Water Markets, Water Trade, Water Week Vol 0411 | Leave a Comment »

Abandoned Queensland mining sites: remediation deposit collected by EPA grossly inadequate: left for landholder to clean up

Posted by waterweek on 19 September 2007

According to , Peter Kenny, president of land holder lobby-group AgForce, mining operations have abandoned a site and the remediation deposit collected by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been grossly inadequate, which means the site is effectively left for landholder to clean up. This situation must be rectified and the EPA given the powers and resources to properly manage this situation, he wrote in Queensland Country Life, (6/9/2007), p. 35.

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Posted in Coal mines, Deforestation, Law, Policy, qld, Vegetation, Water Week Vol 0411 | Leave a Comment »

NSW water-mediations fail: back to NSW Land and Environment Court, as three irrigator groups’ class-actions open, against NSW government

Posted by waterweek on 19 September 2007

Mediation between Lower Murray and Lower Murrumbidgee groundwater users and the NSW and federal governments on Monday and Tuesday over com­pensation for drastic reductions in water entitlements failed to achieve a result. But groundwater users in zone one of the Upper Namoi reached an agreement they hope will allow them to withdraw their court action against the NSW Government, reported Alan Dick of The Land, (13/9/2007), p. 25.

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National Plan for Water Security: 62 versions of legislation secretly circulated since 25 January, says Labor

Posted by waterweek on 19 September 2007

Although the Prime Minister’s announcement of his $10 billion National Plan for Water Security on 25 January was more a headline than a policy, Labor provided in-principle bipartisan support because it had been calling for greater national leadership in water policy from day one, said Labor’s Anthony Albanese in the Federal Parliament on 14 Augist 2007.

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Tasmania’s Hydro-Electric Commission must supply unknown quantity of water to unknown number of irrigators along Ouse and Lake rivers

Posted by waterweek on 18 September 2007

Riparian land-holders on the Lake River below Woods Lake and the Ouse River below Waddamana had a statutory right to take water for irrigation under the Electricity Supply Industry Restructuring (Savings and Transitional Provisions) Act 1995 and therefore did not require a water licence under the Water Management Act 1999, said Doug Parkinson, Leader of the Government in the Council, in the Tasmanian Legislative Council on 30 August 2007.

Fifty year old agreement still honoured: “When the Poatina power development was approved in 1957,” Parkinson said, “one of the mitigating actions negotiated for diverting the water in Great Lake to the north was a statutory obligation on the Hydro-Electric Commission to make water available to riparian irrigators along the Ouse and Lake rivers. These obligations were carried over at corporatisation of the Hydro-Electric Commission.”

Legislation cited: According to Parkinson the current statutory requirement was the Electricity Supply Industry Restructuring (Savings and Transitional Provisions) Act 1995 Division 2, the Lake River and River Ouse, Section 16(1), which laid down that owners of land within boundaries specified in the section had to be provided with “water reasonably required for the irrigation of that land from the beds of the Lake River and the River Ouse and the channels of the Lawrenny Irrigation Works that have continued in existence since 1 November 1957 or earlier”.

Boundaries defined: The land defined in the legislation was:

• the area of land in the Parish of Lawrenny, County of Cumberland, bounded … on the south-west by the River Derwent from its confluence with the River Ouse to its confluence with the River Clyde thence on the east by the River Clyde in a general northerly direction to the Lyell Highway thence on the north-east in a general north-westerly direction by that highway to the River Ouse and thence on the west by the River Ouse in a general southerly direction to the point of commencement; and

• the riparian tenements situated on the Lake River and the River Ouse below Waddamana.

Number and capacity of pumps only limit: “Under the terms of the original Loan (Hydro-Electric Commission) Act 1957, Hydro Tasmania is required to maintain Lake and Ouse river flows for reasonable irrigation,” Parkinson said. “In practical terms, irrigators who are covered by the act were only limited by their ability to remove water from the river – that is, the number and capacity of their pumps. As water licences are not required it is not known exactly how many irrigators are extracting water from the Lake and Ouse rivers and in what quantities. In addition, not all landowners on the Lake and Ouse rivers extract a similar volume of water for irrigation purposes each year due to variations in farming practices.”

Reference: Doug Parkinson, Leader of the Government in the Council, Member for Wellington, Legislative Council, Parliament of Tasmania, Tasmania, 30 August 2007.

