Like what you've read?

On Line Opinion is the only Australian site where you get all sides of the story. We don't
charge, but we need your support. Here�s how you can help.

  • Advertise

    We have a monthly audience of 70,000 and advertising packages from $200 a month.

  • Volunteer

    We always need commissioning editors and sub-editors.

  • Contribute

    Got something to say? Submit an essay.


 The National Forum   Donate   Your Account   On Line Opinion   Forum   Blogs   Polling   About   
On Line Opinion logo ON LINE OPINION - Australia's e-journal of social and political debate

Subscribe!
Subscribe





On Line Opinion is a not-for-profit publication and relies on the generosity of its sponsors, editors and contributors. If you would like to help, contact us.
___________

Syndicate
RSS/XML


RSS 2.0

Queensland water management: sold down the river

By Phil Dickie - posted Tuesday, 15 May 2001


Rogue elements of Queensland's farming and fishing communities seem to have a fairly simple approach to natural resource management - use, grab or destroy as much of the resource as possible while tying the government up with an endless stream of demands for more and better consultation.

Down on the lower Balonne however, where Queensland's one-third share of the Murray Darling Basin slips into New South Wales, the strategy has come suddenly unstuck.

The Queensland government, staggered at the scale of a two year dam building orgy that threatens to completely derail attempts to cap water usage on the river, last month slapped a ban on the bulldozers knocking up dam walls all along the river.

Advertisement

Years of lax interpretations of lax laws has meant that in rural Queensland an outdoor dunny can need more planning permission than a 50,000 mL dam with walls no more than 4.99 metres high.

Around St George and Dirranbandi, cotton growers and water hoarders now have about 40,000 hectares of dams at best four metres deep in an area where the annual evaporation rate is about two metres a year.

More than half of this storage has been shoved up in the last two years in such a way that extensive leakage of the water resource is going to be as much a factor as massive evaporation.

Around a third of all the storage is on just one property, Cubbie station, with enough capacity to more than swallow up Sydney Harbour. Cubbie holds licences which mean that in a good year, even more water than this can be taken from the river, for the total payment to the State of just $3700 a year.

"Effectively, their water is free," said Queensland Natural Resources and Environment Minister, Mr Rod Welford.

For St George Irrigation Area cotton grower Ray Kidd the water is anything but free. He pays about $30,000 a year for his allocation of around 1000 mL from the government's Beardmore Dam, and pays even when the government can't supply the water.

Advertisement

Mr Kidd can be ploughing in his dead crop even when the dam that was built to supply him and other channel farmers is full to overflowing. It is not drought but favouritism bordering on corruption and staggering levels of incompetence that is to blame.

Beardmore Dam was a shallow storage developed in conjunction with the irrigation area. In 1979, the dam was considered "slightly over-committed" and this was before discovery of a "surveying error" which reduced the calculated capacity by about a fifth.

In the late 1980s, the dying National Party government began to entertain the bizarre notion of just giving away additional allocations of the "slightly over-committed" dam's water.

  1. Pages:
  2. Page 1
  3. 2
  4. 3
  5. 4
  6. 5
  7. 6
  8. All

This article was first published in The Brisbane Line, web Newsletter of the Brisbane Institute, on September 13, 2000.



Discuss in our Forums

See what other readers are saying about this article!

Click here to read & post comments.

Share this:
reddit this reddit thisbookmark with del.icio.us Del.icio.usdigg thisseed newsvineSeed NewsvineStumbleUpon StumbleUponsubmit to propellerkwoff it

About the Author

Phil Dickie is editor of The Brisbane Line, Newsletter of The Brisbane Institute. His investigative journalism in the 1980s led to the Fitzgerald Inquiry into corruption in Queensland.

Other articles by this Author

All articles by Phil Dickie
Related Links
Queensland Department of Natural Resources
Article Tools
Comment Comments
Print Printable version
Subscribe Subscribe
Email Email a friend
Latest from The Brisbane Institute
 The pursuit of terrorists post September 11: be afraid, be very afraid
 The politics of country music
 Confronting our water challenge
 Hanging on to paradise
 Taxing Australian federalism
 More...
Advertisement

About Us Search Discuss Feedback Legals Privacy