NPAQ has recently launched a free guide booklet called Getting Kids into National Parks to help us get our youth connected to the natural world and inspire stewardship of the environment for the future.
The booklet can be downloaded at http://www.npaq.org.au/latest-news/getting-kids-into-national-parks
NPAQ wonders if your group would be interested in helping us to spread the word about this free downloadable publication by sharing with your friends, providing a link on your website, social media, newsletters etc.
We also have a very small print run of these booklets, so if you would like some physical copies to distribute, please contact our office and speak to Anna Tran or alternatively you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Your support would be much appreciated.
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.
Click here to read this months Featured Article written by Gordon Weiss of the Global Mail on 5th Oct 2012.
It is estimated that the world produces one inch (2.54 cm) of topsoil every 500 years, and loses 2.54 cm every 1,000 years or so, to erosion. So until recently Mother Nature experienced a net soil gain of one inch per millennium.
However human activity, it seems, is now outstripping nature’s ability to replenish the earth’s thin skin. One estimate is that we are now losing 2.54 cm every 40 years or so.
Bribie Island has an increasing number of 4WDs on the beach. We also have one of the world’s last remaining Loggerhead turtle breeding grounds.
Only one will survive.
Which would we rather have?
Reliable data from the Qld Dept of National Parks, Recreation, Sport and Racing show that on some days, more than 700 4WD vehicles drive on the ocean beach on Bribie Island. Evidence given by some of these drivers who have been doing this responsibly for many years suggests that a growing number are hooning, causing major environmental damage to this pristine environment. This is not acceptable under any standards and a government that fails to act to stop this destruction is both culpable and irresponsible.
This idyllic scene is being irrevocably eradicated by the growing number of 4WD vehicles on the beach. Between October and March every year, Bribie Islanders witness the birth and migration to the sea of thousands of baby loggerhead turtles. Only a few survive the migration (due to natural events) but NONE will survive the 4WD carnage.
Note: since this article appeared on this website, ABC TV’s Catalyst ran this program http://www.abc.net.au/catalyst/stories/3583576.htm
Click here to read this months Featured Article written by Matthew Carmichael.
This essay was a runner-up in the annual Ecologist/Coady International Institute essay competition.