State and federal governments, blinded by alarmist reports falsely predicting a dry future, have done very little about flood mitigation – except perhaps from sea-level rise.
Earlier today, the small town of Theodore was evacuated as the Dawson River flooded.
The Dawson River merges with the McKenzie River, forming the Fitzroy River, which flows through Rockhampton and into Keppel Bay – a little to the south of where I now live.
For years locals have wanted the river dammed upstream of Theodore including for the development of irrigated agriculture.
Construction was to be completed in 2005, but the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and the Queensland Conservation Council fought the Commonwealth Government over potential downstream impacts on the Great Barrier Reef and won – and construction never started.
In 2006 the Nathan Dam was identified again as important infrastructure, this time for the Central Queensland Regional Water Supply Strategy, in particular for the mining industry.
Planning for the dam, however, was again interrupted for environmental reasons, in particular the potential impact of the dam on the critically endangered Boggomoss Snail.
Initially the Commonwealth Department of Environment, Water, Heritage, and the Arts mandated a translocation trial to assess the viability of relocating the snail to an alternative habitat – then it was discovered there were many more snails and with a wider geographic range than initially thought.
I am not normally in favor of more dam building, for example, there are already enough dams within the Murray-Darling Basin. And I am against grand schemes to pipe water long distances at great expense, for example from North Queensland to the Murray Darling Basin.
However, Queensland could do with a few more dams particularly dams like the proposed Nathan Dam. The water would be used locally for mining and also to develop a local irrigated agricultural industry. At the moment much of the catchment is grazed, and that has its own environmental impact.
And I wonder if there might not be a net environmental benefit from the dam if it stops the flooding of towns like Theodore and the city of Rockhampton.
How significant are water quality impacts on a body of water, when it flows, for example, through a town like Theodore?
Theodore floods: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-12084735
WWF wins court case against Nathan Dam: http://www.edo.org.au/edoqld/new/nathanwin.pdf
Recent planning for the Nathan Dam: http://www.derm.qld.gov.au/water/infrastr_prg_works/pdf/nathan-dam-qr-aug2010.pdf
And I spoke to these notes in Sydney earlier in the year, about how we live in a land of floods as well as drought, but government was not listening: http://www.htw.com.au/Industry_Presentations/Jennifer-Marohasy-Presentation-Sydney-2010.pdf