Photo Credit: Marj Webber
Some 90 participants joined BIEPA’s annual “Wonders of the Wallum” Wildflower Walk on Sunday, 3 September, through heathland at the top of Cotterill Avenue, Bongaree. This event is part of the Sunshine Coast Wildflower Festival, which celebrated its 50th anniversary this year.
We were again blessed with perfect weather and many of the flower species were at their best. The groups of walkers appreciated the knowledge and experience of our guides – Allan Carr from Native Plants Queensland and John Ward from the Bribie Wallum Action Group and Community Nursery. There was also valuable input from Ron Powell and Michael Strong concerning the Aboriginal
history of the area and the significance of the various plants and trees to the first inhabitants. BIEPA would like to thank them all for their contribution to the success of this event.
We were pleased to see that this Walk attracted enthusiasts from outside the local area – including from Maroochydore and the Northern Rivers. We also welcomed some overseas visitors.
From the feedback received, it seemed that everyone had an interesting and enjoyable morning.
We look forward to welcoming you again next year!
Did you know more than 80% of koalas have disappeared from Queensland’s Koala Coast due to excessive tree clearing? BIEPA was shocked too. That’s why BIEPA emailed a KIMBY (Koala In My Back Yard) to the Queensland Government to protect the habitat of koalas and other Australian wildlife.
Will you send one too?
Visit www.wwf.org.au/savekoalas to send yours now!”
BIEPA lodged, on 2nd September 2016, a Submission to the Queensland Government’s Advancing Climate Action in Queensland: Making the transition to a low carbon future discussion paper.
BIEPA was recently contacted by the government and asked if we would agree to having our Submission being made publically available on the Queensland government website.
The Four documents involved are available here in .pdf format, to read/download/print.
The story of the Bribie Borefields goes back almost two decades…….
For ten years before the State Government put out an urgent request for water (2007) at what was to become the break in a ten year drought in South East Queensland, some water engineers in the Caboolture Shire Council (CSC) had been proposing that the Bribie Island aquifers were a source of water that could supply the mainland. However, in their wisdom, the State Government’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had recognized that this proposal was not viable, (environmentally and economically), understanding the unique and fragile ecosystems that maintain Bribie Island’s vegetation and wildlife. For ten years the EPA said “no” to the idea.
Then came the call for anyone who might be able to supply water to top up for dangerously low dams. This was the opportunity for the CSC to jump in the deep end unprepared, touting that they could build the Bribie Borefields for $10 million and supply 10ML/day from Bribie’s aquifers.
The Green Tape was untied and the project was fast tracked without the normal pre-requisites of an Environmental Impact Assessment; baseline studies of surrounding ecosystems; appropriate monitoring sites identified; the economics of the project and without a myriad of other assessments that would normally precede such a project.
BIEPA’s then President, Ian Bell, with his professional expertise in water management and the natural environment, recognized the folly of this proposal, especially the potential for negative impacts on Ramsar protected wetlands. In December 2007, Ian made a presentation to the CSC’s Mayor, Acting CEO, two councillors, engineers and private consultants hired for the project. Ian pointed out the deficiencies in the consultants’ and engineers’ hasty assessments of the location for the borefields, especially the consultants’ inaccurate report that the adjacent lagoons were saline. Ian showed proof that these lagoons were freshwater and the surrounding vegetation and wildlife depended on them. He warned that if the bores were to draw down too far and allow seawater intrusion, all these ecosystems on Bribie Island would be lost as well as compromise the supply of fresh water to the Project.
The CSC persisted with the Bribie Borefields Project and within six months the cost estimates blew out to more than $50 million. Ian took the issue to the Commonwealth, who limited the extraction to 4.3 ML/day & added mandatory monitoring sites to be in place. A Community Reference Group (CRG) was also established as part of the Commonwealth’s conditions for approval, because of the potential impact on adjacent Ramsar protected wetlands. www.ramsar.org/ The CRG monitors and provides regular community input on the Bribie Borefields.
BIEPA and the CRG remained resolute in their demand for transparency and accountability. Eventually the State Govt took over the Bribie Borefields Project as part of their responsibility for the supply of all bulk water. The Project came under the management of Seqwater who were able to ease the community’s concerns with the management of the Project.
The Bribie Borefields have experienced many design defects and have never reached capacity production and have never exported water to the mainland.
Even at the reduced production level, many of the producing bores hit their trigger levels during the dry period at the end of 2013 and had to be shut down. It has been estimated that the Bribie Borefields cost ratepayers in the order of $70 million – some of the most expensive water produced in Australia (more expensive than the Tugun desalination plant).
A recent review of the Bribie Borefields determined that they should be shut down indefinitely.
Sadly, Ian Bell and BIEPA were vilified by some council staff and members of the community for their stance on the long-term viability of the Bribie Borefields Project. Their stance, tenacity, expertise and wisdom has proven to be correct. And, those decision makers in council responsible for this white elephant have moved on and can not be held accountable.
As part of the Project, a pipeline, costing approximately $1 million, was constructed from the Woorim Sewage Treatment Plant to Pacific Harbour in order to supply grey water. This pipeline has never been used.