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Monday, October 15, 2007

Blog Action Day - the Catchment is at risk

I honestly do not know if "Blog Action Day" is a scam, or a good idea which has not really taken off, or what. Several people have asked me. I am going to participate, on the basis that it looks like a nice idea. I usually do write with an environmental theme, anyway. So, what's the harm? I would like to think that the organisers would have lived up to their promise to contact participants, to "verify" their bona fides, (those of the organisers, I mean) - which they have not done - but what the hell? I'll publish my own contribution anyway.

I know David Young has published a participating blog, about the changed quality and quantity of "life forms" in rock pools on the Illawarra coast, where he grew up. And a damned interesting point he has raised about the steady decline in the state of "rock pools" and the coastal environment around Wollongong and Shell Harbour. Have a look at his posting (linked above).

Gaye from the Hunter has also taken up the theme, and published a heart-rendingly honest blog about the personal impact which environmental destruction has had on her. It is a beautiful piece, and deserves to be read and appreciated as widely as possible. Read it, and tell your friends to read it too.

Here is my contribution to Blog Action Day.

A healthy "Upland Swamp" (lower right of photo)
feeds a stream, running to the Avon Dam.
This is how the Sydney Drinking Water Catchment should be.
See below for examples of rivers further down in the catchment.
I want to write about "endangered species", as they exist around Robertson. There are a number of them, especially living out in the Sydney Catchment Authority's "Special Area", north from Kangaloon. The pathetic irony is that these species are endangered by the work of the SCA's own contractors who are preparing to pump the Kangaloon Aquifer, thus risking the future of these endangered species, which are living in what is known as 'groundwater dependent ecosystems" - in other words, take away the water, and you lose the species. Simple, eh? You would think so, - but that is too hard for the SCA to understand.
SCA Drilling Rig,
preparing to pump the Kangaloon Aquifer
And even worse, the SCA is powerless to prevent coal mining from cracking the river beds in the Catchment. The cracking allows pollution to leach out from the mines below, contaminating once pure streams - as may be seen in this photo from the Rivers SOS website.
coal mining causes this pollution in the Catchment
Mining also causes some areas to dry up completely. The SCA estimates that 90% of the catchment will be undermined by coal mines, within 20 years. And they simply "wring their hands". Pathetic.
Map of coal leases under the Nepean, Avon,
Cordeaux and Cataract Dams and the Kangaloon Aquifer.

Recently, there was an "Inquiry into the Southern Coalfields" - and environmental groups all lobbied for mining exclusion zones ("set backs" - from rivers) where coal mining ought be prevented from occurring. The mining companies objected (naturally). The SCA in its presentation, "outlined their concerns", but made no recommendations to the Inquiry for banning or reducing mining under the catchment. Hopeless.

So, my input to this Environmental Blogging day is to recommend that people wake up to the improper use of the Catchment's "Special Areas", where environmental groups, and even such bone fide groups as the Illawarra branch of the "Australasian Native Orchid Society" have been prevented from gaining access to the Special Areas, for legitimate study of endangered species. In particular, they wanted to search for the endangered species Thelymitra kangaloonica (Kangaloon Sun Orchid), which was described from specimens collected at Butler's Swamp, Kangaloon. Their native plant experts were unceremoniously ordered out of the area. Disgraceful. But, at the same time as legitimate plant conservation experts are excluded from the "Special Areas", teams of mining explorers, and water drilling teams are allowed to drive all over the area, planning for activities which all threaten not only the endangered species, but threaten the entire integrity of the catchment, for its principal purpose - safe and reliable catchment of drinking water. It is not just absurd, it is obscene.

Persoonia glaucescens - endangered species
with its best population found in the Kangaloon Aquifer area
so it is threatened by physical disturbance,
as well as pumping of water from the Kangaloon Aquifer.
People of Sydney are being duped by the Sydney Catchment Authority, and the powerful Mining Companies, into believing that the Catchment is safe. It is not.

And the politicians are complicit in these lies, because of the enormous power vested in the hands of the Planning Minister, Frank Sartor, by virtue of Part 3A of the Planning Legislation (EPA Act) in NSW.
Wake Up, Australia. It is time to be counted. Make your voice heard, today.

And even though I am blaming the NSW State Government for this particular problem, and the election is a Federal Election, you can make up your own mind which of the various parties will do the most (or the least) to protect our precious environment (in the largest and most general sense).
So, please make your vote count - for the Environment, on November 24.

1 comment:

Gaye from the Hunter said...

An excellent post, Denis.

and thank you for linking my post.