Site of the proposed dam wall for the Traveston crossing dam.
Site of the proposed dam wall for the Traveston crossing dam.

Still fighting for Mary River

THE Mary River is far from saved, despite the collapse of the Traveston Crossing dam proposal, according to an announcement by Queensland Natural Resources Minister Stephen Robertson this week.

Mr Robertson announced plans to take the Mary’s water anyway, with or without a dam, under State Government policies which offer no guarantee about environmentally and commercially vital fresh water flows into the Fraser Coast and Great Sandy Straits fisheries.

As the federal government looks towards new conservation-oriented restrictions or bans on fishing off the Cooloola Coast, in order to preserve allegedly threatened species, its state government colleagues are advocating water harvesting and dam raising plans which would eliminate much of the fisheries’ food and fresh water sources.

Greater Mary Association president Darryl Stewart, who was a significant campaigner against the dam, has warned that the end of that project has not removed the threat to our area from major inter-basin water transfer to Brisbane.

Mr Stewart says he has questioned government officials about their claims to be allowing environmental flows in the river.

“I haven’t seen the latest statement from Mr Robertson, but they have never changed their position that their plans are based on a so-called ‘Strategic Reserve’ of 150,000 Megalitres.

“Guess what the projected capacity of the Traveston Crossing dam was – 150,000ML”.

The State Government has not allowed any ocean outflow of fresh water from the Mary River in its plans to extract significant amounts of water from the Mary River, Greater Mary Association president Darryl Stewart said yesterday.

Mr Stewart said government plans, still in force, allow for “minimal environmental flows” in the river.

“...whatever that means,” Mr Stewart said yesterday.

“I was on an advisory panel, selected by Mr Robertson and we felt we had been profoundly misled.

“We looked at a draft, but what eventuated was different from the draft.

“I said it should read ‘optimal’ flows, not ‘minimal’ but I didn’t do any good,” he said.

“When I asked questions about environmental flows, I was told the government’s Water Reserve Plan was for the freshwater section only and that anything in the estuary was out of their area.

“In other words, their concerns about the Mary River end at the barrage (where fresh water is kept separate from salty estuary water).

“Every other water reserve plan contains environmental flows and they include in that flows to the estuary.

“That’s taken into account because of its importance to the fishery.

“But this one doesn’t,” he said.

“Basically, the situation hasn’t changed and everything you’ve quoted me as saying in the past you can quote me again.

“It’s clear that the government will continue to rely mostly on dams, which are a 15th Century technology.

“They only hold water if it rains,” he said.

Mr Stewart was responding to Mr Robertson’s release on Thursday of the Queensland Water Commission’s South East Queensland Water Strategy.

Mr Robertson called the document “the blueprint for water security for the next half-century.”

Desalination would play a key role also, with sites at Lytton and Marcoola.

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