Showing posts with label water. Show all posts
Showing posts with label water. Show all posts

Thursday, 9 November 2017

ICAC investigating water theft and allegations of NSW government corruption involving party donors


Eventually full details of this investigation will become public, as it cannot seriously be thought to be in the public interest for the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) not to publish findings.

The Australian, 27 October 2017:

ICAC has begun a preliminary ­investigation into whether NSW public officials favoured Nationals donor and irrigator Peter ­Harris by not prosecuting him over ­alleged water theft.

The Independent Commission Against Corruption is also investigating whether public officials made decisions in favour of western NSW irrigator and lobbyist Ian Cole by changing water sharing arrangements to benefit him.

A day after The Australian ­revealed that the corruption watchdog was investigating a case where Multicultural Affairs Minister Ray Williams wrote to ­Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair asking for prosecutorial ­action against constituent Garry Bugeja to be dropped, it has emerged that the NSW government is facing a ­series of inquiries over its water policies.

The Berejiklian government is facing the real spectre of a public ICAC inquiry potentially involving the two ministers and at least one former primary industries minister, Katrina Hodgkinson, just months out from the 2019 state election.

ICAC is investigating whether former deputy director-general of the Department of Primary ­Industry Gavin Hanlon disclosed confidential information to ­Barwon-Darling irrigators, allegations that have been the subject of a government inquiry and led to Mr Hanlon’s resignation.

The commission is also understood to be looking at whether any public official failed to properly investigate or prosecute Mr Harris, a cotton farmer from Moree, in northern NSW. ICAC is also understood to be investigating why the department’s strategic investigations unit was disbanded, leading to the abandonment of several water compliance operations.
There is also an investigation into whether any public official acted inappropriately in making changes to the Barwon-Darling Water Sharing Plan to benefit ­irrigator Mr Cole.

Another line of investigation is understood to be whether any person improperly gave access to departmental files and confidential material for the benefit of Mr Harris. Investigations into Mr Cole are understood to also involve whether pumps were attached to a property and were authorised by the department in breach of water laws…..

It was revealed earlier this year that Mr Blair sought law changes which may have benefited Mr Harris by retrospectively approving water-trading rights granted to him that appeared to not comply with the law. But Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton blocked the changes.

Mr Blair also legislated to allow past illegal works to be retrospectively approved — another piece of law which may have helped Mr Harris….

Mr Bugeja was not prosecuted for an alleged ­illegal dam in Sydney after Mr Williams wrote to Mr Blair

Friday, 27 October 2017

Are the NSW Berejiklian Government & local Nationals preparing to trash the Clarence River Estuary?


If there’s one thing the NSW Nationals can be relied on to do it is to run with any short-sighted idea which involves the threat of environmental degradation and risk to regional water catchments.

Here we have them joining the Liberals in touting what appears to be a deal done in Sydney (with no genuine local community consultation) to bring international cruise ships into the environmentally sensitive Clarence River estuary – an act which would require a significant degree of initial and ongoing dredging to maintain access, with perhaps the partial dismantling of one of the internal training walls which were built to direct flood water flows.
Even cruise operators with smaller vessels will demand a guarantee of risk free access and some form of terminal – demands which would see existing local tourism along with commercial and recreational fishing disrupted and perhaps diminished.
It seems that Nationals MP for Clarence Chris Gulaptis has all but forgotten that just last year he was not in favour of the last attempt to co-opt the Lower Clarence River for the personal gain of outside financial interests.
Perhaps he needs reminding that ships that meet his specifications such as this one pictured below would still require estuary modification and shoreline development which is also unlikely to tick any of the social or environmental boxes he once thought important.
As the average small cruise ship would exceed length overall LOA 30 metres they would all require compulsory pilotage to and from the river entrance to their berth.

Local residents are aware that Mr. Gulaptis has been lobbying Clarence Valley Council on the matter of cruise ships having access to and use of the river estuary. Perhaps he might like to inform us all exactly on whose behalf he has been doing this lobbying? And declare if he is receiving some form of consideration or financial benefit from such lobbying?
The Daily Examiner, 25 October 2017:

THE FIRST cruise ship that could test the Port of Yamba's passenger facilities could arrive before the end of the year, says Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis.

