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

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.


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.


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 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.

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

The trouble with blueberries....

An Coffs Harbour man and a Canadian multimillionaire decide to farm water-hungry blueberries in the Clarence Valley.

The Daily Examiner, 3 October 2016, p.12:


Media reports in August of a proposed 850 hectare blueberry development at Bawdens Bridge raise serious issues that add to growing community concerns about the industry.

The application to Water NSW to extract 66ML of water annually from the Orara River indicated the proposed orchard size would be just 30 hectares.

In a meeting with concerned neighbours, the proponent scoffed at rumours they intended to plant as much as 100ha, explaining there just wasn't enough available water.

That comment is supported by the Department of Primary Industry's Primefacts which states: "Water storage facilities of 2-3 megalitres per hectare are required for blueberry production".

Currently there is only 90ML available to the proponent as a harvestable right (collected run-off in dams), plus the 66ML from the river if the licence is approved. So where will the remaining 2000ML come from, and how will it be stored?

Council's director environment, planning and community, Des Schroder, was quoted in the media, describing the partnership between a Coffs Harbour grower and Vancouver businessman Luigi Aquilini, as providing "a multi- national presence in the region", and seemingly in awe of Mr Aquilini describing him as, "a Rupert Murdoch figure in Canadian business circles".

However, as the former manager of the NSW Department of Land and Water Conservation, Mr Schroder should be well aware that, in a drought year, there would be insufficient water in the Orara River to pump at all, much less irrigate 850ha of blueberries.

Proponents engaged in intensive horticulture can legally clear native vegetation, even supposedly protected vegetation, to build massive harvestable rights dams, and can transform the rural landscape into an industrial complex, covered end to end by netting or plastic, without applying for approval, or any need to consult honestly with neighbours.

So the industry needs to do much more to change that perception, and open and transparent consultation would be a good way to start.

John Edwards
Clarence Valley Conservation Coalition


The Land, 19 August 2016:

THE sale of Grafton’s old abattoir to Golden Eagle Berries and its planned conversion to packing and cold store signals a new direction for the Clarence Valley with the business saying it will require 1200 picking jobs by 2018 – as much as the abattoir ever used to employ.

Clarence land previously deemed too poor for agriculture remains very attractive to the industry as blueberry shrubs prefer an acid soil, well draining.

Last year Mr Dosanjh formed a partnership with Vancouver businessman Luigi Aquilini and together they are growing blueberries on 120ha at Clarenza and will develop another 850ha at Waterview Heights.

Mr Dosanjh is both excited and a little frightened of a bright berry future in the valley. There is potential for employment and career paths but high prices are overdue for correction. The new reality will require smart farming.

“Unless we can export blueberries the industry may go the way of bananas,” says Mr Dosanjh.

Fruit fly protocall for markets like Japan remains the greatest obstacle but cold storage at low temperatures will kill fruit fly larvae.

NSW Government Gazette No 21 of 24 March 2016:

An application under section 10 of the Water Act 1912 for a 150 Megalitre dam & 150mm pump on UNNAMED WATERCOURSE has been received from HARJAP SINGH DOSANJH for irrigation and farming purposes (150 megalitres) on Lot 137 DP 751362 Parish Clarenza County Clarence. (30SL067326)
An application under section 10 of the Water Act 1912 for a 150mm pump on ORARA RIVER has been received from DOSANJH INVESTMENTS PTY LTD for irrigation and farming purposes (66 megalitres) on Lot 262 DP 751383 Parish Rushforth County Clarence. (30SL067327)
Objections to the granting of this licence must be registered in writing to Locked Bag 10, Grafton NSW 2460 within 28 days of this notice. The objection must include your name and address and specify the grounds of objection. Any queries please call (02) 6641 6500.
PETER HACKETT Water Regulation Officer. Department of Primary Industries (DPI) Water

There is no gazetted Water Sharing Plan for the Clarence River, with only a Draft Report Card for the Lower Orara River available on the DPI web site, which is now rendered obsolete by the permanent closure of the Nymboida Power Station.

