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Sunday, February 25, 2007

SCA's breathtaking arrogance revealed.

The Save Water Alliance meeting in Bowral on 24 February went well, with over 300 people present to hear about moves to prevent the Sydney Catchment Authority from pumping from the Southern Highlands (Kangaloon) Aquifer. Amongst the VIPs present at the meeting was Ms Pru Goward, Liberal Party candidate for Goulburn in the forthcoming NSW elections, and Mr Paul Stephenson, Mayor of Goulburn, and an independent candidate for the seat of Goulburn.

The Sydney Catchment Authority reported that they had approached the Federal Department of Environment and Water Resources and proposed a one month test pumping program. The Federal Department concurred in that suggestion. See advice from the Department at Attachment A.

Astonishingly, with that limited approval having been given by the Federal Department, the Catchment Authority then issued a press release (Attachment B) in which they announced that they will commence pumping for 6 months. They claim that “detailed information will be gathered after the pumping has been underway for one month, and provided to the Federal Department of Environment and Water Resources.” However, elsewhere, in correspondence, they make it clear that the reporting will not take place until some time in April. Meanwhile, pumping will continue from the Kangaloon Aquifer.

Their arrogance is overwhelming. The NSW Government is totally disregarding the Federal Environment Minister’s legitimate legal role in this matter, under the Federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

Mr Turnbull is empowered by Federal law to make a decision on this most important matter, and has the power to deem that it is a “Controlled Action”, but the SCA have conned Mr Turnbull’s Department. They are treating the Federal Authorities like fools – and worse, were doing so in a public forum.

How can the SCA justify announcing that they will pump for 6 months, on the very same day that the Federal Department has permitted them to pump for one month? At the very least, proper scientific processes ought to be followed. That is, if they record pumping drawdowns for 1 month, then they need recovery data for 1 month. That might constitute a proper test. But the SCA do not intend to allow any time for the borefield to recharge. They have already announced that they will be pumping for 6 months.

The SCA would surely not disregard the legitimate authority of Mr Turnbull in this matter, unless they were fully confident that they have the backing of Mr Debus, the NSW Environment Minister. It is breathtaking arrogance.

Denis Wilson.
Environmental Consultant to the SWA

25 February 2006

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