June 11th 1999
Reply to Lockyer Renewed Water Project Letter
On April 15th of this year we wrote to the Minister for Environment and Natural Resources on our concerns about the Lockyer Renewed water proposal. He replied on the 11th of June. What follows is our letter and the Ministers reply in full
Hon Rod Welford
Minister Environment and Natural Resources
POB 456 Brisbane
Albert St 4002
I am writing to you in relation to the Lockyer renewed water proposal. BREC acknowledges the urgency of water problems in the Lockyer and we support the safe reuse of wastewater. However, we believe that the Lockyer renewed water should have more detailed studies about the technology, it effectiveness and the capability of the environment to absorb the nutrients, toxicants and other contaminants.
BREC believes that the plan in its current form inadequately addresses concerns about salinity, pathogens, trace elements such as copper and potential groundwater pollution. Other renewed water projects have had to do detailed soil capability analysis, groundwater monitoring and modeling. We also believe that the project is to narrowly focussed on one solution for the Lockyer's problems. Any further studies should form part of a coordinated and integrated study aiming to rehabilitate the ecology and economy of the Lockyer. This would build on the studies and plans done, over many years, by catchment groups in the Lockyer.
This broader study could look at other instruments for rehabilitation such as :- measures to reduce water consumption; financing for soil erosion control; payments from catchment revenue bonds; voluntary temporary withdrawal of irrigated land from production with compensation and assistance for construction of value adding facilities to increase on farm income.
I understand that there was some monies were allocated previously for a more detailed feasibility study for the Lockyer renewed water project.
BREC would like you to ensure that this money is put into action in the near future and that the feasibility study includes a full range of other options.
THE MINISTER REPLIES
Your comments regarding further studies into the proposal are noted and I can assure you that such studies have always been part of the overall plan for investigations. At this stage, only a scoping study to identify some of the issues has been completed into the reuse of effluent in both the Lockyer Valley and the Darling Downs.
Extensive investigations of health effects, long term sustainability of irrigating soil with effluent, environmental impacts and benefits and groundwater investigations would be part of any detailed investigation. The studies and investigations required have yet to be determined or initiated at this early stage in the project.
Efficiency of water use in the areas under consideration has already been identified as one of the important and early issues to be investigated. Although other issues you have raised such as soil erosion were not part of the scoping study, if a more detaiIed investigation does proceed, the project will be looked at from a regional perspective and all relevant aspects will be investigated in detail.
Last week I advised my Department that a high level internal Government taskforce should be established to prioritise the issues relating to this proposal.I trust this information clarifies the situation.
Should you have any further inquiries, please contact Mr Robert Drury of my Department of Natural Resources on telephone (07) 3224 2758.
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