"I've heard there could be a cruise ship coming this year,” Mr Gulaptis said.

But he was unsure of the any details of the size or type of vessel that could be coming.

Mr Gulaptis was with the NSW Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight, Melinda Pavey, and Minister for Transport and Infrastructure, Andrew Constance, yesterday when they announced Yamba and Coffs Harbour were being considered as potential international cruise ship terminals for the NSW Mid North Coast.

Mrs Pavey announced the start of investigations as part of the launch of the government's Future Transport 2056 strategy.

"This is a major step, with the need for a facility being recognised in the 10 to 20-year horizon, so early investigations can begin now,” Mrs Pavey said.

The new facility has the potential to link in with North Coast tourist hotspots and part of the process will look at how to integrate the proposed port with the wider area.

"The cruise industry is booming and is set to get bigger in coming years.

"A cruise terminal would give the region a share of that industry,” Mr Constance said.

Despite the minister's optimism, Mr Gulaptis said there were lot of obstacles to overcome.

"Just where passengers would embark and disembark is not known,” he said.

"Goodwood Island could handle the size of the vessels, but its facilities have been used for live cattle exports and it's well away from Yamba.

"The only other place I can think of is at the marina on the other side of the wall, where the fishing boats moor.”

He said any use of the river would need approval of its owners, the Yaegl People, and the ships could not impact the Dirrangun reef, which was sacred to them.

He said the vessels would be much smaller than the big cruise liners.

"I think the maximum draught at Yamba is about five metres, so that should limit the size of the vessels to no bigger than 5000 tonnes,” he said.

The prospect of cruising liners coming to Yamba alarmed environmentalists such as Iluka's Ian Gaillard, who was a vocal opponent of a proposal that emerged last year to build a megaport in the Clarence Estuary.

He said people may think cruise liners coming to Yamba could represent progress, but in reality, it would be a retrograde step.

"Cruise ships bring with them some of the worst excesses of modern life,” he said.

”The danger for the local populace is that once these things are established, they change the amenity of the place forever.”

NSW Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight Melinda Pavey is obviously confident that she and her cronies will be able to expand Port of Yamba by stealth.

Perhaps someone should remind her that Northern Rivers communities tend to jealously guard the existing aesthetic, environmental, cultural, social and economic values of their waterways and lands.

Like Chris Gulaptis, last year Cr. Jim Simmons was mindful of the environmental and cultural issues associated with dredging the entrance to the river and estuary.

Look at him now..... 

Clarence Valley’s new mayor Jim Simmons was quick to jump on board the idea to support Yamba and Grafton's tourist credentials. “Oh yeh, we’d give it  a go at Grafton.  We’ve got the best beaches up here and I think Coffs Harbour has had its fair share of things and it’s time other places got a go,” he says.

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Surge in water consumption prompts call from Clarence Valley Council for people to be careful with their water use


Clarence Valley Council, media release, 27 September 2017:

Clarence residents urged to be water wise

A surge in water consumption has prompted a call from the Clarence Valley Council for people to be careful with their water use.

The council’s general manager, Ashley Lindsay, said figures for the same date for each of the past four years showed how much water people were using this Spring.

“On September 25, 2014, we consumed 12 megalitres,“ he said.

“On September 25, 2015 we used 14 megalitres, on that date in 2016 we used 15 megalitres, but on September 25 this year – Monday – we used 25 megalitres.

“That is more than double the consumption we had in 2014.

“All we are asking is for people to be mindful of their consumption. Our field staff has noticed a lot of residential properties where sprinklers are being used during the day, contrary to the permanent level one water conservation measures we have in place.

“We’ve printed a notice that is being dropped into letterboxes of the residences involved.”

Level one water restrictions are:

# Residential gardens - Fixed hoses and sprinklers are BANNED between 9am and 4pm. No
restriction on hand-held hoses or water efficient micro sprinklers.

# Car washing - No restriction. Do not leave hose running, consider using a trigger nozzle
.
# Washing of driveways and paved areas - No restriction. Sweeping and other dry methods are
encouraged. If a hose is required, please use a pressure cleaner.

