Estimates of river pollutant loads to the Great Barrier Reef lagoon indicate the Fitzroy and Burdekin catchments contribute at least 70 per cent of the anthropogenic total suspended solids load to the Great Barrier Reef lagoon, with grazing lands (gully and hillslope erosion) (45 per cent) and streambank erosion (39 per cent) the main sources.
The same report states that compared to pre-European conditions, mean-annual river loads to the Great Barrier Reef lagoon have increased; 3.2 to 5.5-fold for total suspended solids; two to 5.7-fold for total nitrogen; and 2.5 to 8.9-fold for total phosphorus. The total pesticide load to the Great Barrier Reef lagoon is likely to be considerably larger, given that a total of 34 pesticides have already been detected in the Great Barrier Reef catchments.
Flood water in rivers contains much higher ‘total suspended solids,’ or volume of other debris materials (like soil, plant material, dust, and other particulate material) than normal flow conditions. For example, the transitory TSS for an Adani infringement notice due to a controlled release in high rains at a monitoring point was 58 mg/L when the maximum limit of total suspended solids allowed in a flood water release under the Port’s Environmental Authority is 30 mg/L. But this is a fraction of the levels usually found in natural flood events.
The research shows that the dominant sediment supply to many rivers in the Great Barrier Reef catchment is from a combination of gully and streambank erosion, and subsoil erosion from hillslope rilling.
The cumulative effects of flooding of Queensland Rives may have reduced coral growth by 50%. A Bradfield Scheme would reduce total flows by capturing some of the flood water and redirecting inland to provide irrigation, town and mine water supplies. The capture and redirection of flood water would reduce the overall sediment discharge and potentially help to maintain the health of the Great Barrier Reef.
The approval of the massive Adani (Carmichael Coal) Mine has been delayed by ongoing concerns with the groundwater plan. What if the mine did not have to use groundwater at all, but drew water from massive storages created nearby at Lake Buchanan and Lake Galilee? The unused salt lakes perched on the Great Dividing Range could be filled with flood water from an aqueduct to Hells Gate Dam on the headwaters of the Burdekin River.
Low-cost gravitational flow is viable, as it is downhill from all the way from the headwaters of the Burdekin, providing Hells Gate Dam is built to a sufficient height.
Not only Adani, but 5 mines have been approved for the Galilee Coal Basin (see image). Are they going to run into the same water sourcing problems too? A Galilee pipeline should be constructed to pipe water east from the two storages and so mitigate the environmental impact of these mines on ground and surface waters.
The mines in the Bowen Basin draw water from the Burdekin Falls Dam via a pipeline – why not build the same river saving infrastructure for the Galilee Basin?
In addition, the storages could also be used for town water supply and irrigation of the fertile Mitchell Grass Downs to the west of the Great Dividing Range. Use a renewable supply of flood waters and leave the limited groundwater source alone.
Renewable hydropower generation is also possible at and between Lake Buchanan and Lake Galilee, as well as locations along the aqueduct route. The power generated could be sold to the mines, generating carbon-free revenue.
The Morrison government will try to lure skilled migrants away from the nation’s choked cities with a new visa requiring them to spend at least three years in regional Australia as a condition of seeking permanent residency.
Under proposed changes, backpackers will now be able to stay with agricultural employers beyond six months and will be able to triple the length of their stay if they do extra agricultural work. This is a move which is aimed at rural Australia and farmers specifically.
The Bradfield Scheme would dramatically boost agricultural production in rural Australia up to $50 billion per annum.
Creating a network of dams and pipelines in outback Australia would help reverse the population drift to the major coastal cities. Towns would develop to service new agricultural activities. Transport and tourism would follow, with the necessary transport infrastructure being developed. This would encourage greater travel through, and more settlement in, the great Australian outback.
The One Nation ‘hybrid’ Bradfield Scheme is a Clayton’s Bradfield Scheme – the Bradfield Scheme you are having when you are not having a Bradfield Scheme.
One Nation committed in January 2017 to a ‘hybrid’ Bradfield Scheme approach to water security to drought-proof the State and made a number of public statements and a members bill mentioning Bradfield. A Bradfield Scheme must, by definition surely, include the transfer of water from coastal rivers across the Great Dividing Range in order to benefit inland areas. It may optionally include transporting water to the Murray-Darling Basin. But the building of a scheme to transfer of water inland or to the MDB is not mentioned in the list of projects on the PHON water policy webpage.
