Glenda Pickersgill relaxes in the cool waters of the Mary River after winning the fight to save the Mary River.
Glenda Pickersgill relaxes in the cool waters of the Mary River after winning the fight to save the Mary River. Craig Warhurst

New threat to Mary and Straits

MARY Valley advocates have backed reports in The Gympie Times indicating that the State Government’s proposed Northern Interconnector Pipeline could be as damaging as a Traveston Crossing dam.

And their concerns about pumping water from the Mary Basin to Brisbane have received strong backing from Sunshine Coast Regional Council.

In a joint statement with the downstream Greater Mary Association, Save the Mary River co-ordinating Group president Glenda Pickersgill said the Gympie and Fraser Coast region groups have been “feverishly” writing submissions to federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett, urging him to reject the pipeline as well.

“Reports indicate that Minister Garrett could make a decision on the $500 million Northern Pipeline Interconnector Stage 2 by February 12.”

“The proposed pipeline is a waste of taxpayers money. It is over-designed, unnecessary and will damage the fragile Mary River environment,” she said.

Ms Pickersgill said the State Government’s SEQ water strategy had set a “high 230 litres a day” water use target and included a statement that “options to make use of strategic reserve in the Mary Basin” would be investigated, “including an upgrade of Borumba Dam and water harvesting.

“This is the same Mary River environment which Minister Garrett said was in need of further protection,” she said.

Sunshine Coast councillors have expressed their own concerns at inter-basin water transfers, with Cr Debbie Blummel labelling the proposals “scandalously inept” and reliant on old-style engineering, funnelling huge amounts of water long distances through pipelines.

“The State Government can’t get its head around local place water management,” she said.

Ms Pickersgill said the sections of the pipeline which had been constructed already enabled water from the Mary catchment to be used in Brisbane, by taking it from Baroon Pocket Dam, with which it is already connected.

“If Minister Garrett were to approve Stage 2, the South East Queensland Water Grid would have access to Noosa’s water supply and to the Mary River.

“We need to send a clear message that more interbasin transfer from the Mary catchment is not acceptable to our community or the health of our Mary River.

“The Water Resource Plan for the Mary River needs to be redone.

“It is already over allocated and has low dissolved oxygen and has elevated salinity levels now during low flow months (July to November) and particularly during dry years,” Ms Pickersgill said.

Greater Mary Association president Darryl Stewart said the pipeline’s first two stages were planned to access up to 24,000ml a year from the Mary River, based on current water allocations.

“The pipe proposed for the NPI Stage 2 is 1.2m in diameter, a size which local engineers say will enable it to pump a much larger volume of water.

“If the full 24,000ML were used it would mean an unprecedented level of extraction from the Mary River.

“Given what we know about the vulnerability of the river to low flows this is a serious concern, which has not been adequately addressed by the proponent, LinkWater Projects,” Mr Stewart said.

“By admission of Queensland Government representatives, Brisbane has sufficient water for about another decade.

“One thing the Traveston Crossing dam campaign taught us is that we are all connected along the length of the river. This extra extraction will be devastating all the way to the Great Sandy Strait,” he said.

Gympie Times


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