By Viv Forbes
Almost every river in Eastern Australia is now pouring surplus water into the sea. But only two dams have been built in Queensland in the last 20 years—the Wyaralong Dam, built 13 years ago, and Paradise Dam, built 19 years ago.
Droughts will come again and we will wish for another dam-builder like Joh Bjelke-Petersen, whose government built at least eight dams in Queensland—the Burdekin, Wivenhoe, Hinze, Beardmore, Haig, Fairbairn, Bjelke-Petersen, and Eungella. [emphasis, links added]
But that all came to a halt in 1988 when the plans to build the Wolffdene Dam were scuttled by all the usual suspects.
Taxpayers also spent some $460 million on preliminaries for the Traveston Dam, before the project was scrapped when the infamous Peter Garrett got the Commonwealth to interfere.
Recently it was revealed that the Paradise Dam in the Bundaberg region had faults in the wall, and a new wall would have to be built.
So while our water storages are stagnant or declining, our politicians support dangerously high levels of immigration and promote tourism, games, and circuses, all of which add to the demand for water.
The population clock managed by the Australian Bureau of Statistics tells us that Australia’s population increases by one person every 50 seconds. They all need water.
And some fools want to use more of our precious stored freshwater to produce hydrogen fuels (every ton of hydrogen produced by electrolysis consumes at least nine tons of fresh water); the “green” hydrogen cycle needs lots of water and will always be a net consumer of electricity.
The climate alarmism of Tim Flannery and others resulted in a rash of artificial desalination (desal) plants being built in Australia about 15 years ago; just recently, “state-owned corporation” Hunter Water announced that it was going to spend $530 million on a desalination plant south of Newcastle.
All “desal” plants are costly to build and operate, and many stand idle most of the time.
To let surplus freshwater escape to the oceans and then try to recover it using artificial desalination plants is the ultimate water stupidity; here is our pictorial comment:
Recently, Cyclone Kirrily is demonstrated nature’s power of desalination—sucking moisture from the Pacific Ocean and dumping it on land. This is free freshwater with no costs to taxpayers.
Sensible people have their water storage facilities ready—new dams and weirs built, silt cleaned out, dam walls and overflows checked, and no leaves clogging the tank strainers.
Australia must build more dams for flood mitigation, urban water supply, and irrigation.
Most East Coast rivers have surplus water that races to the sea during floods. It could be conserved.
And it is time to apply our engineering skills toward building the Bradfield water scheme—it will certainly provide better returns to Australians than “green” energy dreams like Snowy 2, or power lines from the Northern Territory to Singapore.
A sensible society would identify the best dam sites and have a long-term plan for acquiring and preserving the land rights needed for them. We do the reverse. Decisions are postponed until the need is critical.
Then landowners with vested interests, “green” busybodies, and media stirrers manage to scare the politicians, and the water conservation proposal is killed.
Then the “No Dams Ever” Mafia takes over, trying to sterilize the site for all future dams by quietly changing land-use or vegetation classifications.
Then they search for (or manufacture) evidence of native title or endangered species and declare national parks over critical areas.
Green destroyers have also grossly mismanaged stored water by insisting on excessive and ill-timed “environmental” flows. This is a scheme where you build a dam to catch water, and then try to manage the water as if the dam did not exist.
It is very slow and expensive to get this lost water back from the sea using the Flannery desalination plants.
Existing dams have two great enemies—silting, which gradually steals their water capacity, and evaporation, which continually steals the water itself.
Our engineers can manage “desilting” and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) could divert resources from climate alarmism to reducing evaporation from water supply dams.
But most of all we need more stored water. The wet La Niña will inevitably be followed by a drought-causing El Niño.
Let’s find a new Joh Bjelke-Petersen who will build more dams.
Viv Forbes is a geologist/pastoralist who has walked along or been flooded by many rivers of Qld and NT. He and his wife have fed starving stock in the droughts and carted water for them. They have built, deepened, or repaired at least 23 farm and station dams, and managed construction and operation of mine dams. When Viv was employed by the Queensland State Government as a field-mapping geologist they inspected the Nathan Gorge Dam site in 1964, some 60 years ago. This dam was first proposed in 1922. It is still undeveloped over 100 years later.