We also learned that the proponent had already begun work on a very large dam on a local creek line known as “Chain of Ponds”, removing some 300m of gully vegetation. Enquiries to Council revealed that, despite the Local Environment Plan clearly indicating the water storages cannot be built on land of that zoning, the proponent can in fact construct a dam big enough to store the property's harvestable rights, without any approval. Those rights, for the 1000 hectare plus property, amount to some 90 megalitres annually.

Because blueberries are highly chemical dependent, there are other matters of concern, particularly the potential for pollution of the Orara River, which runs along the property's boundary. Pollution could impact on threatened species like the endangered Eastern Freshwater Cod, and the unique riparian vegetation community. Dominated by a mix of Black Bean (Castanospermum australe), Silky Oak (Grevillea Robusta) and Satinash (Syzygium floribundum), that community, to the best of our knowledge, only occurs along the lower reaches of the Orara and nowhere else in the world.

Vancouver Sun, 9 September 2013:

a vast family empire that owns the Vancouver Canucks hockey team, development companies, investment and hotel properties, North America’s largest blueberry and cranberry farms, and a lot more. The empire is wrapped up tightly in an extraordinarily complex trust system that Francesco’s father Luigi set up years ago to protect the family assets for his wife Elisa, their three sons Francesco, Roberto and Paolo, and others.

The multinational Aquilini empire outlined here.

Friday, 9 September 2016

Interruptions to water supply in Maclean CBD on Sunday 11 September 2016

Clarence Valley Council, media release, September 7, 2016:

Interruptions to water supply in Maclean CBD

THERE will be interruptions to the water supply for some businesses in the Maclean CBD on Sunday as the Clarence Valley Council undertakes some essential line repairs.

Council’s works and civil director, Troy Anderson, said only businesses in River Street would be affected and it would only be those on the western side of the street between
MacNaughton Place and the Spar Supermarket and then on the opposite side of the street between Argyle and Union streets.

He said supply was likely to be interrupted between 8am and noon.

“There is a fault in the line that needs repair and, unfortunately, that repair cannot be done without interrupting supply,” he said.

“We’re holding off on this work until Sunday as it will reduce the impact on businesses in the area. We will contact all businesses today to advise them of the interruptions.

“There might be some water discolouration after the repairs are completed, so if that happens consumers might like to run their taps for a while until the water clears.

“We apologise for any inconvenience this might cause.”

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Northern Rivers councils reject Baird Government's new land clearing legislation

It sometimes seems that every time we turn around in the Northern Rivers there is some politician or commercial interest wanting to diminish or destroy the land we live on and our enviable way of life.

This time it is a state government that has lost sight of what really matters……….

Echo NetDaily, 17 August 2016:

Northern Rivers Regional Organisation of Councils (NOROC), the peak body for the region’s local government organisations, has made a damning appraisal of the Baird government’s proposed new biodiversity and land-clearing laws.

The body has warned in its submission to the government review of land-clearing and threatened species laws the reforms would be bad for biodiversity and sustainability, and add administrative burdens and costs for local councils.

Key concerns raised in the NOROC submission

*The proposed legislation will lead to poorer biodiversity and sustainability outcomes on the far north coast as well as adding significant complexity, administrative burdens and costs for local government.
*The reforms will ‘interfere with the legitimate strategic planning functions of councils including their ability to implement development control policies that properly reflect the desires of their local communities.’
*The new regime will ‘lead to a very uneven distribution of biodiversity loss across the landscape.’
*The proposed reforms ‘represent a significant cost shift to local government. This is acknowledged in the Independent Biodiversity Legislation Review Panel report but not in any of the legislation reform public exhibition materials.’

Nature Conservation Council CEO Kate Smolski said, ‘Nobody supports Mike Baird’s deeply flawed package – not the scientists, not the conservationists, and not NOROC, who have a clear understanding that these laws threaten soils and water supplies and wildlife in the Northern Rivers region.

