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Murray Darling Armageddon: Ministers agree to drain and block 44 wetlands and build a new weir at Wellington

Posted by waterweek on 21 September 2007

Like the Mayan collapse, it appeared the Murray Darling Basin was in armageddon mode. The long-predicted climatic change appeared to have come early. The Declaration by the the three States, was released by the Prime Minister, who under the just-passed Contingency Planning Overview Report to First Ministers, 20 September 2007.

44 wetlands to die, with more to come: Plans were listed for the death of 44 wetlands with more to come “Senior officials will continue to review the extent to which further wetland disconnection for the purposes of contingency planning is recommended in the Murray System in 2007-08.

Without precedent: “We are facing a spring and summer on the Murray like no other since Hume Dam was completed in 1936,” Chief Executive Dr Wendy Craik AM said today. “The unprecedented combination of both low storage levels and low inflows will require us to operate outside our normal operating regime.”

The Overview Report to First Ministers said: “Disconnection of regulated wetlands to save water in the system continues in each State”:

• The NSW Government temporarily disconnected one regulated wetland (Tareena Billabong) in June 2007. At Euston Lakes evaporation savings will be achieved via lowering of the weir pool. This will have the same effect as disconnecting these wetlands.

• In South Australia, twenty-seven wetlands were closed in January 2007 and two additional wetlands (Ross and Jaeschke Lagoons) were disconnected in June 2007.

The Minister for the Environment and Water Resources determined on 24 August 2007 that the temporary disconnection of a further seven wetlands in South Australia does not need approval under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (1999) (EPBC Act).

• The Murray-Darling Basin Commission has agreed to funding disconnection of six of these wetlands, including the provision of alternative water supplies for existing users;

• The Victorian Government has completed a preliminary assessment of potential wetlands for temporary disconnection.

Temporary weir near Wellington: After a referral by South Australia, the Australian Government Minister for the Environment and Water Resources has determined that the construction of a temporary weir near Wellington is a controlled action for the purposes of the EPBC Act. The temporary weir is to be assessed at the level of an Environmental Impact Statement. The South Australian Government will make an announcement regarding the weir during September 2007.

Posted in agriculture, Allocations, australia, Drought, Emergency, Environmental Flows, Irrigation, mdb, Murray Darling Basin, Policy, Project Approvals, River Murray, SA, Victoria, water, Water Week Vol 0411, Wetlands | Leave a Comment »

Bendigo had no natural waterway sufficient to sustain a city of 100,000 people

Posted by waterweek on 20 September 2007

In his electorate of Bendigo there was no natural waterway sufficient to sustain a city of 100,000 people, said Labor MP Steve Gibbons in the Federal Parliament on 14 August 2007.

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Posted in Pipeline, Policy, Project Approvals, Victoria, Water Week Vol 0411 | Leave a Comment »

Studies in WA-279-P for Blacktip devt find diverse and abundant marine life fauna, Drillsearch report shows

Posted by waterweek on 20 September 2007

There was limited information available concerning the benthic communities in the permit area; however, a previous study by Bowman Bishaw Gorham (unpublished data for Blacktip Project) encountered sandy substrates containing shell and crustacean fragments, and pebbles of terrestrial origin, according to the Drillsearch Energy Limited, Drilling of Marina-1 Exploration Well EPBC Referral Submission (24/7/2007). Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Energy, Extinctions, Fauna, Gas, Marine, Project Approvals, wa, water, Water Week Vol 0411 | Leave a Comment »

Tasmanian Premier Paul Lennon shows “poor judgment”; Gunns pulp mill saga grinds towards Turnbull’s desk, oiled by 700 submissions

Posted by waterweek on 19 September 2007

Tasmanian Premier Paul Lennon had not helped himself, showing poor judgment when he allowed a company owned by Gunns to renovate his home when the state Government was trying to push through the $2 billion pulp-mill project for Gunns, according to The Australian (15/9/2007, p. 26).

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Posted in Policy, pollution, Project Approvals, Public Opinion, Water Week Vol 0411 | Leave a Comment »

“A plan so cunning you could put a tail on it and call it a weasel”: Howard’s support for Tamar pulp mill in Tas

Posted by waterweek on 18 September 2007

The proposed pulp mill in Tasmania’s Tamar Valley was at the forefront of John Howard’s mind because it represented one part of his last-ditch plan to turn the polls around and snatch electoral victory, wrote Dennis Shanahan in The Australian (15/9/2007, p.19).

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Posted in Deforestation, Federal Election, Plantation forestry, Policy, pollution, Project Approvals, Public Opinion, Tasmania, Water Week Vol 0411 | Leave a Comment »

Tasmanian pulp mill debate crosses Strait to create ripples in federal politics

Posted by waterweek on 18 September 2007

The best efforts of both major parties to quarantine the Tamar Valley pulp mill debate south of Bass Strait continued to fail dismally, according to Matthew Denholm reported The Australian (15/9/2007, p.31).
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Posted in Deforestation, Federal Election, Plantation forestry, Policy, Project Approvals, Public Opinion, Tasmania, Water Week Vol 0411 | Leave a Comment »

Details of complex history of Tasmanian pulp mill assessment laid bare in Legislative Council

Posted by waterweek on 18 September 2007

The history of the hearings on the application for a permit to construct a proposed pulp mill by Gunns was detailed by T.L. Martin in the Tasmanian Legislative Council on 28 August 2007.

