10 Reasons why the Proposed Traveston Crossing Dam
is not an appropriate solution to S E Q’s water problems.
The proposed dam will not help in the current drought. If it does not rain in the
major catchments in 2008,
dam will not be constructed until 2012.
Will it be the saviour for water supply security for the future?
• Current Demand for water is 400,000 megalitres per annum. 1 megalitre
(ML) is 1 million litres - about what an Olympic swimming pool holds
• The Unconstrained Demand for water in the Year 2050 is 930,000
megalitres per annum
• The Government claims that Traveston Stage 1 will provide 70,000
megalitres per year - which is less than 10 % of the unconstrained
demand in the year 2050
• Traveston Stage 2 at 110,000 megalitres per annum is only a marginal
The Deputy Premier, Anna Bligh stated on 30 March that "if the dam has been
built two to three years ago it would be close to full now". Three years before then is
In response to a Question on Notice regarding this specific statement at the
Federal Senate Inquiry
subsequently advised that “if Traveston had been built prior to 2003 … it would
have been at approximately 16% in April 2007”.
This response was based on the case of a dam being built in October 2002
and being full in April 2004, which is quite a head start on the case of a dam
being built in April 2004 which would have started empty. In fact, the dam
would be empty if it was constructed in April 2004.
In a full page newspaper advertisement regarding the Traveston Dam on
Saturday 22 July, Premier Beattie said that cost effectiveness was one of the
factors which the Government based its decision on to proceed with the Traveston
Dam option. The State Government has consistently used the Dam
Options Report prepared by consulting firm GHD as their justification.
The GHD Dam Options report lists the Traveston Dam with a yield (annual
supply) of 215,000 megalitres, a storage volume of 1.1 million megalitres and
a cost of $1bn. The unit cost per megalitre of yield is therefore $4,695. This
puts it fourth on a list of potential dam sites around SEQ.
The truth is that Traveston Stage 1 has a yield of 70,000 megalitres, a storage
volume of 157,000 megalitres and a cost of $1.7bn. The cost per megalitre of
yield is therefore $24,000, making it the most expensive of any option.
An independent report by
of water from the Traveston Dam at between $3.40 and $4.65 per kilolitre
(Stage 1 / Stage 2) and the cost of desalinating sea water at $2.06 to $2.55
per kilolitre (depending on the size of the plant). A kilolitre of water is 1,000
litres (about what a house uses in one day).
supply needs in SEQ. The report found that the water supply needs could be
met by implementing the drought response measures that the Government is
currently working on (less the Traveston Dam) and extending the current
demand management initiatives with a particular emphasis on water smart
Professor White's report found that Traveston Dam is an expensive and unnecessary
Qld Government supply and demand projections, analysed options based on
their cost for each kilolitre of water gained, their capacity to provide drought
relief and their ability to provide longer term water security. The analysis
proved that Traveston Dam is expensive, unhelpful for drought relief and not
needed for the long term water security of the region.
Needless to say, Professor White’s work has been criticised by the State Government
in an unprofessional, misleading and technically flawed response. Professor
White has challenged the State Government to undertake a proper review of both
documents by an independent third party.
The proposed dam is very shallow; however the Queensland Government has
gone to extraordinary lengths to prove that it is not by comparing it with a few
selected dams in the north of the State where there is heavy tropical rainfall.
Anyway you look at it, Traveston is shallow because it is located on alluvial flood
plain, and it will be subject to substantial evaporation and seepage losses, major
problems with aquatic weed infestation, and would destroy forever some of the
best farming land in
One of the first things that the Qld Labor party did when it won office in 1989 was
to scrap the Wolfdene Dam.
Somebody obviously decided that we needed more water 18 years ago. So what
happened after Wolfdene was scrapped?
Henry Palaszczuk, Premier Beattie's Water Minister at the time of the Traveston
decision said (in 1989) that "the cost of desalination of sea water is continuing to
decrease while the cost of acquiring land for dams and the cost of construction is
continuing to increase and that all possible dam sites for future urban water supplies
should be protected now by Government legislation. Anyone proposing to
construct a home in a possible dam area should be informed that the area is such
- a possible dam site" (more about desalination as a footnote to this list).
The Queensland State Government therefore set about purchasing the land for
four smaller dams around SEQ - Borumba and Amamoor Dams in the Mary
Catchment, Wyaralong in the
dams did they build - zero! They waited until a water supply crisis to announce a
completely new and previously unsupported dam at Traveston
The State Government has held up the recently completed Paradise Dam on the
with the proposed dam at Traveston Crossing. But how good is it?
In the late 1990's, the World Bank commissioned an extensive study into the
impact of dam construction world wide and established international guidelines
for the development of new dams if you had to build them.
Five years on from the World Commission on Dams, the World Wildlife Fund
published a report on how countries around the world had faired since 1999. Of
all the hundreds of dams constructed around the world since 1999, the report
picked out six dams for special mention as examples of what not to do.
One of those was the
Paradise Dam, on the
Is this the level of environmental excellence which the Queensland Government
really aspires to? Worse than that, the Paradise Dam is now close to
empty. How can we trust the Government to get it right this time?
The way the Queensland Government proposes to protect endangered fish
species is through a fish ladder. The only problem is that the fish do not know
how to use them and while some fish might survive in a dam, they will not breed
or reproduce. The lungfish for example, needs shallow riffles and pools to breed
- these don't exist in a dam. But do the ladders actually work?
Neoceratodus forsteri - lungfish - a “living fossil”
In 2002, the Queensland Department of Primary Industries (DPI) conducted an
experiment at the Walla Weir on
electronically tagged 1,285 lungfish and monitored their passage through the
fishway 24 hours per day, 7 days per week for a whole year. During that time
only 7 fish (THE MAGNIFICENT 7) successfully navigated the fish ladder. The
comment by DPI at the time was that "the fishlock does not appear to be providing
optimal passage for fish".
On the ABC's 7.30 report on 22 June the Premier stated "It (the fish ladder at
Paradise Dam which is empty!) seems to be working effectively as far as I am
The CEO of
referral notice to the Federal Government under the Federal Environment
Act said “At this stage it is not considered prudent to seek full approval for
Stage 2 as the current planning horizon does not envisage construction for
another 28 years. With rapid changes in technology, population
projections, climate change and assessment requirements, a different
course of action may be considered more appropriate at the time.”
However, in February 2007, the Premier of Queensland publicly
apologised for wrongly saying during the election Campaign that Stage 2
of Traveston Dam would not be needed if recycled water was given the go
ahead. The Premier has stated, “We have to build the dam as it is (ie.
Stage 2). I said what I said, but the reality is that the drought is worse and
I’m sorry but what I said then was wrong”.
So who is right? It would seem that referral of Stage 2 of the proposed
Dam to the Federal Environment Minister is now mandatory to comply with
the objects and intent of the Federal legislation.
• The water which is
currently available on the
needed for future planned
growth on the
water from this area to send
• The SEQ water grid simply delays the inevitable so that we all run out
of water together. Moving water around in a circle does not create
one drop of new water - but it does use vast quantities of power.
• The water grid is dinosaur technology - moving electricity around a
grid makes sense because it does not weigh anything. Water is very
heavy and the cost in moving it large distances around SEQ is
• For example, if 25% of the current demand for water is moved around
the grid, that equates to 100,000 ML (100 million tons). This will
consume vast quantities of power – but it does not produce one drop
of extra water.