# Swimming pools - No restriction. Consider a cover to reduce evaporation and minimal topping
up.

# All sports grounds (including public parks and gardens, school grounds), commercial
operations, industry, nurseries, orchards etc. - No restriction. Reduce evaporation by avoiding
watering in the heat or middle of the day and on windy days.

# All other essential water use associated with commercial and industry operations - No
restriction. Businesses should follow water-efficient practices and minimise water use, respecting
the restrictions that apply to the general community, as outlined above.

Copy of a card being dropped into the letterboxes of residents who have been using sprinklers outside of the recommended times.

Friday, 29 September 2017

WA company with Chinese & UK backing announces a desire to mine near, extract water from and potentially pollute Clarence River catchment waters



The Daily Examiner, 29 September 2017, p.1:

JUST 35km north-west of Grafton is a block of private land with the potential to change the face of Clarence Valley’s industry as we know it.

Mt Gilmore, which lies between Fine Flower and The Gorge, has been revealed to be home to several deposits of high-grade cobalt.

Now Western Australia-based company Corazon Mining is trying to work out just how big that deposit is, and whether it’s worth mining.

On June 16 2016, Corazon announced it had secured the right to earn up to 80% of the Mount Gilmore Cobalt-Copper-Gold Project from private company Providence Gold and Minerals Pty Ltd.

Their project tenure included one granted Exploration Licence covering an area of approximately 25km by 15km, and over the past couple of months they have been drilling to in an effort to find precious metals.

Corazon managing director Brett Smith said so far, things were looking good.

“We’ve been saying that this is one of the highest- grade cobalt deposits in Australia, we just don’t know how big it is,” he said. “There was a lot of gold and copper prospecting there back in the late 1800s, early 1900s, and so it’s amazing where it’s located how little modern exploration has gone on there.”

The reason they have their eye on cobalt, rather than gold or copper, is that the element’s value has risen exponentially in recent years due to its use in lithium-ion batteries.

Mr Smith said demand from the battery sector had tripled in the past five years and was projected to double again by 2020.

It is most commonly used in smartphones, laptops, and electric vehicles.

“Cobalt is the most expensive raw material used for building lithium-ion batteries, paying about $61,000 per tonne,” Mr Smith said.

“A lot of people have been exploring for cobalt in NSW but are looking at oxide deposits. Ours is a bit different in that it’s a sulphide deposit, and they are fairly rare to be cobalt dominant.

“It’s all in vogue at the moment so we’re pretty hopeful this can be used to produce cobalt salts for batteries.”

Mr Smith said the company was currently on its second drill program, which they hoped could be used to accurately determine the lay of the land.’

Exactly what mining exploration licence is this newspaper article talking about?

Well according to NSW Planning & Environment on 1 September 2017 it is  EL8379 granted to Mt Gilmore Resources Pty Ltd on 23 June 2015.

So who is Corazon  Mining Limited?

The company’s 2016-17 Annual Report states:

Corazon Mining Limited (ASX: CZN) (“the Company” or “Corazon”) is an Australian based company exploring and developing the Lynn Lake Nickel-Copper-Sulphide project in Canada and Mt Gilmore Cobalt-Copper-Gold project in Australia.

It has three main exploration projects -  the Lynn Lake and  Victory projects both in Manitoba Canada and the Mt Gilmore Project in NSW Australia.

This is the corporations current Board of Directors:

Clive Jones, Non-Executive Chairman - 4,235,330 fully paid ordinary shares, 5,000,000 options exercisable at $0.035 expiring 31 March 2020, total annual remuneration $154,607
Brett Smith, Executive Managing Director - 7,107,131 fully paid ordinary shares, 10,000,000 options exercisable at $0.035 expiring 31 March 2020, total annual remuneration $417,250
Adrian Byass, Non-Executive Director - 9,357,370 fully paid ordinary shares, 7,000,000 options exercisable at $0.035 expiring 31 March 2020, total annual remuneration $144,600
Jonathan Downes, Non-Executive Director - 11,154,512 fully paid Ordinary Shares, 5,000,000 options exercisable at $0.035 expiring 31 March 2020, total annual remuneration $190,557
Mark Qiu, Non-Executive Director (appointed 18 August 2017) - 1,269,300 fully paid ordinary shares, total annual remuneration unknown
Robert Orr is company secretary and Chief Financial Officer, shareholding unknown, total annual remuneration $114,360.