She called on the Premier to ‘scrap this flawed package of laws and either fund Local Land Services to make the Native Vegetation Act works as it was intended, or go back to the drawing board and come up with another way to provide workable, strong protections for nature in NSW.’….

Saturday, 16 May 2015

As Australia begins to move further into drought the Bureau of Meteorology confirms an El Niño and the Abbott Government dismantles Water Commission and cuts water funding

Australian Bureau of Meteorology confirms tropical Pacific now at El Niño levels

Media Release, 12 May 2015

The Bureau of Meteorology’s latest update on the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) today confirms El Niño thresholds have been reached in the tropical Pacific for the first time since March 2010.

Assistant Director for Climate Information Services, Mr Neil Plummer, said El Niño is often associated with below average rainfall across eastern Australia in the second half of the year, and warmer than average daytime temperatures over the southern half of the country.
“The onset of El Niño in Australia in 2015 is a little earlier than usual. Typically El Niño events commence between June and November,” Mr Plummer said.
“Prolonged El Niño-like conditions have meant that some areas are more vulnerable to the impact of warmer temperatures and drier conditions.
“The failed northern wet season in 2012–13, compounded by poor wet seasons in 2013-14 and 2014-15, have contributed to drought in parts of inland Queensland and northern New South Wales,” he said.
Mr Plummer noted that while the El Niño is forecast to strengthen during winter, the strength of an
El Niño does not necessarily correspond with its impact on Australian rainfall. Australia experienced widespread drought during a weak El Niño in 2006–07, while stronger events such as the El Niño event in 1997–98 had only a modest impact on Australian rainfall.
“Recent significant rainfall and flooding along the east coast of Australia, associated with two almost back-to-back East Coast Lows, did not penetrate far into inland regions and therefore have done little to alleviate conditions in drought affected areas,” Mr Plummer said.
While El Niño increases the risk of drought, it does not guarantee it; of the 26 El Niño events since 1900, 17 have resulted in widespread drought.
Despite El Niño increasing the likelihood of drier conditions later this year, the Bureau’s May to July Climate Outlook (see link below) indicates much of Australia is likely to be wetter than average.
This is being driven by warmer than average Indian Ocean sea surface temperatures, which are dominating this outlook.
Further information:
* The Bureau’s ENSO Wrap-Up is published at
* A video entitled Understanding ENSO can be viewed on YouTube
* May to July Climate Outlook
* An El Niño explainer article is published in The Conversation

In the same month that the Bureau confirmed the existence of a Pacific El Niño and 80 per cent of Queensland was officially drought declared - with northern New South Wales inland of the Great Dividing Range and an area stretching from southeastern South Australia and western Victoria also experiencing drought - the Abbott Government began to dismantle the National Water Commission, abolished the River Murray Water Committee and cut funding to the Sustainable Rural Water Use and Infrastructure Programme by $22.7 million over the next two financial years.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Clarence Valley Council's new Water Restrictions Policy on public exhibition until 17 April 2015

Clarence Valley Council media release 30 March 2015:

Changes to water restrictions in the pipeline

A DRAFT policy that aims to cut water use during dry spells has been released by the Clarence Valley Council for public comment.

Council works and civil director, Troy Anderson, said the aim of the draft was to ensure supply never reached critically low levels and the policy complied with water legislation and licencing

“Because we share a water supply with Coffs Harbour, we are working with the Coffs Harbour City Council to make sure we have consistent policies, that restrictions on water use are similar and are
introduced at the same time,” he said.

“The main difference between the draft and the existing policy is the number
they affect just about everyone, I of levels of restriction would be reduced from seven to five and these would be given colour-coded name descriptors like the bushfire warning system rather than the current numbered restriction levels.

“Councils across the North Coast will be implementing similar measures so things are consistent across the region.

“The impact on water users will be minimal, but because encourage people to get a copy of the draft and let us know their thoughts.”

Copies of the draft are available at council offices in Grafton and Maclean or at Submissions close at 4:30pm, Friday, April 17.

