Dam Proposal Referred to Federal Government

Submisions on the EIS available

Council of Mayors report released

Call for independant federal enquiry into ALL actions of the Qld Government on the proposal


The Traveston Crossing Dam Proposal was referred to the Federal Environment Minister, (then Mr. Ian Campbell, now Mr Malcolm Turnbull) for consideration under the Federal Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.   The Federal Government has now indicated that it will remain closely involved in monitoring the Environmental Impact Study being conducted by the State Government for the Traveston Crossing Dam proposal to ensure that Federal responsibilities under this act will be properly addressed.
The draft terms of reference for the State-based Environmental Impact Study  were released for public comment in December and comments on these have now been received.  The Terms of Reference for the assessment have been written by the Queensland Coordinator General, (who is also effectively the proponent), but under State and Federal Law, all comments on these terms of reference have to be considered.  
Because the EPBC assessment only looks at very limited and specific issues concerned with biodiversity conservation, it is essential that there is also a thorough independent assessment of the full environmental, social and economic impacts of the proposal and the actions of the State Government.  This may be possible through an independent federal judicial enquiry, or though a senate enquiry.  To achieve an appropriate, full examination of the actions of the Qld State Qovernment , the proponent and the impacts of this proposal, it is essential that citizens request this level of scrutiny from their senators.


Useful information:

 - Here are the SaveTheMaryRiver and community-based submissions on the EPBC referall and the EIS

 - Here is a link to the alternatives study commissioned by the Mary Valley Council of Mayors 

 - Here is a copy of the draft terms of reference

 - Here are some early summary comments on the  Terms of Reference

 - Here is a copy of the Initial Advice Statement to the Coordinator-General concerning the proposal

 - Here is an excellent summary article published by CSIRO on the dam proposal. 

 -Here is a link to 4 short videos which outline some of the major problems relevant to EPBC legislation

 -Here are some suggestions about writing a letter requesting a federal enquiry

 -Here is a contact list of senators

 -Here is the full referral document from QWI (the best summary of the dam project made available to date)

 -Here is the proponent's website

 -Here is Community Futures Website (involved in collecting data on  the social and economic impact)

 -Here is a link to the EPBC Act itself.

 -Here is a link of the EIS Proposal - Flow Chart

What follows is an example letter outlining some of the major points that are relevant to asking for an independant enquiry into the proposal, if you want to write a detailed individualised letter


Notes on requesting a federal enquiry


I refer to the actions of Queensland Water Infrastructure Pty Ltd (QWIPL) and the Queensland State Government with respect to the Proposed Traveston Crossing Dam and the Water Resource Plan for the Mary Basin.

Due to the way the Queensland Government has approached all aspects of the dam proposal, the community has no confidence in the honesty, integrity and transparency of Queensland Government processes. Therefore I submit that there must be an independant process to investigate the actions of the Qld State Government and to assess the full social, economic and environmental impact of this proposal on the people of Queensland 

The communities represented by the Mary River Council of Mayors (500,000 people from Maroochydore to Hervey Bay) expect a totally transparent and public inquiry for the following key reasons: 

It is noted that the Queensland Government has only referred Stage 1 of the proposed dam under the EPBC Act, however it is proposing to build the dam wall to its full height as part of Stage 1 and is now acquiring all the land for both stages 1 and 2. As a result, the referral is fundamentally flawed in that the Queensland Government has only referred Stage 1 of the proposed dam for assessment, when it is clear that the proposal must be assessed in terms of its total and ultimate impact.   The huge social impacts of inundating such a large amount of class 1 agricultural land and the thousands of people and businesses that it supports need to be fully assessed at the first stage of the proposal. The proposal will leave three entire townships upstream of the dam wall living lower than the crest height of the dam.

The proponent, Queensland Water Infrastructure Pty Ltd (QWIPL) and the Queensland State Government are effectively one and the same. QWIPL has only one $1 shareholder (a State Government employee) and the majority of the Directors are Queensland Government employees. Further, QWIPL has been granted State Government powers to progress the proposal.  The possible future non-government  corporate interest in profits resulting from the project casts some doubts as to the validity of the compulary acquisition of land for the project using government powers. The Queensland Government must not be sole assessor of  the impact of this proposal put forward by QWIPL. In effect, this is the proponent self-assessing its own project on behalf of the State and Federal Governments.

The formally appointed Community Reference Panel associated with the development of the Mary Basin Water Resource Plan has advised that they were “profoundly deceived” by the State Government during the formulation of the plan and have publicly withdrawn their support for the process. Subsequent to the Community Reference Panel’s involvement, the Queensland Government made substantial changes between the draft and final Water Resource Plan to accommodate the proposed Traveston Dam without any further consultation. 

Environmental flows in the Mary River will be severely impacted by the proposed dam, with large impacts on the communities along the 200km of river downstream of the dam and surrounding the Great Sandy Straits. References to the maintenance of 85% of mean flows at the river mouth are deliberately misleading as the Mary River is characterized by occasional and extreme flood events which provide most of this flow.  Most of the time the river has low flows that will be severely impacted by the dam. The same State Government hydrological modelling of the dam proposal  that produced this figure also predicts that with the dam in place, the Mary River will cease to flow to the sea for a considerable periods of the time, something which would have occurred  in it's natural state only once in the 110 years of data used to formulate the Water Resource Plan. In addition, the WRP now allows for discretionary interim licences which could allow the dam operator to stop all flows in the Mary River for arbitrary periods of time as the need arises.  

The principal people involved in this project are the same principal people responsible for the design, construction, licensing and operation of  the Paradise Dam on the Burnett River. The water resource, economic and environmental outcomes promised to the people of Queensland from the Paradise Dam have not been delivered, and we do not wish to see the same mistakes repeated on a much larger scale with the Traveston Crossing proposal.

Perhaps the most worrying aspect of all is that the impacts of climate change on streamflows has not been taken into account in the water planning used to justify this dam. If a conservative approach is used, such as suggested to the Federal Government by the Marsden and Jacobs report to the Federal Government in November 2006, then it becomes clear that the proposed dam would not provide anything like the yields used to justify the proposal economically.  In fact, analysis of recorded streamflows suggests that if a dam with the full stage 2 storage capacity had been built in 1997, it would have failed by late 2006, and if a stage one-sized dam had been built in 1997, it would have failed in the 2002 drought. 

For these and many more reasons, it is essential that the proposal is fully examined in an independant forum such as may be provided by an appropriate form of federal enquiry.  Because of the structure of Queensland's parliament, the federal government provides the only layer of independant checks and balances against poor decisions made at the state level in Queensland. It is important that there is an approprate level of federal involvement to protect the rights of the people of Queensland.  

Will you please clearly inform me  whether you will  act to help ensure that these matters are comprehensively and transparently considered through an independant federal enquiry.

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