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Monday, June 05, 2006

Kangaloon Aquifer and other "Deep Water" aquifers

I received this progress report from Mr Jonathan Bell, on recent lobbying activities in relation to the Kangaloon Aquifer. Obviously the future of the Kangaloon Aquifer is being merged into discussions relating to other "deep water" Aquifers in the Sydney Region - which seems to make sense. They are all in similar situations, geophysically, as well as politically.
This Progress Report is published here, with the knowledge and support of Mr Bell.
"The Nature of Robertson" wishes Mr Bell and his Taskforce the very best with its lobbying activities.

Denis Wilson

Sydney Water Catchment Taskforce

Deep Water Aquifers
Progress Report:

I report that the Taskforce continues to encourage Local Government Councils, in areas affected by the proposal to plunder the aquifers to provide Sydney with domestic and industrial water, to support Wingecarribee Shire Council and NSW Farmers Association in seeking to establish a broad based community alliance in the form of an Independent Aquifer Advisory Committee (IAAC) for the purposes of:

Obtaining a financial grant from the NSW government to enable the IAAC to retain an experienced and appropriately qualified independent hydrologist (and other like experts as may be properly required) to confirm: the extent and capacity of the aquifer/s; the source/s of the water that replenishes the aquifer/s; the ability of the aquifers to meet the demands that the Iemma government is proposing to place upon them; the possible and probable effects likely to be caused to the aquifer/s and the traditional users of water extracted there from; the possible and probable effects likely to be caused to the ecology of the region generally if the Iemma government's proposal is allowed to go ahead.

Independently running the ruler over the workings of Minister Debus' Community Reference Groups (CRG's) currently being constituted by him to participate in a community consultative process proposed by the government. NOTE: It is proposed by Minister Debus to constitute a CRG for the Leonay area and another CRG for the Southern Highlands area. NSW Farmers Association has been promised a seat on both these proposed CRG's. At present, subject to the views of the Taskforce, it is proposed that Ed Biel will represent the Association on the Leonay CRG and that I will represent the Association on the Southern Highlands CRG.

In the event that the expert scientific advice is to the effect that the aforesaid proposal by the Iemma government is not soundly based, to make a submission to government to reverse the decision proposed.

As you know, on 10th May 2006 President of NSW Farmers Association, Jock Laurie, met with Mayor Gordon Lewis, Mayor of Wingecarribee Shire Council, in Moss Vale when Mayor Lewis agreed to seek his Council's support for the calling of a meeting of representatives of all Local Government Councils affected by the aquifer proposal for the purposes of discussing, and if thought fit, forming the IAAC. I note that Wingecarribee Shire Council has now agreed to support the initiative

On 17th May 2006 I met in Goulburn with Mayor Paul Stephenson, Mayor of Goulburn Mulwaree Shire Council, to seek his Council's support for the forming of the IAAC for the purposes abovementioned. Mayor Stephenson assured me that his Council is very concerned by the aquifer proposal and will give full support to the IAAC initiative.

On 25th May 2006 Ed Biel and I met in Picton with Mayor Philip Costa, Mayor of Wollondilly Shire Council, for the same purpose and again have been promised very strong support. Indeed Mayor Costa, as matter of some urgency, arranged for me to address a meeting of the Local Government Advisory Group (LGAG) on the issue. LGAG were to meet in Windsor the following day. NOTE: As you may be aware, the Hawkesbury Nepean Catchment Management Authority (CMA) is the relevant CMA for the Sydney Water Catchment. As mentioned previously, it shares this responsibility with the Sydney Catchment Authority (SCA).

The CMA has constituted a sub-group, namely, LGAG. LGAG comprises representatives of all the elected Local Government Councils within the CMA's vast catchment area and is, as you can imagine, a very representative, powerful, and well informed group.

For obvious reasons, to have the opportunity to address LGAG was an occasion not to be missed.

Accordingly, Ed Biel and I travelled together to Windsor on 26th May 2006. The Chairman of LGAG Cr. Robert Bell (no relation to me), the former Mayor of Gosford City Council, welcomed us to the meeting most cordially and secured the consent of the meeting to bring our agenda item forward to enable me to address the meeting as a matter of priority.

We received a most attentive hearing and from the lengthy discussion and numerous questions that followed, it appears that all Council's will strongly support Mayor Lewis' initiative of calling a meeting of representatives of Local Government Councils affected by the aquifer proposal for the purposes of setting up IAAC. Further, LGAG unanimously passed a resolution to the effect that, at the meeting to be called by Mayor Lewis, it be proposed, inter alia, that the IAAC be formed (for the purposes aforesaid) as a special sub-committee of LGAG with NSW Farmers Association to be represented thereon. LGAG is of the view that the necessary funding to retain the services of the necessary expert advisors will be more readily obtained if the CMA is involved.

Invitations will shortly be sent out by Mayor Lewis to the Mayors of all the Councils affected by the proposal, inviting them to attend a meeting to consider and agree, if thought fit, to forthwith constitute the IAAC for the abovementioned purposes.

Jonathan Bell, Taskforce Chairman.

30th May 2006.

1 comment:

Miss Eagle said...

Glad to hear about community alliances being formed. However, should mention the cynicism of Miss Eagle about farmers. Miss Eagle doesn't have a universal trust for farmers on the subject of water. Now Miss Eagle knows that there are farmers and farmers and a lot of lessons are being learned about farming practices. But farmers have been major players in the Murray-Darling salinity problem. It is farmers and their irrigation allowances that are forming the basis of trade in water or the development of "markets" for water of which Australians - certainly those in urban centres - seem to be generally unaware. There are all the nuances of the "property rights" debate - again a topic of which urban Australians are largely unaware. And, Miss Eagle believes that if farmers were ever stuck for water they would plunder the aquifer just like Sydney wants to. Now Miss Eagle is all for the farmers putting their point of view. It is just that she wants to see it balanced with other views based on broad community interests and environmental concerns. Certainly, Miss Eagle would hate to see farming interests co-opting their local communities for their own ends so that the debate is polarised to farmers -v- the NSW Govt.