Category Archives: Irrigation projects
Curse less and dam more
by Viv Forbes, science writer
Water conservation peaked in Australia in 1972 – our last big dam was Wivenhoe in Queensland built 35 years ago.
Elsewhere in Australia, water conservation virtually stopped when Don Dunstan halted the building of Chowilla Dam on the Murray in 1970 and Bob Brown’s Greens halted the Franklin Dam in 1983 (and almost every other dam proposal since then).
The Darling River water management disaster shows that we now risk desperate water shortages because our population and water needs have more than doubled, and much of our stored water has been sold off or released to “the environment”.
However, we regularly see floods of water being shed by the Great Dividing Range, most of it ending up in the Pacific Ocean, while somewhere to the west of that watershed is in severe drought.
Our ancestors had the prudence and the will to build great assets like the Tasmanian and Snowy hydro schemes, Lake Argyle, Fairbairn Dam and the Perth to Kalgoorlie water pipeline? What are we building for our children?
Politicians can pass laws or find money for games, stadiums, climate jamborees, study tours, gifts to foreigners, green energy toys and useless giant batteries. Canberra alone spends a billion dollars every day.
Our engineers know how to lay large pipelines over hundreds of km to export natural gas, and bore road and rail tunnels through mountains and under cities and harbours.
But we cannot find the funds or the courage to build a couple of dams on the rainy side of the Great Divide somewhere between the Ross River at Townsville and the Clarence River at Grafton and some pumps, tunnels and pipes to use and release it into the thirsty Darling River basin.
Someone is always cursing either droughts or floods.
We need to curse less and dam more.
Green preferences are driving the Labor Government’s proposed draconian environmental policies as a trade-off for the Adani coal mine approval.
A source close to the ALP is warning Wild Rivers “on steroids” rebadged as ‘Pristine Rivers’ will be put back on the table along with revamped, tough vegetation management laws should the ALP win the upcoming election.
The source said revisiting Wild Rivers and vegetation management laws are on the agenda for the upcoming State ALP conference to be held in Townsville at the Convention Centre on July 28 and 29.
A World Heritage listing over the Laura sandstone escarpment country, mooted by the State Government, also looms large for the people of the Peninsula.
Deputy Premier Jackie Trad is moving to pacify the Greens’ hostility over approvals to allow Australia’s largest coal mine in Central Queensland to go ahead.
Trad and her colleague, Environment and Heritage Protection Minister Stephen Miles, have not yet taken into consideration the strident opposition of Cape York Peninsula communities, the Cape York Land Council and pastoralists alike, some of whom claim they will campaign against the party at the State election expected on November 4 this year.
Pastoralists and some communities believe a World Heritage nomination by the State Government will be the precursor for listing the entire Peninsula, in effect the beginning of the end for the economic prosperity of Aboriginal communities sitting on vast tracts of grazing property.
In a recent radio interview, Chairman of the CYLC, Richie AhMat castigated the proposed new versions of Wild Rivers and vegetation laws as well as the existing environmental overlays on most Aboriginal freehold and Deed of Grant in Trust land(DOGIT) covering nearly one half of the land area of the Peninsula.
Referring to the Wild Rivers legislation, Mr AhMat asked how the government expected Aboriginal people to start up businesses and to be economically viable “when these land restrictions appear out of nowhere?”
“You can’t talk about economic development on one hand and you can’t talk about indigenous employment on the other, and you can’t talk about Northern Australia on both hands.”
In reply to a question about the as yet undisclosed ‘Pristine Rivers’ policy Mr AhMat alluded to funding that had been allocated in the past two state budgets purportedly for consultation with traditional owners.
He said he was worried about all the rivers in Cape York which could be affected by a lock up policy.
“All of our rivers in Cape York are fresh water rivers, water is a huge commodity now and nobody in their wildest dreams 10 years or fifteen years ago expected them to buy a bottle of fresh water,” Mr Ah Mat said.
“To buy a bottle of fresh water is more than a litre of fuel.
“Why does the government want to lock up Cape York, because they have a 20 to 30 year plan but they aren’t talking to anybody, it’s all secretive because we are out of sight and out of mind.
