Archived Industry News for Water Professionals - July, 2012
The Namoi Catchment Water Study, commissioned by the NSW Government and prepared by Schlumberger, has found that mining and coal seam gas drilling at current levels are unlikely to cause extensive regional-scale damage water supplies in north-west NSW. Increased mining could be expected to place more pressure on fresh water supplies.
However, the study found that ''More local scale impacts are likely and the cumulative effects of numerous developments in close proximity will increase the risk to the water resources in those areas.''
The study concluded that “With long-term and more extensive development, especially within the Gunnedah Basin Management Area where the likelihood of further development of coal and gas resources is highest, the cumulative effect of impacts on groundwater levels in the hard rock units and alluvium will be more significant.”
The Queensland Government is planning to repeal legislation put in place by previous Labor governments to protect the Cape York Peninsula, and replace wild river declarations covering the Archer, Wenlock, Stewart and Lockhart basins with a development plan for the region.
The Queensland Government has proposed a $100 million, four year Floodplain Security Scheme (FSS) and called on the Federal Government to match State spending in the program which would aim to flood-proof large parts of Queensland.
Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney has written to the Federal Minister for Emergency Management Nicola Roxon seeking Federal support for an overall approach to flood risk management and mitigation efforts.
Mr Seeney said Queensland would commit $40 million over the next four years to deliver a comprehensive planned program of flood mitigation, but believed Federal and local government involvement could create a $100 million flood mitigation fund.
“It is the Queensland Government’s view that the FSS, part of the Royalties for Regions program, should be funded on a 2:2:1 basis with the Commonwealth and State Governments providing $2 million for every $1 million provided by local government,” Mr Seeney said.
“A matching $40 million commitment from the Federal Government would provide significant and vital investment in reducing the flood risk for Queensland communities and would reduce the financial exposure of all levels of government to future disaster events.”
Mr Seeney said the recent Charleville flood where levees prevented flooding in the town and saved tens of millions of dollars in disaster and insurance payouts showed the benefits of effective proactive mitigation work.
“Upfront investment can provide long term savings to all levels of government and the community and provide increased confidence to the insurance sector.”
The board of Unitywater has appointed of George Theo as CEO. Mr Theo has been acting in the role since May this year and previously held the role of Chief Operating Officer where he played a pivotal role in Unitywater’s establishment.
NSW Water Commissioner, David Harriss, has released a report summarising the management of the 2011-12 floods through the Barwon-Darling and Menindee Lakes systems.
The SunWater Board has decided not to proceed with the Connors River Dam and Pipelines (CRDP) project in Central Queensland because it is not financially viable.
Two of New South Wales’ 13 regional Catchment Action Plans have been now been upgraded and approved.
Central West and Namoi Catchment Management Authorities (CMAs) were the first to upgrade and refine their Catchment Action Plans to take account of environmental, economic and social changes since they were introduced five years ago.
The other CMAs will now follow suit and their reviews are expected to be completed early next year.
The updated plans will include:
- more focus on areas that need to become more resilient;
- mapping priorities for investment and action to maintain and improve this resilience; and
- stronger collaboration with communities and relevant government agencies.
The City of Sydney plans to roll out a city-wide system of stormwater recycling to reduce harbour pollution and ensure Sydney's water supply never runs out.
The Australian Rivers Institute at Griffith University has been awarded funding from the Queensland Government and Chinese Academy of Sciences for a joint research project into pollution in our waterways.
The NSW Office of Water's revised aquifer interference draft policy has been criticised as bowing to pressure from the mining industry and exempting major projects from its controls.
The Queensland Government has announced the release of water from two Gulf of Carpentaria rivers to support irrigated agriculture in north-west Queensland.
Minister for Natural Resources and Mines Andrew Cripps said unallocated water from the Flinders River and Gilbert River catchment areas would enhance the development of sustainable irrigation in the Gulf Water Resource Plan Area, including the Flinders River Agricultural Precinct.
“This decision strikes the right balance between economic development and responsible management of our water resources,” Mr Cripps said.
Mr Cripps said the volumes of water being released met the requirements of the Gulf Water Resource Plan and could support the irrigation of up to 10,000 hectares of land.
“Water licences granted through this process will include conditions to protect existing rights to water and the region’s environmental, cultural, tourism and fisheries values,” he said.
Individual proponents will be able to access no more than 40 per cent of the volume being released from a single catchment, so that multiple users can gain access.
“Irrigated agriculture on the Flinders and the Gilbert has been talked about for a long time but the Newman Government has taken steps to make it a reality.”
The Water Resource (Gulf) Plan 2007 includes 80,000 megalitres of unallocated water held in general reserve in the Flinders River Catchment, and 15,000 megalitres held in general reserve in the Gilbert River Catchment.
Mr Cripps said the department would grant water licences based on certain criteria and would set a reserve price which ensured State-owned natural resource assets such as water were sold to private interests for a fair price.
Melbourne Water has reported that Melbourne’s water storages have had a prosperous June, banking 90 billion litres of water and topping 70% capacity for the first time since January 1998.
The National Water Commission has released a report on its work on the development and application of a nationally consistent method for measuring and reporting water stress in Australian catchments.
The South Australian Minister for Water and the River Murray Paul Caica has stated that South Australia is still suffering the consequences of decades of upstream over-allocation from the River Murray, exacerbated by the recent severe drought.
The Federal Government has announced it will provide up to $1.2 million to fund exploration of new proposals to improve irrigation efficiency in South Australia.
The Australian chapter of the International Association of Hydrogeologists has named Mount Gambier’s iconic Blue Lake has been named as one of Australia’s seven hydrogeological wonders.
The New South Wales Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has approved an application for a one off discharge of waste water produced by the Metgasco coal seam gas operations into the Casino Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) facility.
The South Australian Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources has announced it will commence conducting rural water meter inspections and audits in the Padthaway, Keith, Willalooka, Bordertown and Mundulla areas over the coming three weeks.