July 17, 2017
Re: Queensland Inc purchase of Springvale Station, west of Cooktown
Dear Mr Burns,
Further to our recent phone conversation about the mismanagement of Springvale by the EHP I would like to make the following points as per your request:
- The $7m purchase of Springvale was made on the basis of halting erosion and runoff into Princess Charlotte Bay
- This has been proven to be false and misleading data on sediment flows given to the EHP by a local researcher, for now it seems personal benefit
- Your own empirical data published in 2013, previous to the purchase of the station shows that Springvale contributes less than 1% of reef runoff from the upper catchment
- Your own data published in 2013 shows that Lakefield National Park contributes 86% of runoff onto the reef
- You have no suitable management plans for the station that have been agreed to by neighbouring properties, other than Tim Hughes
- Last week Springvale management firebombed a neighbour’s property without telling the owner
- Previous owners of the station, historically noted as well respected natural bushmen and conservationists, say there are no specific ecosystems found on the station that would justify national park status
- Springvale has 4000 acres of developed cultivation and three flood-lift irrigation licences for the Normanby River system
- The property is too highly developed for conservation values
- Cook dam, built on the station four years ago contains about 1000 ml of rain water
- It was designed by a Mareeba-based hydrologist and has been assessed by a local engineer as sound, it has survived four wet seasons, two with rainfall in excess of 50 inches, 20 in one week in 2015, and two cyclones
- It is anti-human nonsense to replace sound engineering with GAIA-based Agenda 21ideology that demands man-made structures be torn down so as to revert to nature
- This dam cost $400,000 to construct and would have provided irrigation water to support a multitude of food crops, thus providing indigenous jobs and prosperity for the Lakeland District and beyond
- The hydrologist who designed the dam has refuted allegations by your department that the wall is unsound
- Hydrologist Jeff Benjamin designed the dam and I will include comments he has made:
My personal view is that preservation of the dam as a sediment detention storage and wildlife refuge that would serve a more useful purpose than removing it, as there is some seriously fragile, eroded country just West and up-stream of the dam that no amount of OUR money thrown at it will ever stabilize.
The dam was designed with an effective spillway and fish-way, however construction work was forced to cease due to early wet-season rains. Although I did not visit the site when work ceased, I believe that the embankment height was about 1 to 1.5 m below the intended final design elevation. At this elevation a natural depression on the eastern side provides a broad, natural spillway so that the embankment would not be compromised in the event of intense storm run-off; which is in fact, exactly what occurred when Cyclone Etta, (I think), passed straight over the property in January 2014, reportedly dropping about 300 mm of rain over-night! The statement about “unacceptable safety risk” would therefore seem totally baseless.
- A large pumping unit, rented from Coates Hire in Cairns was seen on the dam bank some weeks before media attention. Another dam was also being emptied.
- This pump was placed in a shed at the homestead, out of the public view after the Minister was contacted by a reporter for his comments
- Polypipe syphons that were in the dam draining the water were also removed after media and public scrutiny
- A large amount of soil erosion damage was done by water running from the dam siphons onto the fragile soils causing one metre or more deep channels in the soils for 100 metres or more resulting in wide washouts below the dam wall. I have been able to source photographs of this wanton environmental damage which is a terrible indictment on your departmental officers and whoever ordered the dam’s destruction.
- Neighbors downstream of Springvale on the East Normanby reported large sediment plumes in the river, making a complete mockery of your Minister’s prattle regarding sediment runoff as the reason for removing Springvale Station and 4000 head of cattle from production leaving Cook Shire Council with an ever bigger hole in its dwindling rates income
- Removing this dam will destroy the newly created ecosystem based on the dam environment. Local birdlife, aquatic life systems and water for the survival of native animals will disappear when this dam is bulldozed.