“We fought long and hard against the wild rivers, long and hard and we were untied as one on Cape York.
“This Pristine Rivers believe me there are rumblings about it in 1 William Street (Executive Building) now.
“This legislation over land is going to block everything.”
Gordon Rasmussen, Katters Australian Party candidate for the Cook electorate, which takes in all of Cape York, agreed with Mr Ah Mat.
“It looks like Northern Development is just a talk fest because what Mr Ah Mat says about locking up all the rivers and land on Cape York makes a mockery of the $5 billion federal fund for northern land development,” Mr Rasmussen pointed out.
“How does the federal government expect to achieve anything in an area like the Peninsula to help economic development for struggling communities when the State Government has divided up most of the Aboriginal land into nature reserves, national parks and heritage areas?
“If the Labor Party gets back into government we are all in for a very rough trot.”
Geo-park plan rings alarm bells for North Qld graziers
A plan to declare the entire Etheridge Shire in Far North Queensland as a ‘global geo-park’ is ringing alarm bells for local graziers, AgForce said today.
AgForce Northern President Russell Lethbridge, who lives in the Etheridge Shire, said cattle production was the predominant industry in the shire and graziers wanted to know how a geo-park declaration would impact on their businesses.
“The Etheridge Shire Council has announced they will seek a geo-park registration with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), but haven’t properly explained what it all means and how it will affect development opportunities,” he said.
“Graziers have seen how the Queensland Government have used UNESCO as a justification for tougher vegetation management restrictions, so are understandably suspicious about a plan to declare a UNESCO ‘Global Geopark’ over an area of some 40,000 square kilometres.
“AgForce has been inundated with calls from Far North graziers who want to know how a geo-park registration would impact on what they can and can’t do on their land, while there are also concerns about how this will affect the Gilbert River irrigated agricultural precinct.
“This issue is generating a lot of heat and has united graziers in the Etheridge Shire like no other issue I’ve seen before, so it is important the council and proponents of the geopark explain the motivation behind the proposal.
” Mr Lethbridge said AgForce had responded to the groundswell of concern by organising a meeting at the Georgetown Town Hall from 2pm on Friday 16th June to discuss the geo-park proposal.
“All landholders in the Etheridge Shire are invited to attend to tell us their views about the geo-park proposal, and to ask questions of council representatives,” he said.
“Graziers currently have more questions than answers and the meeting is an opportunity for everyone to learn more about the proposal and for proponents to outline their case.
“AgForce is committed to getting all the information to landholders so they can better understand the issue and make an informed decision based on all the facts.”
from Jim O’Toole at Cooktown
The highly controversial purchase of the 150,000 acre Springvale Station, 50 klms west of Cooktown by the State Government is refusing to die in the media, in spite of a recent scientific report clearing the Lakeland farming district of any reef runoff from the Springvale river catchment.
Taking advantage of annual coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef , 200 nautical miles north of Cooktown that this year covered a larger than normal area, ABC Television and their usual Green bed mates have wasted tens of thousands of dollars of taxpayers money with false and misleading reports.
Tuesday night’s 7.30 Report hosted by Mark Willacy took the cake.
After lower Cape York Peninsula viewers last year were treated to one of the most misleading reports ever broadcast by the ABC about land clearing at Olive Vale station, 60 klms to the north, WWF head kicker Andrew Picone was joined on the show by Tim Hughes of the South Endeavour Trust.
Local viewers said the story was devoid of fact and an insult to Peninsula farmers and cattle producers who believed comments by Mr Hughes amounted to a “bid for paid management rights.”
“Never let the facts get in the way of a Green story,” another landowner, who asked not to be named, told Cairns News.
Tim Hughes, through the South Endeavour Trust, manages the neighbouring property Kings Plains.
The Trust has 10 properties in its portfolio, purportedly managed by Mr Hughes for ‘conservation values.’
Predictably the ABC trotted out an indigenous group from Laura to visit the seasonal river.
They said members of their community visited the Normanby to catch fish and for recreational camping.
Cairns News can report that some indigenous people regard river beds as rubbish dumps, as the picture below of the nearby Laura River shows.
