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Sunday, February 26, 2006

The Kangaloon Aquifer must not be drained

The Kangaloon Aquifer must not be allowed to be drained.

To drain the Kangaloon Aquifer, as has been proposed by Mr Iemma, would threaten the entire character of the Southern Highlands, and its economic viability.

His statement that the Kangaloon Aquifer could be drained and that it would refill within 5 years is “Voodoo Science”. In its simplistic stupidity it is insulting to the electorate. Worse, it is dangerous nonsense.

Photo: Mr Iemma - from the NSW Parliamentary Website.

Draining an aquifer would be analogous to pulling the plug from the bottom of a bathtub - there is plenty of water at the bottom for a relatively long time, but the level of the water at the top drops immediately.

Draining the Kangaloon Aquifer would mean that the level of water in bores which local farmers use would start to drop. How can dairy farmers run their businesses without water for their cattle?

The springs in the hillsides around Robertson are fed by groundwater. If the springs were to go dry, the very existence of the ancient forests would be threatened. The green hills of Kangaloon (pictured, from Tourist Road) would be at risk.

The largest and most “productive” aquifer in the USA is the Edwards Aquifer. It has been established that if that aquifer is drained below 90 - 95% of its maximum capacity, the springs start to dry up. That means, that only 5 to 10% of the water in that aquifer can be “tapped” before environmental impacts start occurring. I acknowledge that not all aquifers are the same - it depends upon the rock types in the local area, and the volume of water, etc, etc. However, this is not just my personal nightmare. I am reporting factual overseas experience. At the very least it warrants independent research (not just a few test bore pumpings by the Sydney Catchment Authority). It also warrants public debate.

On the issue of how fast an aquifer can refill, let me just point out that the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation has tested the ground water in the Sydney Basin already. They estimate that, on average, the water at 200 metres depth in the rock is 1000 years old. How can Mr Iemma be allowed to peddle dangerous nonsense about the Kangaloon Aquifer refilling in 5 years.

And, anyway 5 years is a long time between drinks for a dairy cow, or an ancient tree with its roots in soil which has been kept moist all of its life by a “permanent spring”.
Photo: the future of Kangaloon?

If 5 years is a long time, 998 years is a “bloody-sight longer” to wait for a drink.

I have written about this issue before. If you wish more background on Mr Iemma’s proposal, please check my bulletins of 13 February and 25 February.


Anonymous said...

Denis, might all this talk about underwater reserves of water be a distraction tactic to make us forget the de-salination disaster and the $120 million of our taxes that he wasted on that ridiculous endeavour?

Denis Wilson said...

It has been seen a way of "letting the G'ovt off the hook" re the Desal plant.
If anything, it makes them more committed to pressing ahead with the Aquifer, to ensure that they do not have to take the unpopular option of the Desal plant.
Anything, anything other than tell Sydney to not waste water!
Meanwhile Goulburn has been on Level 5 restrictions for about 18 months.