The last annual report indicated that the company share structure comprised 1,039,283,317 fully paid ordinary shares held by 2,135 individual shareholders and, 60,000,000 unquoted options are held by 10 individual option holders.


The largest options holders are Brett Smith with 10 million held and Zenix Nominees Pty Ltd with 20 million held.

On 1 December 2016 the Company announced the issue of 3,410,840 shares to key management personnel in lieu of cash-based salary. This strategy was implemented in order to conserve cash reserves for operational expenditure.

Corazon Mining appears to be operating at a loss and apparently paid no tax in 2016-17.

Corazon Mining Limited’s Purchase Agreement for the Mt Gilmore Cobalt-Copper-Gold joint venture project:

Under the terms of the agreement with Providence and subject to Corazon completing due diligence to its sole satisfaction on or before 30 June 2016, Corazon has the exclusive right to earn up to an 80% interest in the Project as follows:

Corazon can earn an initial 51% interest by:
* Issuing Providence 25 million Corazon Mining Limited shares
* Paying cash reimbursements of costs totalling $100,000
* Spending $200,000 on exploration within the first 12 months from the date of satisfaction of all conditions precedent (“Commencement Date).

Corazon can earn a further 29% interest (totalling 80%) by:
* Completing $2M  in exploration within 3 years of the Commencement Date
* Paying $150,000 in cash or shares upon the earlier of the commencement of the third year and Corazon spending a minimum of $500,000 on exploration
* Paying $250,000 in cash or shares upon earning 80% equity in the Project.

Corazon has the opportunity to extend this earn-in period by one year by paying $50,000 in cash or shares.

According to Corazon Mining;

The Project is located only 35km from the major centre of Grafton in north-eastern New South Wales. Project tenure includes one granted Exploration Licence (EL8379 – one year old), covering an area of approximately 25km by 15km……

On 22 August 2017 the Company issued 139,856,665 fully paid ordinary shares at an issue price of $0.014. The share issue was comprised of:
- an issue of 120,000,000 shares to Hanking Australia Investments Pty Ltd under a Subscription Agreement for a $1,680,000 investment in the Company;
- an issue of 7,356,665 to sophisticated investors to raise $102,993; and
- an issue of 12,500,000 shares to Providence Gold and Minerals Pty Ltd pursuant to the Company’s Earn-in Agreement with Providence in respect of the Mt Gilmore Project. Under this Agreement, Corazon has the exclusive right to earn up to an 80% interest in the Project. The shares have a total valuation of $175,000.

On the same date, the Company also issued 85,000,000 options to Hanking Australia Investments Pty Ltd following their investment in the Company. The options were issued with an exercise price of $0.03 and an expiry of 22 August 2019.

On 18 August 2017, Dr Mark Qiu of Hanking Australia Investments Pty Ltd was appointed to the Company’s Board of Directors.

China Hanking Holdings Limited, registered in the Cayman Islands and listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, is the parent company of Hanking Australia Investments Pty Ltd.

The second largest shareholder in Corazon Mining Limited is Crescent Nominees Limited, a private equity firm registered in Northern Ireland since 2014 and owned by venture capitalist Crescent Capital NI Limited.

As part of NSW Minerals Week Corazon Mining Limited had a booth at the 14th Sydney Resources Round-Up in May 2017 where interested geologists could view their sulphide core from the 2016 Cobalt Ridge drilling program. 

Area in which the proposed cobalt mine would be situated

Satellite image of Mount Gilmore (height 372m) situated just above the Clarence River system at The Gorge

It doesn’t take a genius to look at this image and see the potential for heavy rain episodes over Mt. Gilmore leading to surface water runoff into Clarence River tributaries.

So the first question is; what happens if Corozon Mining was granted a mining licence by the NSW Berejiklian Coalition Government and one or more of its heavy metal contaminated holding ponds were breached during such a rain period? The potential exists for any such breaches to result in long-term contamination of surrounding soils and water courses, as well as higher sediment levels in surface waters.

Heavy metal and metalloid concentrations within stream-estuary sediments already occur naturally in NSW north-eastern coastal rivers and current Clarence River levels are also the result of historic mining in the upper catchment below the Dorrigo Plateau region.