This campsite in the Laura River bed was photographed last year after a group of indigenous people left a mountain of rubbish behind. Beer bottles, food wrapping, an old mattress and disposable baby nappies were strewn about the river bed.
It was not removed and ended up being flushed down the river in the first fresh late last year.
Kings Plains manager Daryl Paradise and Mr Picone claimed a mining application by former Cook Shire Mayor and onetime owner of Springvale, Graham Elmes would silt-up the entire Barrier Reef if mining in the sandy bed of the West Normanby River went ahead.
Mr Elmes explained that removing gold or tin from sandy river beds is quite common in the Far North.
A large gold dredge was operating in the Mitchell River last year and the rich Palmer River had been extensively mined in this way for 120 years, without any evidence of serious river degradation.
Along with Mark Willacy, who was present at nearby Lakeland three weeks ago when the Great Barrier Reef Water Science Task Force gave the entire catchment area of the Normanby River system a clean bill of health, Mr Hughes seemed to be unaware of this finding. http://www.gbr.qld.gov.au/documents/gbrwst-interim-report-highres.pdf
Chief Scientist for Queensland, Dr Geoff Garrett, who heads the Task Force, told farmers in late May that the study found no measurable runoff coming from the Normanby catchment area that eventually runs into the sea.
This makes the $7m purchase of Springvale a rather spurious acquisition to halt alleged reef runoff.
Most farmers agree the well-improved cattle station, which runs 3500 breeder cattle, was purchased solely to prevent the proposed West Normanby dam site from going ahead.
Prior to the election, the Federal Government allocated $825,000 to conduct a feasibility study for a new dam site to provide reliable irrigation water for the nearby, expanding Lakeland farming district.
A substantial State Government budget allocation was made for the purpose of progressing World Heritage nominations for Cape York Peninsula.
The WWF and ACF have for two decades or more pushed the ALP to nominate the entire Cape for World Heritage, in defiance of the wishes of all Aboriginal communities.
20 May 2016: KAP Leader for Kennedy, Bob Katter has thanked the Prime Minister for his interest in the Hell’s Gate dam proposal. The Turnbull Express came to Townsville earlier in week (18 May) promising rail upgrades into the Port and a feasibility study into Hell’s Gate dam.
“Malcolm Turnbull’s water talk is another step forward for us with Hell’s Gate,” said Mr Katter.
“There are a number of studies that exist into this proposal right now. One is the $3m I got for the Dalrymple Report which is a study on the Hell’s Gate dam and coal mining proposal at Pentland.
“We thank both the current Prime Minister and the ALP Government and Treasurer Swan and most of all Dr Bradfield and Sir Leo Hielscher, the legendary Chairman of the Treasury and architect of the strongest state economy in Australian history. We also thank Jenny Hill, the mayor and her council for their support of Hell’s Gate.”
Mr Katter said the Hell’s Gate proposal opens up vast areas of Western Qld but also has the potential to be the first clean energy project in Australian history,
“The real heart of this project is the potential of $2000m a year from Ethanol, sugar, electricity, and diesel (bio) thanks to the magnificent work done by JCU.
“I think this will lead to big change in Hughenden where work is well advanced both on irrigation and meatworks projects. Also, a lot of work has been done at Pentland on some very advanced technology industries.”
Mr Katter said the bane of Nth Qld has been the lack of baseload power,
“I’m confident with Federal Government cooperation half of Nth Qld’s current electricity can be provided from this project at rates infinitely cheaper than that provided by electricity pumped up from Southern Qld power stations.
“The dam proposal holds the water a whopping 300 metres above Townsville. When you turn the tap on in Townsville now, you pay the electricity man. When you take the water from Hell’s Gate through hydroelectric turbines, the electricity man pays you — the water-user in Townsville.”
The Federal Government’s Northern Development legislative program could take a hit should a double dissolution election be called on July 2. The Government has pledged $5 Billion for development from the Kimberley region in Western Australia to eastern Cape York Peninsula. The enabling bill to secure this massive project could stall and not be presented at the next Parliamentary sittings.
Agriculture will be the main beneficiary of the long sought after strategy with large-scale irrigated cropping projects to be funded on a 50-50 basis, starting at $50 million.