One Nation will:
1. Support the Commonwealth in building additional capacity on the Burdekin catchment through raising the Burdekin Falls Dam supporting Townsville and the Galilee and Bowen Basins mining operations and Lower Burdekin irrigation.
2. Support the selection of storage options in the Fitzroy catchment.
3. Urgently examine the opportunities for dam level raising in the south-east.
4. Cost the Nathan Dam and pipelines project for water security for mining, power, urban and agriculture users in the Surat Coal Basin and Dawson-Callide region.
A scheme generating the agricultural revenue of the Murray-Darling Basin, the renewable power of the Snowy Mountains Scheme, flood water control to save the Reef, and mitigation of flood damage to environmental, personal and public assets is highly desirable. Due to situational and environmental constraints, water conveyance may be the most practical way for Queensland to increase land under irrigation profitably. A gravitational Bradfield Scheme is the inevitable outcome of a development process that puts the priority on reduction of carbon emissions, conservation of the environment, and sustainable development.
This was my first go at finding a viable gravity-only route from a coastal river to the inland catchments. Gravity-feed is so important for keeping the cost of the water down. In this case, it flows into the Cooper Creek in the Galilee Basin that feeds into Lake Eyre from the Burdekin River at Hell’s Gate. This route goes via Lake Bradfield, currently a salt lake, which could serve as a temporary storage (about 14,000GL) and feed east to Adani Mine or other parts of the Bowen Basin, south to Lake Galilee and west to Muttaburra.
Soon I will get an actual route from Leon. I used http://plotaroute.com to develop a kml file of the route line, opened the kml file in Google Earth Pro (free) and captured the video with Fraps (Pro).
Note that Leon’s design is an integrated pipeline and levy. The levy would pick up fairly substantial flows along the way from the Cape River and the Campaspe River as well before it goes around the Thalanga Mine or Campaspe to head north up to the Basalt River. It gets a bit rough from there to Hell’s Gates and would need careful route planning, but even if it stops short at the Basalt River, Leon estimates it could catch and deliver maybe 2,000 – 3,000 GL or so per year to Aramac & Adani within 12 months. It then can later be connected to Hell’s Gate and deliver an extra 8,000 GL or so, then with the Herbert and Tully rivers add in another 3,000 GL or so.
The agricultural production alone from the irrigation of 2,000 km2 of land around Aramac and Muttaburra could be about $2 billion in produce per year. This plan has the benefits of lower cost (~$8 billion), and staged implementation without requiring the building of Hell’s Gate Dam.
COMING SOON: The 80 year old Bradfield scheme is a proposed world-class inland irrigation project that was designed to irrigate and drought-proof much of the north and western Queensland interior. The Scheme required large pipes, tunnels, and dams from the upper reaches of the Tully, Herbert and Burdekin rivers to feed the Thompson and Flinders rivers. Interest in the scheme has persisted in minor political parties, but studies have dismissed it as lacking in scientific justification, excessively expensive, and overly optimistic. Leon Ashby, with a history of broadacre irrigation and innovation, has solved the central problems in the original scheme and extended it to two larger schemes with much greater efficiencies and beneficial environmental impacts. Ashby’s plan is for an entirely gravity fed system, obviated the need for pumping water, harvesting flood flows and providing many additional irrigation dams en route. This would be achieved by siting high in the catchment an innovative 2000km contiguous aqueduct that would move the water gently from the highest dams at 800m elevation, over and through the Great Dividing Range plateau to dams at around 200m elevation in the central west. The holding capacity is expected to be 60,000 GigaL or three times the size of the Murray Darling Irrigation scheme. This would provide 30,000 GL per annum to irrigate approx 30,000 km2 of land, more than doubling the size of irrigated land in Australia. In addition the scheme has the ability to generate GWs of power, control and reduce the flooding flow of coastal rivers, and may reduce coral bleaching, excess nutrients and silt to the Great Barrier Reef from coastal farming and development. Along with other innovations from new technology, this would enable the realisation of the original Bradfield Scheme of opening up large swathes of fertile soil in central and western Queensland for fodder crops, cotton, and horticultural enterprises of all types, providing an estimated additional $50 billion dollars per annum to the Australian economy, along with jobs, revitalisation of rural communities, elimination of the droughts and flooding rains and creation of a world class irrigation scheme for rural Queensland.