Dams condemned by farmers, environmentalists and scientists

Media Release 

27 November 2020

The Queensland Coordinator General has today released draft terms of reference for Environmental Impact Statements for increasing the size of the Burdekin Falls Dam and construction of a new Urannah Dam both of which are in the Burdekin River basin in North Queensland. 

The projects have become increasingly controversial, with farmers, scientists and environmentalists raising serious concerns about the consequences of reducing the flow of water in Australia’s second largest river basin.

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Media Release: LNP Dams Plan was a Political Fizzer

2 November 2020

The outcome of last weekend’s Queensland election shows that voters could not be swayed by the promise of the biggest dam building program in Australia’s history.

The LNP promised to build a major new dam on the Burdekin River to irrigate dry lands in the interior of Queensland. The scheme would have cost tens of billions of dollars and led to unsustainable reductions in freshwater flowing to coastal ecosystems, including estuaries that fisheries depend upon.

The policy was targeted at voters in key electorates in Townsville. In an announcement in August, LNP leader Deb Frecklington said “the biggest benefit will be felt in Townsville” and “[the] project that will secure Townsville’s economic future for generations to come”.

Voters returned ALP candidates in all three Townsville seats with swings of about three per cent.

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Urannah Volunteers Needed

We're looking for enthusiastic volunteers to help with our Urannah Campaign. There are lots of things to do to ensure that Urannah Creek is protected from the crazy dam that has been proposed yet again. Over the past fifty years, the dam has been rejected more than 17 times because it makes no economic sense. Now the federal government has sponsored another feasibility study. We need volunteers to help us ensure this dam does not proceed.

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Robert & Terri Irwin speak about Irwin's Turtle

Robert and Terri Irwin interviewed about the Irwin's Turtle and the dam that will destroy its habitat on MixFM

Sign our petition https://www.mackayconservationgroup.org.au/protect_urannah_creek

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Steve Irwin's rare and remarkable bum-breathing turtle 'smack bang' on site of proposed Urannah Dam

Indigenous man in a black hat holding and looking at a green turtle with a cream white bill standing in a creekA turtle named after famed naturalist Steve Irwin that has the ability to breathe through its bum may be under threat from the proposed $4 billion Urannah Dam.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-10-01/urannah-dam-proposal-threat-to-bum-breathing-steve-irwin-turtle

Freshwater species elseya Irwini, or Irwin's turtle, was unknown to science until 1990 when 'Crocodile Hunter' Steve Irwin and his father Bob sent photos of a distinctive snapping turtle to the Queensland Museum.

The turtle's known habitat is limited to a 25-kilometre stretch of the Bowen River inland from Mackay.

James Cook University doctorate candidate Jason Schraffer said he was concerned about a significant risk to the isolated population of Irwin's turtles.

"The only known study population is smack bang on the site of the proposed dam," he said.

Sign our petition https://www.mackayconservationgroup.org.au/protect_urannah_creek

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Stop Adani Phone Jam

In seven weeks some of Adani's insurance expires so they're busy trying to find insurers to cover their dirty coal mine. We have convinced many insurance companies to not cover Adani but we still need to get another nine insurers to rule out support. We can do that by bombarding insurers offices with calls from people who are concerned about the climate damage of opening up the Galilee Basin coalfields.

So let’s ensure those remaining insurer’s phones ring hot with the #StopAdani message!

On Tuesday 6 October we will be meeting at the Mackay Environment Centre and online to learn how to do that and make a couple of calls each. Please RSVP for this event so we can join together to make as many two minute calls as possible. 

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Hunt for the Irwin's Turtle - 29 Sept 2020

When the the Australian continent separated from Gondawana about 180 million years ago, our freshwater turtles began a long journey of evolution distinct from turtles in other parts of the world. A unique species, Irwin's Turtle, evolved in isolation: a pink-nosed turtle that is able to survive for extended periods submerged by extracting oxygen from the water. It lives in the beautiful, crystal-clear waters of Urannah Creek, west of Mackay. 

Sign our petition https://www.mackayconservationgroup.org.au/protect_urannah_creek

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Urannah Campaign Update

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Mackay Conservation Group’s former coordinator, Ian Sutton, undertook a biological assessment of the Urannah Creek west of Mackay in 2004. He found a hidden valley in almost pristine condition. Ian described a valley without weeds that provided habitat in the form of Bluegum forest and endangered Black Ironbox, with stands on Ironbark on its slopes.

Urannah Creek is the most permanent river in the Burdekin system and supports healthy fish and turtle populations.

Although Urannah is close to several population centres, the topography and the lack of good road access makes it a very remote place. During the dry season four wheel drive vehicles are necessary to access the creek. In wet season the area virtually impassable. The valley is walled in by the ranges on all sides, except for a gap near Mt Cauley where the Broken River exits on its journey westward.

These physical barriers and the joint boundary with Eungella National Park to the south east, plus the lack of any past ‘pasture improvements’ render the area an isolated ‘island’ of virtually pristine natural heritage. Ian described the valley as a secure, almost unique example of pre-European landscape of the area. Those values haven’t changed since 2004. This unique and important area west of the Eungella rainforest is once again under threat, with plans of a massive dam, industrial scale irrigated agriculture and a questionable hydroelectric scheme.

Sign our petition https://www.mackayconservationgroup.org.au/protect_urannah_creek

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Successful campaign to remove weeds

Many in the Mackay Community would be aware for some years I have been raising awareness and concern regarding the proliferation of weeds in water ways, particularly the lagoon in the Botanic Garden stretching westwards to Racecourse Mill. My concerns are the number of types of invasive weeds above and below surface almost choking each other for existence and totally choking the whole water way, to the detriment of platypus and other aquatic life species.

It is obvious that any neglect of controlling these weeds, they will eventually be transferred by bird life to every creek, dam, waterway in the region, eventually changing the whole ecology of our waterways, and I’m sure not for the better. 

So! After many times “knocking on doors” was very pleasantly surprised to see a major effort of a machine excavator removing the weeds west of the rail overpass.Combined with the weed spraying in the water near the water treatment plant, with biological trials the water way is looking clearer than it has for years.

The extent of weed invasion in surrounding waterways in the region I am now sure is well on the radar of authorities and being monitored, am pleased to see the increased effort to manage the problem.

Graeme Ransley

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COVID-19 recovery is no excuse to gut environment laws

E42F0001-F97D-4317-9E88-FADDD1163442.jpegThere is a good reason that Australia’s system of environmental laws has been developed. Without proper controls, people and the environment are at risk of long term harm.

Queensland has had its fair share of environmental disasters. A good example is the issue of toxic waste.

Prior to laws being enacted to list contaminated land, people who purchased a property in our state had no idea whether the land had been previously used to dump toxic waste.

The most famous case of land contamination in Queensland was at Kingston, south of Brisbane. A gold mine operated in the area for several decades. Cyanide from the mine was disposed around the site. After the mine closed, the local council allowed a waste disposal company to use the mine site to dump oil. It then became a domestic and industrial waste tip.

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