The CSIRO has been charged with mapping the areas of arable soils across the north, already identifying 16 million hectares, about 5 per cent of the total northern land mass.
The notion of Northern Development and large scale irrigated farmland has been around for decades but its main proponent in more recent years has been Kennedy MP Bob Katter.
He says the Government must get the bill through Parliament before the election, because he did not trust the Labor Party to continue with the scheme should it win on July 2.
Katter urged the Member for Leichardt and chairman of the Joint Select Committee On Northern Australia, Warren Entsch to ensure it is passed through both Houses at the next sitting starting April 18.
“The CSIRO might have found several dam sites on eastern Cape York, but the State Labor Government and their bed-mates the WWF, Wilderness Society and CAFNEC are hell bent on shutting the Peninsula down to prevent any agriculture or other development, thus denying indigenous communities jobs and a future,” Mr Katter pointed out.
“Successive state governments have plastered the entire Cape York Peninsula with environmental overlays covering about 70 per cent of its land mass, stopping any economic development for pastoralists and indigenous communities, so we must get some development on what is left.”
CSIRO researcher Dr Peter Stone has been heading up the North Australia Water Resources Assessment looking for substantial dam sites to irrigate proposed large scale farmland.
Dr Stone told ABC Radio that 16 million hectares of arable soils had been identified as suitable for irrigation and 90 dams sites had been found to provide up to 15,000 gigalitres of stored water.
The north was inundated with an average 2 million gigalitres of rainfall each year, of which 90 per cent evaporates, 10 per cent goes into streams and about 2 per cent enters the groundwater storage, he said.
“The research by CSIRO proves these projects can be taken seriously and I have been pushing for 20 years that northern development has to occur, because for too long southern cities have lived off our coat tails of copper, coal and cattle and its time we put this country back on track,” Mr Katter said.
Aboriginal leader Noel Pearson(above) has been scathing of the State Government over land use on the Peninsula. At a recent Mareeba meeting he stressed the need for more secure land tenure on the Peninsula and likened proposed draconian vegetation management laws to a “re-run of Wild Rivers,” an impost he said he had fought to get rid of for five years.
Water is essential for all life, and happily it is abundant on our blue watery planet
by Viv Forbes, science writer
However, salty oceans cover 70% of Earth’s surface and contain 97% of Earth’s water. Salt water is great for ocean dwellers but not directly useful for most life on land. Another 2% of Earth’s water is tied up in ice caps, glaciers and permanent snow, leaving just 1% as land-based fresh water.
To sustain life on land, we need to conserve and make good use of this rare and elusive resource.
Luckily, our sun is a powerful nuclear-powered desalinisation plant. Every day, solar energy evaporates huge quantities of fresh water from the oceans. After a stop-off in the atmosphere, most of this water vapour is soon returned to earth as dew, rain, hail and snow – this is the great water cycle. Unfortunately about 70% of this precipitation falls directly back into the oceans and some is captured in frozen wastelands.
Much of the water that falls on land is collected in gullies, creeks and rivers and driven relentlessly by gravity back to the sea by the shortest possible route. Allowing this loss to happen is poor water management. The oceans are not short of water.
Some animals and plants have evolved techniques to maximise conservation of precious fresh water.
Some Australian frogs, on finding their water holes evaporating, will inflate their stomachs with water then bury themselves in a moist mud-walled cocoon to wait for the drought to break. Water buffalo and wild pigs make mud wallows to retain water in their private mud-baths, camels carry their own water supply and beavers build lots of dams.
Some plants have also evolved water saving techniques – bottle trees and desert cacti are filled with water, thirsty humans can even get a drink from the roots and trunks of some eucalypts and many plants produce drought/fire resistant seeds.
Every such natural water conservation or drought-proofing behaviour brings benefits for all surrounding plants and animals.
Tinaroo Falls Dam wall, 80klm south west of Cairns. Its 440,000 megalitre storage provides water for life, farming, hydro-electricity, human consumption and recreation. It cost $12.66 million to construct in the mid-1950’s and has returned several billion dollars and huge amounts of fresh produce to the economy
People have long recognised the importance of conserving fresh water – early settlers built their homes near the best waterholes on the creek and every homestead and shed had its corrugated iron tanks. Graziers built dams and weirs to retain surface water for stock (and fence-crashing wildlife), used contour ripping and good pasture management to retain moisture in soils, and drilled bores to get underground water. And sensible rules have evolved to protect the water rights of down-stream residents.