Posted in Energy, Hydro, Irrigation, Law, Policy, Tasmania, Water Week Vol 0411 | Leave a Comment »

Federal Government considers buying the eight gigalitres to be auctioned on the Warrego

Posted by waterweek on 17 September 2007

The results of the CSIRO survey into the Warrego River, the first of a series on the basin, was alarming because it suggested that more developed river systems, like the Condamine-Balonne, will face serious problems, according to Asa Wahlquist in The Australian (8/9/2007, p.5).

Water extraction to be halved: By 2030, climate change and water use will see a 7 per cent reduction in the amount of water that flows out of the Warrego, in southwest Queensland, into the Darling. Water extraction would have to be halved on the second-least developed river in the basin for the Warrego’s water-sharing plan, which specifies 89 per cent of its flows should reach the Darling.

Less than 12GL of private water storage along Warrego: The Murray-Darling Basin Commission reports there is less than 12 gigalitres (billion litres) of private water storage built along the Warrego, compared with 1333GL on the Condamine-Balonne. In 2005-06, 25GL passed through Cunnamulla on the Warrego, while the total flow through St George, on the Balonne, was 123GL.

CSIRO report result of Water Summit: The CSIRO report includes the eight gigalitres of Warrego water that the Queensland Government intends auctioning off. The report was commissioned by the Prime Minister’s Water Summit last November and is the most comprehensive report of its kind undertaken by the organisation. The CSIRO assessed current water use, including the interaction between ground-water and surface water. It also estimated future water use, looking at the impact of climate change and future developments like plantations and farm dams that would reduce stream flow.

Climate models variation: Dr Hatton said the best estimate of the impact of climate change on the Warrego was that it would reduce river flows by 6 per cent in 2030, leading to 7 per cent less water flowing into the Darling River. “It is important to appreciate there is variation among the climate models.” He said the hydrology of the 137,000-hectare Yantabulla swamp, and the water holes along the Warrego had not been affected by current development.

Lowest inflow on record last year: Last year, inflows into the Murray were the lowest on record, just 1211GL, far below the average of 11,100GL Assistant federal Environment and Water Resources Minister John Cobb said the report “underlines the incredible variability of the system”. He said the federal Government was considering buying the eight gigalitres to be auctioned on the Warrego.

Posted in Allocations, Auction, Climate, Irrigation, Law, mdb, nsw, Price, qld, Water Week Vol 0411 | Leave a Comment »

Frightful Federal rush: Assessment of practical operation of Water Bill impeded by absence of RIS

Posted by waterweek on 17 September 2007

A Water Bill had been in development for several months through various intergovernmental working groups but the Explanatory Memorandum had failed to include a Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS)(16/08/07).

No draft: Earlier versions of the Bill had been circulated to some peak stakeholder rural, commercial and environmental groups. However, no exposure draft or outline had been publicly released before introduction of the Bill into Parliament on 8 August. Some believed that this was partly due to the politically sensitive nature of the negotiations regarding key principles underlying the Bill.

RIS ensures transparency:The Explanatory Memorandum did not include a RIS. Under the government’s Legislative Handbook, a RIS had to be prepared for all proposed new or amending legislation which directly affected business or which had a significant indirect effect on business or restricted competition.

RIS analyses viability: One of the major benefits of having a RIS prepared and incorporated in the Explanatory Memorandum was that it often provided a useful analysis of the practical operation of how key provisions in the Bill would affect businesses and other related stakeholders.

Omitting a RIS: Whilst the Explanatory Memorandum did not say why a RIS was not included, it was understood that the reason was that the Bill’s focus was more of a planning and management framework, and it was only regulations of instruments made under the Bill which would have had a sufficient effect on business to warrant a RIS.

Numerous obstacles: Although this was arguably true, the assessment of the practical operation of the Bill was impeded by several factors. These included the lack of a RIS, the extremely short time allocated to the relevant Parliamentary inquiry and the scheduling of debate less than one week after introduction, particularly given the length and importance of the Bill.

Reference: Bill McCormick, Science, Technology, Environment, and Resources Section, Water Bill 2007 – Angus Martyn and Paula Pyburne Law and Bills Digest Section, Parliamentary Library Information – analysis and advice for the Parliament, Parliament of Australia Department of Parliamentary Service, 14 August 2007, no. 30, 2007-08, ISSN 1328-8091.

Erisk Net

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Cotton, citrus growers on Macquarie River claim new aerial photos prove marsh graziers using legal and illegal levee banks and channels to flood land with water

Posted by waterweek on 14 September 2007

Cotton and citrus growers on the Macquarie River upstream of the marshes claim new aerial photos prove marsh graziers are using legal and illegal levee banks and channels to flood their land with water that should be going into the Macquarie Marshes nature reserves, reported The Sydney Morning Herald (15/8/2007, p.10).

