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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Media Release - Urannah Dam won't help Queensland Recover

7 May 2020

Mackay Conservation Group has questioned the Queensland Government’s support of a proposal to spend $2.9 billion on Urannah Dam in Central Queensland saying this is not the best use of public funds to enable an economic recovery.  

The Urannah Dam Project which was first proposed in the 1960s, was progressed today when the Queensland Coordinator General declared it a new coordinated project.

Mackay Conservation Group coordinator, Peter McCallum, said “Queensland and Australia are facing an extraordinary crisis, the Queensland Government has proposed to progress another $2.9 billion pipe-dream.  

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Media Release - Rivers fundraiser exceeds expectations

2 March 2020

The threat to wildlife posed by the proposed Urannah Dam has inspired community members to donate more than $20,000 to Mackay Conservation Group over the past six weeks.

Late last year the group began planning a fundraising swim-a-thon, hoping to raise $10,000 for a campaign to highlight the impact Urannah Dam would have on the Irwin's Turtle.

The Swim For Our Rivers fundraiser attracted a lot of community support and more than doubled expectations.

Mackay Conservation Group coordinator, Peter McCallum, said "donors contributed amounts from $5 to several thousand dollars.

"We were stunned when one person approached us to say that they would match any donation we received in the last week of the campaign, up to $10,000. It was such a pleasant surprise.

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Irwin's turtle. Will we lose this shy Australian before we even get to know it?

Photo supplied by Jeff Tan

For those who may have missed it Thursday 22 May was world turtle day, a special day to celebrate and raise awareness of these iconic creatures.  

Here in Central Queensland we have a wealth of sea and freshwater turtles including the unique Irwin’s Turtle (Elseya irwini). Irwin’s turtle was unknown to science until 1990 when it was discovered by renowned conservationists Bob and Steve Irwin.

Irwin’s Turtle is a fresh water turtle found only in the Broken-Bowen River system in central Queensland and has an estimated range of only 25km. Very little is known about Irwin’s turtle and there may be as few as 5000 individuals.Population studies of Irwin’s turtle have found that juvenile turtles, particularly young males, are under-represented.  These kind of population imbalances are concerning and may be caused by increased predation, making the species especially vulnerable to population shocks, habitat destruction and climate change.

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

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The insanity of damming Urannah Creek

It is said that ‘insanity’ is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. We have been told that the next big thing for our region is yet another feasibility study for the Urannah dam. That study will be the 19th attempt since 1967 to shuffle the cards and come up with a winning economic hand.

What is even more irrational is that the Federal Government paid $3 million of taxpayers’ money to have those cards reshuffled. Of course there’s a chance that this time the economic analysis may say something different to the previous 18 attempts. Maybe there’s a way to sell the water from Urannah dam to someone who’s willing to pay enough to recoup the dam’s construction and running costs. The only industry that can do that is mining.

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

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Urannah dam doesn't make sense

Urannah dam has created many jobs over the years but only in the economics and engineering community. Over the past 50 years 18 studies have been undertaken into the feasibility of the dam by both government and non-government organisations. They have all concluded the same thing, the dam doesn't stack up. So we were surprised when the Federal Government floated the idea it would fund another $3 million feasibility study into the dam.

That feasibility study appears to be going nowhere. Media reports late last year indicate that the consortium that has been awarded the funding is wracked with infighting over how the money would be allocated so no work has been done. The Queensland Government has proposed that the money should be allocated to Sunwater. But when Sunwater last investigated Urannah dam it found the dam to be uneconomic.

Background

Kenny DoddThe proposed Urannah Dam is located within the Bowen and Broken River catchments, 95km north-east of Mackay adjacent to Eungella National Park. If it went ahead it would be built on land that is currently leased by the Queensland Government to the Urannah Properties Association. It is subject to a native title claim registered by the Widi people in 2006, which covers an area of approximately 5,400 square kilometres. The dam site contains important initiation grounds among other cultural heritage values. The Widi people continue to campaign strongly to retain their native title rights over the land. 

Economic analysis

Constructing Urannah Dam has been estimated to cost between $250 and $300 million. In 2016 Mackay Conservation Group engaged an engineer, Thomas Williams, to undertake a Cost Benefit Analysis (CBA) of Urannah Dam. He determined that the dam would be uneconomic as it would return only $0.75 for every $1.00 invested. He found that there are cheaper ways to provide water for industrial purposes in the Galilee and Bowen Basins.

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LNP Urannah deal questioned

ABC News reporter, Mark Willacy, has been investigating the method by which a $3 million grant was made to a Brisbane company to undertake a feasibility study into a dam at Urannah Creek west of Mackay.

Earlier this year MCG engaged an engineer to undertake a review of the previous 18 studies into the possibility of constructing this dam. The review found that non of the previous studies found that the project would generate an economic return.

You can read our full report at: http://bit.ly/2djKZoS

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Urannah Dam will waste taxpayers money

Urannah_landscapes-25_copy.jpegMackay Conservation Group released a report last week which shows that tens of millions of taxpayer’s dollars will be wasted if the proposed Urannah Dam west of Mackay goes ahead

The report is a review of 17 previous studies into the dam dating back to the 1960s, none of which have provided sufficient evidence to justify a new dam, yet the federal government has recently committed $3 million to an 18th feasibility study of the Urannah Dam proposal.

The report, An Economic Analysis Of The Urannah Dam Project, found that it is most likely that for every $1 spent on the dam, only 75 cents of economic benefit would be returned. Even the most optimistic scenario from previous studies shows that the Urannah Dam would barely break even.

The key findings of the report are:

  • The Urannah dam is a more expensive option to deliver water for irrigation, the Galilee basin, and for the Bowen region;
  • The Urannah dam is a cheaper option to supply water to the Bowen basin, however, there does not appear to be enough additional demand for water supply to warrant construction of another water source in the near future;
  • The Burdekin Falls Dam costs $11.5M per annum less than the proposed Urannah dam at delivering the same economic outcome;
  • The Urannah dam provides a return of $0.75 for every dollar invested assuming full consumption of water by agriculture and mining.
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Urannah Dam economic analysis

Download a copy of the report "An Economic Analysis Of The Urannah Dam Project" here: 

Urannah Dam economic analysis

 

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Urannah Dam is for mining not agriculture

Irwin_Turtle_2.jpgUrannah Dam has been in the news a lot over the past year. Politicians have been talking up the proposal as a potential source of new water for agricultural land around Bowen. However, there are serious questions about whether farmers will ever see a drop of any water from this dam.

The Urannah Creek west of Eungella range is a beautiful place that has considerable environmental values. Its water flows into the Broken River and then into the Burdekin.It is home to the Irwin’s Turtle a unique species that was discovered in 1990 by Steve Irwin’s father Bob. 

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