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Posted in Deforestation, Federal Election, Plantation forestry, Policy, Project Approvals, Public Opinion, Tasmania, Water Week Vol 0411 | Leave a Comment »

98.7 per cent of poll respondents say “No” to Tasmanian pulp mill

Posted by waterweek on 17 September 2007

An online reader poll this week had revealed an unprec­edented level of opposition to the pro­posed Tasmanian pulp mill, reported the Wentworth Courier (12/9/2007, p. 7).

Rigorous assessment to be undertaken: “There were 776 responses to our question ‘Should the pulp mill pro­ceed in the Tamar Valley?’ with 98.7 per cent of voters answering ‘No’,” the newspaper reported. “In response to the poll, the federal Environment Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, said voters in Wentworth would expect him to undertake a com­prehensive environmental assessment of the project. He said his extended six-week deadline had allowed for that. ‘The assessment process I have put in place with an independent review by the chief scientist has now been acknowledged, even by opponents of the pulp mill, as a thorough and rigor­ous one,’ Mr Turnbull said.”

Fast-tracking challenged: “The figures echo a recent Newspoll in the northern Tasmanian electorate of Bass,” the Wentworth Courier said. “Of a sample of 400 voters the poll found that more than half were against the construction of the mill. Debate over the $2 billion Gunns pulp mill has been played out in Malcolm Turnbull’s electorate after a critical advertisement funded by businessman Geoffrey Cousins. Mr Cousins’ advertisement in the Courier challenged the MP over fast-tracking the environmental assess­ment process of the mill.”

Mill “will have no significant impact” say owners: “Pulp mill company Gunns responded with its own full-page advertisement last week, claiming the residents of Wentworth were being subjected to a campaign of misinformation,” the newspaper reported. “Gunns said the project would have no signifi­cant impact on the local environment or the tourism and wine industries. In a forum at Waverley RSL last week, Greens leader Bob Brown con­demned Gunns’ comments, saying the mill was ‘an absolute assault on the atmosphere of this planet’.”

Wentworth Courier, 12/9/2007, p. 7

Posted in Federal Election, Project Approvals, Public Opinion, Tasmania, Water Week Vol 0411 | Leave a Comment »

Coal buried under Sydney’s catchment area may never be extracted unless it can be mined without disrupting the city’s future water supply

Posted by waterweek on 14 September 2007

Up to $31 billion worth of coal buried under Sydney’s catchment area may never be extracted unless it can be mined without disrupting the city’s future water supply, reported The Australian (15/8/2007, p.7).

SCA seeks tougher approval process for mining: While the Sydney Catchment Authority yesterday stopped short of proposing a moratorium on mining, it recommended a tougher approval process. In its submission to an inquiry into the future of underground coal mining on the southern outskirts of Sydney, the authority said limited information was available on the impact of the industry on the water supply.

SCA moderates tone for final draft: It is understood earlier drafts of the SCA submission took a harder line on the coal industry, with the tone moderated in the final draft submitted to the inquiry. Miners in the region include BHP Billiton, Centennial Coal and Peabody Energy, with up to five new development applications under the catchment expected to be made in the next year.

Environmental damage due to mining: Some underground mining in the southern coalfields has caused significant environmental damage to pristine rivers and creeks in the region. Sections of rivers and creeks have drained into large cracks and subsidence has been caused by operations hundreds of metres underground.

Loss of lows: Since 2004, longwall mining under the Waratah Rivulet has resulted in the loss of flows for approximately 2km caused by fracturing of the riverbed and rock bars. In 1998, the Cataract River went dry as a result of cracking of the riverbed. The damage has angered residents and activists. They have called for a moratorium on mining under the catchment and nearby rivers, questioning the viability of the industry.

SCA calls for delays, not bans: Submissions to the panel of five experts closed at the end of last month, with public hearings to begin next month. Significantly, the SCA submission to the inquiry did not oppose mining under the Sydney catchment, nor did it suggest the banning of mining under rivers or endorse the need for mandatory buffer zones. However, it said future approvals should be delayed or denied if there was insufficient information on potential impacts requiring either more detailed assessment or changes to mining practices and layouts. SCA chief executive Graeme Head said mining companies and the state Government needed to improve scientific understanding of the impacts and mitigation of underground mining to better protect Sydney’s valuable water supplies.

The Australian, 15/8/2007, p. 7

Posted in Coal mines, Mining, Policy, Project Approvals, Public Opinion, Water Week Vol 0411 | Leave a Comment »