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Coal and Water

If we are to survive, let alone feel at home, 
we must begin to understand our country. 
If we succeed, one day we might become Australian. 
                              - Bill Gammage

ECORADIO 4ZZZ fm 102.1 Tuesdays at Noon

Eco Radio explores some of the strategies at the forefront of the move toward sustainability and keeps you updated on what’s going on in your community and how you can be involved. Listen on demand at http://www.4zzzfm.org.au/program/eco-radio

Today we hear some of the effects the coal mining industry is having on our water usage – from the Latrobe Valley in Victoria to southern Sydney’s water catchment, locals are having to fight governments and the fossil fuel industry to protect the water we need for life.

We speak with scientist Peter Dupen about the call to stop mining in the Woronara water catchment and Tracey Anton from Friends of Latrobe Water.

A coalition of scientists is calling on Premier Gladys Berejiklian to halt coal mining in Greater Sydney’s water catchment.

We the undersigned write as concerned academic researchers and scientists to urge an ongoing suspension of the approval processes for any further planning applications or post-approval plans (Subsidence Management Plans and Extraction Plans) for mining in the Schedule 1 Special Areas of the Sydney Drinking Water Catchment. A summary of our reasons for seeking a suspension of mining approvals is attached.

Disappearing creeks, bulging valleys, a shifting dam wall and a lack of monitoring are among the reasons to halt the mining.

Worona Water Catchment, west of Sydney

Playlist

MARY MCPARTLAN – Black waters

THE LURKERS – Who’s got a padlock and chain?

ANCESTRESS – Air Water Land

ALNAHKO AND MEDICINE FOR THE PEOPLE – Honor the earth

YOTHU YINDI – Mabo

One response to “Coal and Water

  1. Open Letter to the Premier of NSW

    Open Letter to the Premier of NSW Regarding Coal Mining in the Schedule 1 Special Areas of the Sydney Drinking Water Catchment

    Dear Premier,

    We the undersigned write as concerned academic researchers and scientists to urge an ongoing suspension of the approval processes for any further planning applications or post-approval plans (Subsidence Management Plans and Extraction Plans) for mining in the Schedule 1 Special Areas of the Sydney Drinking Water Catchment. A summary of our reasons for seeking a suspension of mining approvals is attached.

    The suspension of approvals should include new projects, the next stage of existing projects and project modifications, and should include proposals and plans currently under consideration. The suspension should remain in place until the now long recognised deficiencies and inadequacies in data gathering and reporting, alert triggers, data and information access, modelling, knowledge and understanding are comprehensively addressed. The suspension should remain in place until the cumulative impacts and consequences of mining to date can be reliably assessed and quantified with a high degree of scientific confidence. The suspension should remain in place until predictive estimates of the compounding effects of new mining proposals can be made with a high degree of scientific confidence.

    In part our letter is compelled by the reports of the Independent Expert Panel for Mining in the Catchment (IEPMC). Adding to those provided to the government since at least 2007, the IEPMC reports reaffirm that the long known and ongoing inadequacies are such that it is not possible to reliably estimate the extent and, accordingly, significance of water losses and water contamination caused by mining in and around the Metropolitan and Woronora Special Areas.

    The 2008 Southern Coalfield Inquiry report points out that “The single most important land use in the Southern Coalfield is as water catchment.” The importance of accordingly protecting the Special Areas, which lie within the Southern Coalfield, has been emphasised by the recent drought, with low reservoir levels and revelations of high metal contamination levels in the deeper waters of the reservoirs. Among other impact and consequence concerns, the attached summary points to a drinking water loss rate of between 8 and 25 million litres a day as a consequence of mining the Special Areas. Unlikely to be lower, the loss rate could be greater than the range suggested by the available information.

    We further encourage the Government to undertake planning for the phase-out of mining in the Metropolitan and Woronora Special Areas. We note that while these areas have been degraded by mining, they still contain some of the few areas of pristine bushland left in NSW. With just two mines currently active, phase out with no further approvals would seem timely.

    Please note that this letter, its concerns and recommendation, reflect our personal views as scientists with expertise in hydrology, chemistry, geology and Earth science, environmental and ecosystem science, and public health. The letter is not intended to reflect or represent the institutions and organisations for which we work or are otherwise associated.
    Sincerely,
    Prof. Allan Chivas Prof. Simon Chapman Assoc. Prof. Timothy Cohen
    Assoc. Prof. Matthew Currell Assoc. Prof. Mark Diesendorf Mr. Pete Dupen
    Assoc. Prof. Jason Evans Dr. Nicolas Flament Prof. Melissa Haswell
    Prof. Grant Hose Prof. Lesley Hughes Prof. Stuart Khan
    Dr. Tanya Mason Prof. Graciela Metternicht Assoc. Prof. Scott Mooney
    Assoc. Prof. Gavin Mudd Assoc. Prof. Patrice Rey Dr. Peter Turner
    Dr. Floris Vanogtrop Prof. David Waite Dr. Ian Wright
    18/5/20

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