This leads to a second question. Can a river system, which supplies drinking water to est.126,008 residents (Census 2016) along with water to farmers, graziers and commercial fishers in the Clarence Valley and Coffs Harbour City local government areas, safely tolerate higher heavy metal and metalloid concentrations in that water? Communities relying on the Clarence river system might not be happy with the thought of any increase in localised or overall toxicity.

Given that mining is a thirsty business and water used in its extractive processes has to come from nearby surface/groundwater sources, there is a third question which immediately springs to mind. In the face of increasing impacts from climate change can we afford to have the environmental water flow in the Clarence River system compromised further?

Then there is the question of required associated infrastructure, including transport of ore via trucks and rail – need I say more?

One has to wonder when Clarence Valley Council was going to mention this proposed mining activity to residents and ratepayers because it is highly likely that this mining company or someone acting on its behalf has approached either the Mayor or council administration.

Friday, 11 August 2017

Water rorting continues in the Murray-Darling Basin aided and abetted by the NSW Nationals


And local government and commercial interests in the Murray-Darling Basin have the hide to cry that they are water deprived and should be allowed to dam and divert water from the Clarence River catchment until that coastal system is a pale shadow of its vibrant self.

The Guardian, 4 August 2017:

The New South Wales regional water minister, Niall Blair, has quietly granted himself the power to approve illegal floodplain works retrospectively.

A Wentworth Group scientist, Jamie Pittock, has accused the NSW government of actively undermining the Murray-Darling basin plan as revelations have continued about the state government’s management of the river system.

Since Four Corners report raised allegations of water theft and secret meetings between a senior NSW water bureaucrat and a small number of irrigators,Blair is under increasing pressure over his water responsibilities.

This followed Daily Telegraph reports that the Nationals MP had been urging his Liberal colleague, the environment minister, Gabrielle Upton, to change the Barwon-Darling water-sharing plan retrospectively to favour large irrigators. He said the change was needed because of an error in the rules.

It has now come to light that Blair gazetted a Barwon-Darling valley floodplain management plan which gives him power to approve flood works built illegally even if they do not comply with requirements prior to the plan.

Under clause 39 of the new Barwon-Darling valley plan, a flood work that does not comply can be approved if “in the minister’s opinion” it is for an access road, a supply channel, a stock refuge or an infrastructure protection work
.
A spokesman for WaterNSW said three relevant applications from the Barwon-Darling region had been received since the change but none had yet been approved.

The NSW Greens MLC Jeremy Buckingham called on the NSW premier, Gladys Berejiklian, to remove the water portfolio from the National party after the regulation changes came to light.

“This is disgraceful example of the National party giving away free water to their big irrigator mates,” Buckingham said. “Many of these areas are so flat that even a 10 to 20cm bank can divert a huge amount of water into an irrigation dam and away from natural waterways.

“It’s a massive gift of water to the big irrigators. If we want to recover the water in the future then taxpayer will have to hand over huge amounts of compensation for what were illegal constructions.”

A spokeswoman for Blair said the gazettal was a “significant legacy issue” required to create a process where unapproved works could be properly and transparently assessed. She said to be considered, works must not have been previously refused and would still need to be assessed under certain criteria.

“Supply channels are one of the types of existing works that clause 39 indicates that we will accept application for,” the spokeswoman said. “Just because they are existing, doesn’t mean that they will be approved, just that they can apply. This approach is being rolled out through all floodplain management plans.”

Pittock, an associate professor in the Fenner school of environment and society at the Australian National University, said the revelations showed NSW was systematically white-anting the Murray Darling plan.

“The ‘rule error’ and other questionable dealings between wealthy irrigators, government officials and politicians in NSW highlight how the intent of the basin plan can be frustrated by those hostile to its implementation at the state level,” he told Guardian Australia.

“Changes of regulations in NSW have allowed irrigators to take erstwhile environmental flows by allowing greater pump capacity and earlier extraction based on river heights such that commonwealth-purchased environmental water in Queensland in not ‘shepherded’ through New South Wales to the lower Murray.

