Monday, 13 August 2007

Now the Australian Parliament has a second "lying rodent"

It seems that the Dept of the Environment and Water Resources just can't help uttering deceitful words in an effort to do the bidding of Malcolm Turnbull and his prime ministerial master.

Despite Northern Rivers communities making their opposition known with good reasons and despite both the NSW and Qld governments firmly rejecting the SMEC water diversion proposals, Messrs. Howard and Turnbull arrogantly push ahead with their plan to raid north east NSW water to benefit bulk water users such as major irrigators and international mining companies.

All this just so the Howard Government can put off the day when it has to genuinely face the fact of climate change and a drying southern half of Australia and, act in the national interest instead of the interests of its political supporters.

The following letter was recently sent to me:

Ms Joyce Sarahs
PO Box [edited]
TYALGUM  NSW  2484     

Dear Ms Sarahs

Thank you for your letter of 20 May 2007 to the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, the Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP, concerning the SMEC Report on possible dam sites in northern NSW.  Mr Turnbull has asked me to respond on his behalf.  I apologise for the delay in my response.

The proposal to construct a dam on the Oxley River was considered as part of a recent study initiated by the National Water Commission to evaluate possible approaches to meeting future water demands of southeast Queensland and northeast New South Wales, including moving water from rivers in northern New South Wales.  The population of this part of Australia is growing rapidly and it is important that governments consider all the available options for ensuring a secure and safe water supply. 

The "desk top" review undertaken for the National Water Commission  was required to identify options for sourcing water whilst remaining within the sustainable yield of catchments and without detrimentally affecting the current and future users in New South Wales.  The review recommended five options for further investigation.  Four of the five options are based on storage and transfer from the Clarence River whilst the fifth (and cheapest) is based on storage and transfer from the Tweed River catchment.

The study report recognised that the preferred options could be expected to have significant potential environmental impact and emphasised that all options proposed required further detailed environmental and social assessment in line with New South Wales Government laws, regulations and policies. 

The National Water Commission is currently developing terms of reference for the next phase of work which it is proposed be undertaken in conjunction with the New South Wales Government, the Queensland Government and the Northern Rivers Regional Organisation of Councils.  This work would consider whether other options may exist that were not considered in the SMEC Report, undertake more detailed assessments of dam sites and pipeline routes, undertake more detailed environmental, social and cost benefit assessment of options and complete water planning of relevant catchments to determine sustainable yields.

This phase would also develop and implement a community consultation and communication process to provide information on proposed options and enable the community to contribute to the debate.

The Australian Government is also exploring other options for addressing the likely increased demand for water in the south east region of Queensland.  For example, in April 2007 the Australian Government announced a contribution of $408 million to the $1.7 billion Western Corridor Recycled Water Project in south east Queensland.  This project involves the construction of pipelines to enable the transfer of purified recycled water from advanced wastewater treatment plants in Brisbane and Ipswich to end users.  When completed, the project will have the potential to produce over 250 megalitres a day of potable water supply with purified recycled water for drinking water supply, industrial and possibly agricultural purposes. 

Your views have been noted by the Minister on the environmental impacts associated with the Oxley River option.  Thank you for your letter. 

Yours sincerely

Simon Smalley
Assistant Secretary
Water Services Branch

12 July 2007

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