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
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
Below is an article published in the Townsville Bulletin on Wednesday 16 December, 2020.
Burdekin Mayor, Lyn McLaughlin
Mayor Lyn McLaughlin calls for impact assessment of Burdekin catchment damming
A North Queensland mayor has called for an independent body to review the potential impacts of damming the Burdekin River catchment.Read more
Turbid water below Burdekin Falls Dam (NQCC field trip, June 2020)
As more information comes to light from feasibility studies into the construction of Hells Gates Dam, it becomes ever clearer that this proposal is not only economically unfeasible but also a significant risk to the health of the Burdekin River and Great Barrier Reef Marine Park - particularly when considered alongside other projects proposed for the river system.Read more
LATEST UPDATES: Burdekin Regional Assessment announced in joint media release (17 May 2023).
The Burdekin Basin supports a range of landscapes and communities, and activities such as agriculture, fishing and recreation.
Numerous dam proposals along the Burdekin could threaten the long-term health of the river, as well as the Ramsar wetlands of Bowling Green Bay and the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.
Urannah Dam, Hells Gates Dam, Big Rocks Weir and the expansion of the Burdekin Falls Dam could together contribute to:
- increased turbidity (dirtiness) of the Burdekin River
- rising water tables (and associated threats to agricultural production) in the Lower Burdekin
- the erosion of Cape Bowling Green due to sediment starvation, and
- increased nutrient flows to the Great Barrier Reef.
We have listed some useful resources on this page.
We aim to raise awareness of the risks associated with multiple, large-scale dam proposals and work with policy-makers, stakeholders and North Queensland communities to ensure the best outcomes for people, industry and the environment. We are working to prevent the Burdekin River from becoming the next Murray-Darling and advocating for an integrated management approach.
- This document was prepared by Dr Eric Wolanski and John Connell, and provides a summary of some of the environmental issues facing the Burdekin Basin, with a focus on the erosion of Cape Bowling Green.
- Check out the Productivity Commission webinar (02/03/2021) on National Water Reform 2020 here.
- Read our submission on the National Water Reform draft report here.
- Read our latest submissions on the Burdekin Falls Dam Raising Project and the Urannah Dam Project here.
- The Terms of Reference for the Environmental Impact Statement for Big Rocks Weir have been released, as of July 2021.
There is no need for the Hells Gates Dam and it makes no sense! When Townsville faced a water crisis several years ago, all sorts of suggestions were made about the best way to secure a water supply for Townsville. The Hells Gates Dam was suggested by many as the way to guarantee water supply for Townsville, but we disagree.Read more