“Consequently towns like Broken Hill, pastoralists and Aboriginal communities, as well as the environment, have been starved of water.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Still feel unhappy with the Turnbull Government's policies on underground, land surface and marine waters? So you should


“Dead zones are hypoxic (low-oxygen) areas in the world's oceans and large lakes, caused by "excessive nutrient pollution from human activities coupled with other factors that deplete the oxygen required to support most marine life in bottom and near-bottom water.” [US National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration]

Every Northern Hemisphere Spring this dead zone occurs in the Gulf of Mexico and increases in size over time.



It is only one of more than 400 hypoxic areas world-wide which were mapped in 2008.


Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS), Andrew H. Altieri et al, 2017, Tropical dead zones and mass mortalities on coral reefs:

Oxygen-starved coastal waters are rapidly increasing in prevalence worldwide. However, little is known about the impacts of these “dead zones” in tropical ecosystems or their potential threat to coral reefs. We document the deleterious effects of such an anoxic event on coral habitat and biodiversity, and show that the risk of dead-zone events to reefs worldwide likely has been seriously underestimated. Awareness of, and research on, reef hypoxia is needed to address the threat posed by dead zones to coral reefs.

Degradation of coastal water quality in the form of low dissolved oxygen levels (hypoxia) can harm biodiversity, ecosystem function, and human wellbeing. Extreme hypoxic conditions along the coast, leading to what are often referred to as “dead zones,” are known primarily from temperate regions. However, little is known about the potential threat of hypoxia in the tropics, even though the known risk factors, including eutrophication and elevated temperatures, are common. Here we document an unprecedented hypoxic event on the Caribbean coast of Panama and assess the risk of dead zones to coral reefs worldwide. The event caused coral bleaching and massive mortality of corals and other reef-associated organisms, but observed shifts in community structure combined with laboratory experiments revealed that not all coral species are equally sensitive to hypoxia. Analyses of global databases showed that coral reefs are associated with more than half of the known tropical dead zones worldwide, with >10% of all coral reefs at elevated risk for hypoxia based on local and global risk factors. Hypoxic events in the tropics and associated mortality events have likely been underreported, perhaps by an order of magnitude, because of the lack of local scientific capacity for their detection. Monitoring and management plans for coral reef resilience should incorporate the growing threat of coastal hypoxia and include support for increased detection and research capacity.

Anyone still in favour of allowing an expansion of coal mining in the Galilee Basin, Queensland?

Anyone still comfortable with the amount of agricultural/industrial run-off into the Great Barrier Reef, marine protected areas and Australian coastal waters, which is allowed under state and federal policies?

It’s not just our rivers and aquifers which are suffering from political inaction and vested interest greed.

BACKGROUND

The Australian Government’s OzCoasts website states:

A reduction in dissolved oxygen concentrations is amongst the most important effects of eutrophication on aquatic organisms [4]. Hypoxia can cause direct mortality, reduced growth rates and altered behaviour and distributions of fish [4] and other organisms. In addition, bottom-water hypoxia can interact with elevated water temperatures at the surface to produce a "temperature-oxygen squeeze" effect, which can greatly reduce the amount of summer habitat available for some species [12]. Eggs and larvae of fish (and crustaceans) may be particularly susceptible to this effect because these life history stages are less able to avoid unfavourable conditions, and because they live in near shore areas, such as estuaries, where too-high water temperatures and too-low oxygen conditions often occur [5]. Changes in fish assemblages and crustaceans in response to hypoxia and & anoxia can render these organisms more susceptible to fishing pressure, and can increase the abundance of non-targeted species in by-catch [4].

Dissolved oxygen status also influences the uptake or release of nutrients from sediment. When oxygen is depleted, the nitrification pathway is blocked, and efficiencies may be lowered. As a consequence, more nutrients (e.g. nitrogen and phosphorous) are released from the sediment in bio-available forms [7]. These nutrients help to sustain algal blooms, and therefore continue the supply organic matter to the sediments [7]. With organic matter (energy) diverted from invertebrate consumption to microbial decomposition, the natural pattern of energy flow is altered, and pelagic and opportunistic species are favoured [8]. Indeed, an increased ratio of planktivore:demersal fish biomass is an important effect of eutrophication [11]. Low bottom water oxygen concentrations are also conducive to the build-up of toxic compounds such as hydrogen sulfide and ammonia gas, which can also be harmful to benthic organisms and fish. Even short-lived anoxic events can cause the mass mortality of fish and benthic organisms [10].