Water Restrictions Draft Policy (PDF download) – seven pages only

The new colour-coded restriction levels starting with the existing permanent ban on the use of sprinklers and unattended hoses between 9am and 4pm daily represented as Blue:

Revoking a level of water restriction

For all areas supplied from the Nymboida River, restrictions will be revoked when flows in the Nymboida River exceed 225ML/day for 14 days.

For all other instances - restrictions shall be revoked when the reservoirs are full or the localised situation is resolved.  

Sunday, 15 March 2015

The trouble with town water.....

Well it appears that Yamba in the Clarence Valley is going through another outbreak of highly discoloured water.

This is one such instance posted on Facebook, 10 March 2014 at 11.09am:

Rebecca Beare-Bath we have a burst main a few streets over and several residents all over Yamba are all of a sudden experiencing water this colour. Safe bet if you ask me.

As of 13 March discoloured water was still intermittently flowing through taps in Yamba.

That's five days of Water Lotto.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Santos' Gladstone LNG expansion proposal involves significant scientific uncertainties according to Federal Government's Independent Expert Scientific Committee

The industrialisation of rural and regional landscapes continue with Santos planning more than 6,000 water hungry gas wells operating for an estimated 30 years across 10,676 square kilometres in Queensland.

The Abbott Government has been in possession of the Independent Expert Scientific Committee’s final report on the Gas Fields Development Project since December 2014, sometime after which it was made publicly available on the Committee’s website.

ABC News 19 February 2015:

Top experts are warning of significant scientific uncertainties arising from a massive coal seam gas expansion proposal in Queensland.
The ABC has obtained a report from the Federal Government's Independent Expert Scientific Committee, which flags a concerning lack of information in project documents and says more work needs to be done on Santos's Gladstone LNG expansion proposal.
The proposed expansion covers 10,676 square kilometres and has the potential to include more than 6,000 gas wells across central Queensland.
"The scale, the early stage and the geographic extent of the proposed project development, together with other significant coal seam gas projects in the region, creates considerable scientific uncertainty about impacts on surface water and groundwater and associated ecosystems," the IESC report said.
According to the report, the potential impacts include:
* Reduced water supply to Groundwater Dependent Ecosystems, including Great Artesian Basin discharge and watercourse springs and endangered ecological communities.
* Changes to groundwater and surface water quality due to direct project activities and management of co-produced water.
* Cumulative impacts of Surat and Bowen basin activities (particularly coal seam gas and coal mining) on groundwater pressures and lag-time effects on water.
The IESC also warned the hydroecological information (including ecological water requirements of systems) was "inadequate" for understanding potential local ecological impacts.
"Methods applied are appropriate to understand regional impacts, particularly cumulative water drawdown," the Committee said.
"However, the methods used are not sufficient for understanding local-scale impacts, particularly to ecological assets.
"Recognising the considerable information provided in the project assessment documentation, the IESC is concerned that relevant data and information from investigations and monitoring from the [Gladstone LNG] Project and Joint Industry Programmes have not been incorporated in the project assessment documentation for [this latest] development."

There is also the matter of weather during cyclone season......

This is the Santos facility at Curtis Island, Gladstone QLD:

Then there is the matter of weather conditions during cyclone season.....

On 19 February 2015 7News reported:

Maritime Safety Queensland (MSQ) spokesman Patrick Quirk said ships would be moved away from Gladstone Harbour this morning as a precaution. "We have about 11 ships in the port and 23 ships at anchor and they'll be asked to clear the area," he said. "We have some LNG tankers also in the area and they'll go to sea to weather the storm."

The Financial Review on 20 February 2015:
Ports in Mackay and Gladstone had been shut down in preparation for the cyclone. Gas company Santos said all of its staff on its GLNG liquefied natural gas project had been moved off Curtis Island, near Gladstone, with workers moved into cyclone-proof accommodation. Bechtel, which has built the three gas processing plants on Curtis Island, said the projects would remain closed until the weather improved.