Rainfall is often a boom and bust affair. Much fresh water is delivered to the land surface suddenly in cyclones, storms and rain depressions. But “The Wet” is always followed by “The Dry”, and droughts and floods are normal climatic events. People who fail to store some of the flood must put up with the drought.
Greens should learn from the beavers. Strings of dams can moderate flood risk, as well as creating drought sanctuaries and secure water for graziers, towns, irrigators and wildlife. Modern cities could not survive without large water storages for drinking water, sanitation, gardens and factories.
Fresh water is also necessary to produce fresh food. We can have fresh milk, butter, cheese, meat, vegetables, nuts and fruit; or we can irrigate the oceans and import fresh food from more sensible countries. And without fresh water and fresh food, there will be no local food processing.
Those infected with the green religion believe we should waste our fresh water by allowing it all to return as quickly as possible to the salty seas. They fight to protect beaver dams and natural lakes, but persistently oppose human dams and lakes. Some even want existing dams destroyed, while wasting billions on energy-hungry desalination and sewerage re-treated plants, pumps and pipelines.
They also want to prohibit man’s production of two drought-defying atmospheric gases, both released by the burning of hydrocarbons – carbon dioxide which makes plants more drought tolerant, and water vapour which feeds the clouds and the rain.
Green water policies are un-sustainable, even suicidal.
Humans must copy the beavers and “Build more Dams”. And help the biosphere by burning more hydrocarbons.
“Dung Beatles ate our Climate History” or “Droughts and Extreme Weather are Nothing New.”
by Dr Bill Johnson:
Only one city water supply dam has been built in Australia in the last 30 years:
“We must reclaim the roads and plowed lands, halt dam construction, tear down existing dams, free shackled rivers and return to wilderness tens of millions of acres of presently settled land.” – David Foreman, a founder of “Earth First”.
Trickery and Puffery in climate spending claims:
Billions spent on irrelevant climate pledges: http://joannenova.com.au/2015/12/billions-of-dollars-on-irrelevant-pledges-that-have-nothing-to-do-with-the-climate/
Green Climate Fund a slush fund for dictators:
Professor Ian Plimer in Westminster
Here is an eloquent summary of climate matters by Professor Ian Plimer, addressing a meeting organised by the Global Warming Policy Forum in a committee room in the British Houses of Parliament. (Can’t let him loose on the politicians themselves, can we?)
Also, here is a review of Ian Plimer’s latest book, “HEAVEN AND HELL” – how the Pope condemns the poor to eternal poverty:
“The entire trillion dollar climate change industry rests on a single hypothetical assumption. The assumption is that emissions of CO2 by humans drive global warming. To this day there is no scientific evidence to support this assumption.”
from Robert J Lee, Cairns bureau
The Malthusians of the World Wildlife Fund and the Australian Conservation Foundation got the Cairns Post into hot water on Saturday Nov 7, when the Murdoch tabloid published their untruthful and misleading media release about land clearing.
Olive Vale station at Laura was granted a permit to clear 31,800 ha by the former LNP State Government but the WWF in usual form, churned out misleading information in an effort to halt any development in the north.
Local federal Liberal member Warren Entsch has been severely embarrassed by the publication of the falsified information that the journalist admitted was not checked for fact.
However to his credit he has come out swinging at the greenie “clowns” and his own government.
It would have been an easy exercise for the journalist to simply read previous articles held on file in the Cairns Post newsroom.
Not so the Murdoch media and in shades of the ABC, it simply regurgitates the dishonest crap put out by the multitude of Cairns greenie groups, particularly anything that mentions the Great Barrier Reef.
The offending article elicited a stinging rebuke from owner of Olive Vale station, Paul Ryan.
Below is Mr Ryan’s response to Cairns Post journalist Kimberley Vlasic:
“Approval is to clear 31,800 ha , not the 35,000 ha stated by Andrew Picone of ACF”.