Overall, anoxic and hypoxic events can cause large reductions in the abundance, diversity and harvest of fish in affected waters [4], and can contribute to an overall loss of bio-diversity[9]. However, the extent to which bottom water anoxia causes declines in overall fish production depends on a balanced between the negative and positive and effects of eutrophication in the full spectrum of habitats within the system [4]……

Major research institutions, universities and government (local and State) agencies gather oxygen data for specific research studies. Some information on anoxic and hypoxic events in Australian coastal waterways was compiled during the National Land & Water Resources Audit. In most cases, no data was available. However, localised or short-lived periods of hypoxia were reported in the Derwent and Huon estuaries (TAS) and in the Tuggerah Lakes (NSW). Prolonged and extensive anoxia is experienced in the Gippsland Lakes.

Note:

Anoxia is an extreme form of hypoxia.

Monday, 20 March 2017

Climate change, farming, food & families in Australia


“The price, quality and seasonality of Australia’s food is increasingly being affected by climate change with Australia’s future food security under threat….

Australia’s food supply chain is highly exposed to disruption from increasing extreme weather events driven by climate change, with farmers already struggling to cope with more frequent and intense droughts and changing weather patterns.” [Climate Council, October 2015]

It used to be said of Australian families that generally they were only one generation away from the farm and it used to be noted that in the suburbs spreading out from major metropolitan areas in the 1950s and 60s these families lived in relatively small houses on quarter acre lots.

Families then were still close enough to the means of food production to understand the importance of both climate and weather and often supplemented the family diet with chooks in the backyard, along with a couple of fruit trees and a vegie patch. In outer metropolitan and regional areas there was often a rain water tank attached to the house long after town water became available.

Go look in your back yard now. What do you see?

Then have a think about this…….


Australia is one of only a handful of countries that produces more food than it consumes and most Australians have access to an abundant and safe food supply. But Australia is also considered one of the most vulnerable developed countries in the world to impacts of the changing climate. Rising temperatures, increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, and declining water availability in some of our most important agricultural regions pose significant risks for the nature, distribution, quality, and affordability of our food supply. At the same time, the Australian and global population continues to grow, competition for arable land continues to intensify, and our natural resource base continues to degrade, placing ever-increasing demands on food production systems.

Up to 70% of Australia’s wine-growing regions with a Mediterranean climate (including iconic areas like the Barossa Valley and Margaret River) will be less suitable for grape growing by 2050. Higher temperatures will continue to cause earlier ripening and reduced grape quality, as well as encourage expansion to new areas, including some regions of Tasmania.

Many foods produced by plants growing at elevated CO2 have reduced protein and mineral concentrations, reducing their nutritional value…..

Australia is projected to be one of the most adversely affected regions from future changes in climate in terms of reductions in agricultural production and exports.

Climate impacts on agricultural production in other countries will affect our competitiveness, especially if warmer and wetter conditions elsewhere boost production of key products such as beef and lamb.

This report noted:

Ø    Harsher climate conditions will increase use of more heat-tolerant breeds in beef production, some of which have lower meat quality and reproductive rates.

Ø    Heat stress reduces milk yield by 10-25% and up to 40% in extreme heatwave conditions.

Ø    The yields of many important crop species such as wheat, rice and maize are reduced at temperatures more than 30°C.

Ø   Climate change is increasing the variability of crop yields.

Ø    Food prices during the 2005- 2007 drought increased at twice the rate of the Consumer Price Index (CPI) with fresh fruit and vegetables the worst hit, increasing 43% and 33% respectively.

Ø   Cyclone Larry destroyed 90% of the North Queensland banana crop in 2006, affecting supply for nine months and increasing prices by 500%.

Ø   The 2009 heatwave in Victoria decimated fruit crops, with significant production losses of berry and other fruit crops.

Ø   There is typically less than 30 days supply of non-perishable food and less than five days supply of perishable food in the supply chain at any one time. Households generally hold only about a 3-5 day supply of food. Such low reserves are vulnerable to natural disasters and disruption to transport from extreme weather.