- The biggest question remains. What to do with 30,000 cubic metres of earth fill from the dam wall? Your officers, obviously intellectual pigmies by their actions in wanting to remove the dam, would have no ability to restore the site to its original state. Any attempt to do so will result in a large percentage of this fill ending up in the East Normanby during the next tropical rainfall event. Then it will be a factual doomsday for Princess Charlotte Bay and the presently healthy Barrier Reef, thanks to the stupidity of anti-human malcontents like Jackie Trad, Stephen Miles and Bob Brown(are they buddies?)
- The only hope for small business and farmers, the real economic drivers of a once-prosperous Queensland combined with 24 years of the worst governments ever seen in any post-war economy anywhere in the developed world, is to forever banish ALP/Greens/LNP governments.
- We desperately need a Donald Trump clone in Australia to do away with all the population-reducing policies of the ISO, modern Labor and neo-Liberals. We could dump Paris, engage Clexit, ditch Agenda 21 cum 30, deny any further funding to you and your ilk, and hope the country can recover from the mother earth worshippers that infest your department(and all the others) not forgetting our infiltrated universities. Wow we might even return to God!
Keith Courte JP
- NB: I have never met nor spoken with the previous owner and do not know him, so please no witch hunts. Please do not again threaten me with trespass even though Springvale is the property of the political corporation, Queensland Inc. I have never placed a foot on the property. Should I come into possession of any more information I will send it to you.
The draining and bulldozing of a 1000 megalitre irrigation dam at Springvale Station south west of Cooktown by the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection has made a mockery of preventing sediment runoff onto the Great Barrier Reef.
Millions of litres of dam water is being siphoned from the dam directly into the East Normanby River, creating a muddy plume for many kilometres downstream, dumping thousands of tonnes of sediment onto the reef.
The East Normanby runs into the now dry West Normanby to become the Normanby River which eventually runs into Princess Charlotte Bay.
The 2016 purchase of the former cattle property by EHP drew much criticism from the farming industry when it was discovered flawed sediment runoff data was the basis for its acquisition by the government.
A spokesman for EHP Minister Stephen Miles confirmed the dam was being pumped out and millions of litres of valuable water were being discharged into the flowing East Normanby River.
Water being siphoned from the irrigation dam has cut a deep channel through the soil and is draining directly into the flowing East Normanby River(top of photo) creating massive sediment plumes kilometres downstream
The EHP has claimed the dam could fail, but adjoining landowner and former Cook Shire Mayor Graham Elmes said the dam was sound, properly built, had gone through four wet seasons and had filled easily during its first wet in 2013.
“This dam also acted as a large sediment trap filtering runoff into the river system, but when the walls are bulldozed what will happen to the 30,000 cubic metres of earth that an engineer has measured,” he said.
“It can’t be left in the excavation area because it will simply run off into the river and then Springvale actually will have a sediment runoff problem.”
KAP State leader Robbie Katter said the State Government is on a crusade against farmers.
“They are deceiving the public through misinformation and inaccurate data,” Mr Katter said.
“This is a fallacy, again derived from incorrect data and is a waste of viable, developed grazing property, which would be far better managed by a farmer than the State Government. This dam should be left intact.”
North East Regional Manager of Agforce Paul Burke was incensed that a government could undertake such “wanton waste.”
“It beggars belief that such a precious commodity could be pumped down the river when this property could have been producing a number of irrigated crops and still breeding cattle,” Mr Burke said.
The EHP spokesman claimed the dam “did not undergo a full regulatory approvals process as required by State legislation and is therefore unauthorised.
“To prevent dam failure and any subsequent downstream impacts, including contributions to sediment production within the catchment, the dam will be decommissioned and the land will be rehabilitated,” the spokesman said.
Mr Elmes was adamant the dam had been properly constructed and there was absolutely no chance the dam wall could fail.
“Bulldozing this water asset that cost $400,000 to build is totally irresponsible and an act of environmental vandalism.
“The government should stop all destructive activities on this property, freehold and subdivide it into four blocks and ballot these blocks for younger farmers,” he said.