Pictured: John Connell and Dr Claire Holland present at the inaugural conference of the Research for Ethical Development network in Cairns. [Photo credit: Simon Foale]Read more
This week's announcement by the Prime Minister of $5.4billion in funding for Hells Gates Dam has shaken up the political landscape in North Queensland, with supporters and opponents coming from all kinds of likely and unlikely places.
This is a proposal that NQCC has taken an interest in over several years (dating back to at least 2016), so we thought we'd share some of the main concerns we have with this project and the PM's promise to fund it.Read more
There are active proposals for a total of four new dams/weirs on the Burdekin: Hells Gates Dam (HGD); Big Rocks Weir, raising of the Burdekin Falls Dam and Urannah Dam. The cumulative effect of the additional water extraction of these will have a disastrous impact on the health of the Burdekin and the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) lagoon. Impacts include:
a) turning the Burdekin turbid for 12 months of the year below the dams (in the case of the HGD - for 270km or 52% of the Burdekin length), affecting all aquatic life in the river.
b) increased rise of the water table and salination in the Lower Burdekin Irrigation Areas, threatening established crop production.
c) sediment starvation and erosion of Cape Bowling Green (CBG). Breaching of CBG would radically affect Bowling Green Bay, and potentially affect the coastal communities of Cungalla and Jerona.
d) increased nutrient flows to the GBR from additional areas of agriculture. This would further intensify the existing threat to GBR water quality, reef health and biodiversity.
NQCC first raised concerns on the proposal for the Hells Gates Dam in October 2016 and again in November 2019. The Feasibility Study (2018) showed that irrigated agriculture in the proposed areas would not be economic for farmers, and yet a further $24M has been granted for a detailed Business Case Study.
In early 2020, NQCC formed the Burdekin Basin Sub-Committee which has;
a) studied a wide range of reports and academic studies;
b) conducted field visits to inspect sensitive sites (e.g. Cape Bowling Green erosion);
c) hosted a high-level seminar attended by a range of stakeholders (local councils, irrigators, fishing industry and environmental agencies) which covered issues in all areas of the Burdekin Basin;
d) made a submission to the Coordinator General for a coordinated approach to assessing proposals for water extraction and longer-term management of the Burdekin Basin.
This web page brings the results of this work together for all agencies and individuals with responsibilities and concerns for sustainable water management in the Burdekin, and in Australia more generally. The site will be updated as additional information and progress in activities becomes available.
ATTENDING THE INTERNATIONAL RIVERS SYMPOSIUM ON BEHALF OF THE BURDEKIN
24th International Rivers Symposium 27-30 Sept | The University of Queensland, St Lucia Campus
NQCC Committee Member and volunteer John Connell was invited to attend the 24th International Rivers Symposium, held in Brisbane in late September. This was an invaluable opportunity to introduce an international audience to some of the issues affecting the Burdekin River and to highlight NQCC's role in advocating for an integrated management approach.
Below is John's account of the event...Read more
This letter was written in response to The Hon Bob Katter MP's comments in this article, published in the Townsville Bulletin. We immediately responded with this open letter, from which some statements were published about a week later. You can read the printed article here.
Contrary to your recent claims that North Queensland Conservation Council (NQCC) represents the people of Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne, and that we’ve “never set foot off a pavement”, we have more in common than you think.Read more
Media Release: 23 August 2021
The Burdekin River belongs to all of us
North Queensland Conservation Council (NQCC) is on a mission to ensure that the Burdekin River can continue to support North Queenslanders for generations to come.Read more
Shifting from pioneering to mature and efficient water use
The sand spit off the coast south-east of Townsville that we call Cape Bowling Green has the important job of sheltering the Ramsar-listed (internationally important) wetlands of Bowling Green Bay National Park and the communities of Cungulla and Jerona from the forces of the open ocean.
Frighteningly, that long, thin sandy cape is currently under threat of being washed away entirely - and the Burdekin Falls Dam could be partly to blame.
Confusing concept? Using the research of Dr Eric Wolanski and imagery from John Connell and Chris Hopper, this article will help you wrap your head around this important local issue.Read more
The following letter by John Connell was published in the Townsville Bulletin on 1 May 2021.
In the last week several Federal politicians, McCormack and Littleproud passed through Townsville and talked up building more dams in the north. They criticised the Queensland Government for being slow to spend big dollars on building new dams, a mouth-watering $6B for Hells Gates Dam.
These are intelligent men, and so they should take the time to do the maths. The water really isn't there. In the TEL (Townsville Enterprise Ltd.) proposal, Hells Gates Dam would provide up to 580,000 ML from the Upper Burdekin catchment to irrigate 50,000 ha. TEL's Feasibility Study of 2018 showed that while the mean flows are 1,160,000 ML per year, the flows in most years will be closer to half that. Extracting half or more of the mainstream flows is not acceptable for the health of the river. We only need to look at the Murray-Darling.Read more
Media Release: 22/03/2021
Burdekin River Sustainability in focus on World Water Day
- North Queensland’s Burdekin River system is one of Australia’s most important, and supports:
- Internationally important wetlands, which are breeding grounds for native species,
- Productive agricultural areas, and
- Important cultural sites to First Nations groups and the wider North Queensland community.
- NQCC is working alongside experts, stakeholders and policy makers to explore integrated, innovative approaches for improved ecological and economic outcomes for the region.
- The Swim for Our Rivers fundraiser has raised almost $6,000 towards this work.
22 March is World Water Day, which provides an opportunity to reflect on what the future holds for the mighty Burdekin River – one of Australia’s most important river systems. According to eminent scientist John Williams, if urgent action is not taken, the Burdekin River could follow the same path to degradation as the Murray-Darling. With four dams proposed, it appears that its plight is heavily misunderstood.Read more