Ø    During the 2011 Queensland floods, several towns such as Rockhampton were cut off for up to two weeks, preventing food resupply. Brisbane came within a day of running out of bread.

Perhaps it’s time to pick up the phone and call your local state and federal members of parliament to ask them what they and their political party are actually doing - by way of implemented policies and/or legislation - to protect your family’s food and water security now that climate change is a fact of life.

* The Climate Council is an independent non-profit organisation funded by donations by the public. 

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Iluka Development Application No. SUB2015/0034: "The Bob Jelly Gazette" decides it always knew it would happen


In March 2016 the Ratepayers Association of Iluka Inc. published its regular newsletter in which its president, real estate agent Graeme Lynn, stated the following:
Eight months later and the story has changed – now we’re told there was always going to be a major revision of the development application:

As  for those ordinary people who “suddenly became town planners and without any knowledge were telling everyone the design was poor and needed redoing”.

Well it appears that the “experts” are not as disdainful as Bob Jelly & Co, because this turned up in one of the documents being submitted to the Northern Joint Regional Planning Panel on behalf of the developer:
So   congratulations to all those locals at Iluka who took the photographs, did the geo-plotting and otherwise supplied information for the Thursday, 16 June 2016 blog post

Friday, 21 October 2016

Clarence Valley councillors at work post 2016 local government election - everything old is back again


Clarence Valley Council considered Item 14.094/16 DA2016/0281 on 18 October 2016 – A Rotational Outdoor Free Range Piggery upon Lot 51 DP751382, 550 Tullymorgan Road, Lawrence .

The 161ha property at 550 Tullymorgan Road, circa April 2016:

[Images of the property which is currently listed for sale at realestate.com.au and was listed in The Daily Examiner in April 2016]

This current application by the Sisson Family Trust is for a 75 sow piggery producing up to 1,500 piglets each year.  A Council staff member is the landowner and presumably a potential beneficiary of the trust.

Bravo to Cr. Greg Clancy for pointing out during the debate the manifest deficiencies in both the applicant & council’s approach to this development application to date.

The site inspection for the purposes of environmental assessment completed on 23 July 2016 only lasting approx. 2 hours which were spent inspecting areas of the site by vehicle and allegedly on foot, including areas proposed for pig paddocks, areas within the 100m buffer to natural waterbodies and bushland in the northern part of the site where pig grazing is not proposed.

Cr. Peter Ellem agreed more rigour should be exercised in the area of environmental/
threatened species assessments. Cr. Andrew Baker urged further expert opinion on EP& A provisions pertaining to the development. 

The Grafton putsch left over from the last council term was gung-ho for approval forthwith and for cutting “red tape”.  In the process putsch member Cr. Lysault demonstrated his ignorance of animal husbandry and farming practices.

Disappointingly this development application received what some would still consider premature consent - with Mayor Jim Simmons, Deputy Mayor Jason Kingsley, Cr. Arthur Lysault, Cr. Richie Williamson  and, first-time councillor Debrah Novak, voting in favour of an application which by council's own admission contained not one contemporary, detailed on the ground flora & fauna field study.

Then there is the matter of the vote in the Chamber.

When the previous council considered this development application at the ordinary meeting of 9 August 2016 there were two declarations of interest by councillors:
By the 18 October ordinary meeting those declarations of interest had shrunk to none registered by Cr. Simmons and apparently downgraded to a Non-Significant Non Pecuniary interest on the part of Cr. Kingsley, allowing both to remain in the Chamber for consideration of and vote in relation to a larger piggery being established on land owned by a member of Clarence Valley Council staff.

In fact the participation of the Mayor and Deputy Mayor in this 5 to 3 vote allowed consent to be granted without further ado:



One would have thought that given the landowner is employed by council and both Crs. Simmons and Kingsley had previously declared an interest a mere ten weeks ago, as newly appointed mayor and deputy mayor they would have exercised an abundance of caution and again excused themselves from considering this item to avoid even a perception of potential bias in favour of the landowner.

Old habits are not necessarily good habits and I hope this newly-elected council will approach the matter of pecuniary and non-pecuniary interests with more diligence over the next four years.