To date less than 2000 ha has been cleared (confirmed by federal and state departments) not the bullshit comment of 5000 ha from Andrew Picone.
Clearing works stopped 10th June 2015 ,works then began on preparing cleared land for planting of Sorghum this coming wet season.
Andrew Picone of the Australian Conservation Foundation, a Malthusian, caught out sending misleading and dishonest media releases to the Cairns Post about lawful land clearing.
At no time has Olive Vale been formally notified to stop clearing by any government department .Current cessation of clearing is voluntary.
Olive Vale has met all legal requirements of project DA approval.
Approximately 500 ha to be planted with sorghum this wet season.
Queensland Department of Agriculture will be running a trail cropping program within the Olive Vale project area.
On 2nd July 2015 Olive vale and Koolburra stations were granted an approved generic SMP (species management plan ) for all clearing operations excluding Olive Vale farming project.
10th August 2015 Olive Vale submitted to EHP (State Department of Environment) a draft project specific SMP .
9th September EHP responded with request for changes to SMP
Olive Vale has been working through requested changes and will resubmit an up dated SMP by end of November.
The publishing of miss leading information in regards to the Olive Vale project affects the ability to obtain project specific external funding.
All current works to date have been funded directly by the owners of Olive Vale station.
The people affect the most by this project are the residents of Laura, Olive Vale is the largest employer within the Laura area.
I receive phone calls daily from locals looking for work .
Has anyone ask these local residents of Laura (Traditional owners) what their opinion is.
Olive Vale Pastoral operations within Cape York directly employs 20 staff ,with indigenous staff making up 40%.
A further 4 North Queensland based contractors are used to fill specific skill requirements.
If clearing was to proceed these numbers would double within 6 months.
All current indigenous employees have been signed up for apprenticeships (traineeship) in machinery operation.
These qualified staff will then be available as trainers for the employment of local residents that are currently not qualified.
How many people are directly employed by ACF or the Wilderness Society within Cape York and more specifically in the Laura area?
No representative from ACF or The Wilderness Society has ever contacted Olive Vale pastoral in regards to our operations.”
The Cairns Post, in a half-hearted retraction in its November 10 issue, tried to smooth over the irresponsible greenie claptrap.
In an email to Mr Ryan , journalist Kimberley Vlasic apologised for not contacting Mr Ryan to get the facts. No apology appeared in the Nov 10 story.
The article tries to sidestep its previous misinformation instead shifting the blame onto Warren Entsch and the Liberal Government, when in fact the impasse over approvals for the clearing lies directly with the State Government and Deputy Premier Jackie Trad, who has refused to pass on the necessary information to the federal government.
The Liberal’s much-heralded Northern Development is indeed a misnomer and a lot of Asian corporations have been misled about getting involved in agriculture by the state and federal governments.
A theory of the few remaining white pastoralists on Cape York Peninsula has become closer to reality as any development is stopped by governments pandering to greenies and the indigenous Cape York Land Council.
Not very secret plans to create an indigenous state of Far North Queensland are gradually taking shape as the theory of white de-population eventuates.
Graziers claim the banks, in collusion with the State Government( both the previous LNP and now ALP governments) and the Cape York Land Council and have begun their campaign of asset-stripping large pastoral properties as banks unlawfully foreclose on three of the largest remaining white-owned cattle producers on the Peninsula without so much as a peep from either political party.
At least one Aurukun ‘white’ Aborigine sits on the sidelines trying to wrest a large property from bank receivers at an offer that is one tenth of market value.
In the last three years 1.5 million hectares of dispossessed white-owned cattle properties have been acquired by the State Government and handed over to Aborigines free of charge.
Approximately 60 per cent of the Aboriginal freehold property on Cape York Peninsula has a conservation zoning of some description placed over it that precludes cattle grazing.
Peninsula hoteliers and businesses say they feel threatened by underlying simmering tensions and in some cases direct threats made by hostile black elements throughout the Peninsula.
The hoax of Northern Development that includes Cape York Peninsula came home to roost when in August the State Government negotiated an Indigenous Land Use Agreement that handed over control of the Peninsula Development Road to the CYLC.
The PDR is the only land access to vital defence installations in the Far North.