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Endangered sighs of relief
November 11, 2009 5:13 PM   Subscribe

A rare living fossil, the Queensland Lungfish can today breathe a sigh of relief. A decision yesterday by the Australian Federal Environment Minister (and Midnight Oil frontman) Peter Garret has rejected the Queensland Government's plans to dam the Mary River for urban water use.

Considered by some legal experts to be the biggest environmental decision in a decade, the rejection of the planned dam was one of only 16 projects rejected out of 3300 proposed.

Not only is the lungfish saved, but other species such as the endangered Mary River Turtle and the poetically named Honey Blue-eyed Fish and the Tusked Frog, as well as the large, striking Mary River Cod. Also saved were the thousands acres of rich agricultural land that is used to feed the fastest growing region in Australia.

There had been strong community action against the dam since its announcement 3 years ago and the decision has been welcomed by many sides of politics. Alternative water resources have already been considered with desalination plants and recycled water on the cards.

And for some the question remains: will there come a time when protecting the habitat of a rare bum-breathing turtle comes at the expense of human habitation?
posted by Kerasia (15 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
Ah yes, the good old Travesty Dam.

And for some the question remains: will there come a time when protecting the habitat of a rare bum-breathing turtle comes at the expense of human habitation?

Things like this irritate me. Humans are habitating quite enough as it stands, thank you. Brisbanites just need to stop watering their fucking driveways.
posted by turgid dahlia at 5:20 PM on November 11, 2009


Yes, they irritate me too. There is this almost joyous belief amongst some folk (like Andrew Fraser) that human expansion can not and should not be constrained and that we will have to fuck good country over some time. It is not my belief.

Many in Australia think our population will and should almost double to 35mil within 40 years. Others disagree. I'm in that clan.
posted by Kerasia at 5:57 PM on November 11, 2009


Brisbanites just need to stop watering their fucking driveways.

I read a great reader comment on an article about this on the ABC news website yesterday - i can't find it now, but it went along these lines:

ABC: Do you agree that this dam should be stopped?
Comment 1: No, we need the water.
Comment 2: South-east Queensland gets 1100mm of rain a year, which means 500,000 litres will fall on a typical suburban property in a year. How much water do you bloody need?
posted by Jimbob at 5:59 PM on November 11, 2009


the Queensland Lungfish can today breathe a sigh of relief

I see what you did there.

There had been strong community action against the dam since its announcement 3 years ago and the decision has been welcomed by many sides of politics.

So if I'm reading things right, the Labor government was for the project while everyone else was against it? The first [more inside] link seems to suggest that basically the whole project was something of a boondoggle since alternative solutions that don't cost more (e.g, building desalinization plants) were/are available. Why did anyone want to go the dam route, then?
posted by axiom at 6:01 PM on November 11, 2009


The age of first breeding is estimated to be 17 years for males and 22 years for females.

Wow. Yay, lungfish!
posted by rtha at 6:50 PM on November 11, 2009


It might not cost more to build a de-sal plant than a dam, but it costs heaps to run them (just to buy the power, add in carbon costs and it will be even worse).

Also, 500,000l is great but it all turns up at the same time. A 500,000l water tank wouldn't leave much room for the barbie or playing cricket.
posted by GeckoDundee at 7:12 PM on November 11, 2009


As mentioned above, the decision is also a reprieve for the Mary River turtle, which is the strangest looking turtle you're likely to see today.
posted by mattliddy at 7:38 PM on November 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


Why did anyone want to go the dam route, then?
It's the obvious question, aye. It was actually one of three dams in the south east Qld region proposed at the time. Another has been approved down near Rathdowney in an area where another dam is never full. It is really difficult to understand political decisions like this where they are made as much for short-term appeasement during the electoral cycle (of the public who don't like water shortages, of the developers who want lots more people in the region, of the contractors who want the work), than they are for long term planning.

Qld thinking can be very backward and narrow. Recycled water like Singapore? Nah, it's shit water. Fix the water transport pipes so they stop leaking? Nah, disrupt too much traffic. Catch stormwater? Nah, too hard to sell to the public. Desal? Yeah! And we can use lots of coal to make the massive amounts of electricity required. Coal equals jobs, yay!

Like I said, all short term.
posted by Kerasia at 8:50 PM on November 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's always nice when things like this are done. But that Peter Garret seems like an odd bird, politically and personally.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 9:01 PM on November 11, 2009


I'm still trying to figure out if Garrett regrets joining the Labor party. I see the point of trying to change an institution from within, and going where the power is rather than standing on the outside shouting... but I can't say his time with them has been a success for the environmental causes he supports.

And eventually Australia is going to have to come around to the idea of recycled water. In Perth the plan for 10 years from now is to recycle it then pump it back into the groundwater aquifers. Which is bizarre - you've got all this nicely cleaned up water, and you're going to put it back where frogs can fuck in it?
posted by harriet vane at 9:16 PM on November 11, 2009


I have an online friend who lives near the Mary and relies on it, whose current mood is jubilant.

(Check out his photographs of the wonderful nature that is all around their glorious pond, and you'd have a good idea why.)
posted by markkraft at 11:49 PM on November 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Thanks for the post. This news was a huge surprise, especially after Garett's pulp mill decision. It proves though that a persistant grass roots campaign can really make a difference. As for the water situation, I still cannot believe the level of opposition to recycled drinking water, although I suppose Queensland probably has by far the least informative media in the western world which doesn't help
posted by moorooka at 1:09 AM on November 12, 2009


My theory is that the Labor party decided they couldn't afford the dam after all, and asked for someone from above to quash it, so it didn't look like they were doing a backflip.

Give QLD's precarious financial predicament, it's certainly one way of saving money without looking like a bad guy. Damn sneaky politicians.
posted by indienial at 1:36 AM on November 12, 2009


I grew up next to the Mary River and I thought the Dam was an interesting idea. Certainly disruptive but I thought it might actually be a positive transformation in the end.

There is a dam nearby called Borumba Dam, which could be a lot smaller than the now cancelled Traveston Dam but I wonder if it is viewed positively or negatively these days.
posted by vicx at 1:41 AM on November 12, 2009


You mean, of course, that "the Queensland Lungfish can today gulp a burp of relief."
posted by clvrmnky at 5:11 AM on November 12, 2009


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