How will climate change affect Townsville’s water security?

This, the fourth post in our water security series, began as a response to the first of them, the Townsville Water Discussion Paper, and addresses an issue which none of the first three looked at. Parts 2 and 3 are here and here. This is a guest post by Malcolm Tattersall. Once again, views expressed are the author’s, not those of NQCC. 

When I read Gail Hamilton’s post six weeks ago I agreed with nearly all of it but noticed a gap which was potentially important, i.e. the impact of climate change on our water security: the ‘Regional Water Supply Security Assessment’ from the Department of Water and Energy Supply (2014) (pdf here), upon which she relied for her ‘current situation’ section, didn’t consider climate change effects at all.

That seemed quite odd to me since we know that climate change is with us already on a global level – that most of the hottest years on record have occurred this century, that desertification is a key driver of conflicts in the Middle East, and that sea level rise is drowning low-lying islands and threatening major cities around the world. Some of us have also been feeling, on a much more local and personal level, that Townsville has been having weaker Wet seasons and hotter summers than ever before, and I happened to know, because I looked at it recently, that Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) data backs up our feelings.

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Koster’s curse – time is on our side

This guest post is contributed by the Invasive Species Council. The Invasive Species Council campaigns for stronger laws, policies and programs to keep Australia’s native plants and animals safe from weeds, feral animals and other invaders.

koster's curse

Koster’s curse. Photo: Forest & Kim Starr (Licence: CCBY 2.0)

Koster’s curse has been described as Australia’s new lantana. A slow-growing invasive weed, it smothers pastures and the native understorey of tropical rainforests.

It poses a threat to agriculture and the rainforests of our wet tropics. In Hawaii it has smothered everything in its path and forced landowners off their land – a bleak outlook for Australia’s beautiful wet tropics.

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Paperbark November 2016

Another busy month at NQCC! November will be another eventful month, with Maree attending the Environment Roundtables with other Queensland enviro groups, NQCC hosting an intern, and our unmissable trivia night on the 19th – don’t forget to purchase your tickets!

In this issue: Townsville Port expansion – radioactive contamination at Ben Lomond – Adani ‘critical infrastructure’ – Hell’s Gate Dam forum wrap-up – fisheries reform – Marine Park review – Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement – NQCC’s trivia night – EOI for 2017 postcard exhibition.

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Hell’s Gate Dam Forum

This is the third part in a four-part series that discusses issues about water in our region. Read part 1 here. Read part 2 here. Part four asks how climate change will affect our region’s water security. 

NQCC hosted a forum about the Hell’s Gate Dam feasibility study currently being conducted by Townsville Enterprise Ltd. NQCC was grateful to have the on-hand expertise of Patricia O’Callaghan (TEL CEO), David Lynch (principal economist for the study) and Jon Brodie (waterways expert). Here is what we were told about the dam and the study, plus questions that came from the audience.

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Port of Townsville Expansion

Click here to view the Additional Environmental Impact Statement for the Port expansion.

Click here to add your name to save our local waters from the Port’s muddy plan!

Click here to make a detailed submission using our template.


Media alert for Port forum 24 October “Community gathers about Port expansion plans”

Media release 19 October “The Port’s muddy plan for local waters just got bigger

Community forum at Magnetic Island RSL 26 October – RSVP here.

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Hell's Gate Dam - Water Wonderland or Pipe Dreams?

This is the second part in a four-part series that discusses issues about water in our region. Read part 1 here. Part three is a summary report of information shared by Townsville Enterprise Ltd. about the Hell’s Gate Dam feasibility study at our forum that was held on 10 October. Part four asks how climate change will affect our region’s water security.

Guest post written by Vern Veitch. All views expressed are the author’s and not the official opinion of NQCC.

With Townsville in a drought and under Level 3 water restrictions, the public are asking a lot of questions. Water falls out of the sky so why does it cost so much? Why don’t we just build another dam? If the dams are on higher ground, then why does water have to be pumped?

Mainstream media in Townsville certainly muddies the waters by publishing half-truths and not publishing all the really important bits of information. Through a concerted media effort, the public has been led to believe that Hell’s Gate is the answer to endless and cheap water.

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Townsville Divestment Day 2016

On Friday 7th October, NQCC coordinated the Townsville event for National Divestment Day. We went to our banks and gave them the message that if they continue to choose fossil fuels, then we will choose a different bank.

Customers turned out across Australia on the 7th and 8th of October 2016 to demand real climate change action from their bank! ANZ, Commonwealth Bank, NAB and Westpac were held accountable to the fact that they promised climate change action but continued to fund the expansion of the dirty fossil fuel industry. Accounts were closed, cards cut up and more letters of warning from customers who are ready to move their money if the banks don’t deliver real climate change action.

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Paperbark October 2016

paperbark newsletter banner

In this month’s Paperbark we have lots of updates about our campaigns and important details about upcoming events – including our AGM and Hell’s Gate Dam forum next Monday and our annual trivia night.

In this issue: Adani updates – save ARENA wrap – dead dugongs – marine parks – local water security – Boomerang Bags – saving frogs – divestment day – AGM and Hell’s Gate forum – our annual trivia night – Aussie Backyard Bird Count

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Townsville Water Security Discussion Paper

Guest post written by Gail Hamilton. Views expressed are the author’s and not the official opinion of NQCC.

This is the first part in a four-part series that discusses issues about water security in our region. Part two explores dam infrastructure options, and part three is a summary report of information shared by Townsville Enterprise Ltd. about the Hell’s Gate Dam feasibility study at our AGM and forum. Part four asks how climate change will affect our region’s water security.

Townsville has an excellent water supply system, with highly treated and very safe water sourced from the Ross, Paluma and Burdekin dams.

While the Ross is our main supply dam, it is highly variable, with a limited catchment and low rainfall.  The Paluma Dam is situated in the wet tropics and is much more reliable, but can only supply 30 ML per day.  The Burdekin Dam is a huge system, with over 1 000 000 ML per year of water allocations, some of which is not committed. Townsville has 120 000 ML of allocation from the Burdekin.[1]


In 2014, the Department of Energy and Water Supply undertook an assessment of Townsville’s water security.  

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Saving corroboree frogs from extinction

Guest post by Tiffany Kosch, Postdoctoral Research Fellow at James Cook University

Southern corroboree frogs (Pseudophryne corroboree) are considered Australia’s most iconic amphibian due to their bright black and yellow coloration. What most people may not realize is that this frog is nearly extinct in the wild. Surveys conducted this year at Kosciuszko National Park found less than 50 frogs remaining. This beautiful frog is susceptible to the amphibian chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis). The chytrid fungus was introduced into the corroboree frog habitat in the 1980’s causing this species to decline steadily until the present day where it would be extinct if not for human intervention. Luckily for corroboree frogs, their declines were noticed right away by scientists, and a captive breeding and reintroduction program was initiated by the Amphibian Research Centre, Taronga Zoo, and Zoos Victoria. Earlier this year, the corroboree frog captive breeding program released over 2000 eggs into the wild.

corroboree frg
Southern corroboree frog. Photo: Corey Doughty

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