Graziers: it’s legal: Graziers insist most of the structures are legal and no water is being stolen because their land is part of the marshes. Irrigation development on the Macquarie River after the Burrendong Dam was built in the 1960s. Graziers say that until then, their land and the nature reserves were frequently flooded and boasted healthy wetlands. Upstream irrigators claim the marshes are dying because of overgrazing and graziers diverting water.

Govt in mass irrigation licence buy-back: The marshes, north of Warren, cover about 200,000 hectares, 12 per cent of them in nature reserves. The Government has started spending millions buying back irrigation licences so more water can get to the marshes. Chris Hogendyk, the head of the irrigator group Macquarie River Food and Fibre, said the Gum Cowal-Terrigal branch of the marshes received less than 10 per cent of flood flows before 1980 but now got up to 30 per cent of what previously went to the nature reserves.

Flooding kills trees: There were once no large bird breeding colonies on the system, he said, but now there were several. “The water should be going to the nature reserves, not onto private land. Once water enters the Gum Cowal-Terrigal system it is diverted and banked up across the floodplain by no less than 30 banks and channels. This water creates wonderful feed for fattening cattle, but kills the trees that are flooded. The resulting man-made wetlands are grazed bare.” Hogendyk said.

The Sydney Morning Herald, 15/8/2007, p. 10

Posted in Allocations, australia, Drought, GIS, Law, mdb, nsw, Policy, qld, Water Week Vol 0411 | Leave a Comment »

Sophisticated grey water recycling could produce 22 gigalitres of potable water – half amount produced by new WA desalination plant, says MP

Posted by waterweek on 14 September 2007

The Water Services Association of Australia reported that all capital cities would have to find new sources of water such as desalination and recycling, said MP Stuart Henry in the Federal House of Representatives on 14 August 2007.

Grey water recycling advocated: “An earlier report by this association poured cold water on the idea of grey water recycling,” Henry said, “apparently because of potential health and environmental impacts and that such a measure did not save much water anyway. I think they are wrong on all counts. I am aware of work that was done in the early 1990s in Perth that demonstrated that, with an effective grey water retrofit program, an additional 22 gigalitres of potable water could be created and/or saved.”

Grey water technology much improved: “Twenty-two gigalitres is about half the potable water produced by the new desalination plant in Western Australia. Its capacity is 45 gigalitres and cost some $400 million. On top of that you have significant energy costs in terms of greenhouse gases plus some threat to the marine environment. The sophistication of grey water systems has improved greatly and, coupled with appropriate management strategies, threats to health and the environment are negligible. The community forums I have conducted to date have been well attended. The community wants to have — and needs to have — information on all the options available to them and to have a choice.”

Reference: Stuart Henry, Federal Member for Hasluck, House of Representative, Commonwealth, 14 August 2007.

Erisk Net, 19/8/2007

Posted in australia, desalination, Drought, Emergency, Law, Policy, recycled water, wa, water, Water Week Vol 0411 | Leave a Comment »

NWI Clause 77 risk-sharing formula, if available water is reduced in future and agreed by all governments and supported by farmers, says Minister Turnbull

Posted by waterweek on 14 September 2007

Any suggestion that clause 77 of the bill introducing the National Water Initiative (NWI), which talks about risk sharing, amounted to compulsory acquisition, showed a misunderstanding, said Malcolm Turnbull, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, in the Federal House of Representatives on 14 August 2007.

Risk sharing is not acquisition: “The fact is that compulsory acquisition is ruled out in this bill,” the Minister said. “It is not part of the government’s policy, and we have made it express in the legislation that there is no power for compulsory acquisition. However, a central plank of the reforms under the National Water Initiative was to move from the old system of volumetric licences to water access entitlements that are a perpetual or ongoing share of the available resource. If the amount of water available in the future is reduced— and this is canvassed and contemplated in the NWI as a possibility—a risk-sharing formula applies to spread those risks between water users, the states and the Commonwealth. The bill achieves the codification of the Commonwealth’s NWI responsibilities for risk sharing. That is not acquisition. The legal status of water entitlements is not affected.”

Arrangements widely supported: “Importantly, through these arrangements, the government is meeting its NWI commitments,” Turnbull said. “These arrangements have been agreed to by all governments and are supported by farming organisations and farmers around Australia and have been ever since 2004. So, with respect to the member for Grayndler, he misunderstands the nature of the legislation and indeed the National Water Initiative itself.”

Reference: Malcolm Turnbull, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, Federal Member for Wentworth, House of Representative, Commonwealth, 14 August 2007.

Erisk Net, 19/8/2007

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