I have long been a supporter of ecologically sustainable development. To maintain the ecological conditions in which species and humans can survive is the foundation for ensuring that every creature lives on despite an ecosystem where thousands cease to exist annually.
What we look for in ecologically sustainable development are tolerances in connection with the environment. This often requires evaluating a set of conditions that are natural. We observe, assess and collect data that allows us to capture averages and extremes and how they impact lifecycles. This information can include isothermality, temperature and precipitation distributions. Species data will be used to determine environmental conditions and how a species can persist. And while our estimates cannot be considered absolute, they give us adequate localized information that can be effectively applied to an entire planet.
Once we have a set of effective conditions, the data can be used to build mathematical models of an environment’s tolerances. While there are many approaches to this, the end result will be a set of points in environmental space based on data culled from points in geographic space.
It is a complicated process, but an important one. I — and others like me — are designing algorithms to estimate tolerances and use these results to make geographic determinations of environmental variables. This gives us a greater idea of sustainability across geographic space.
Of course, the science behind ecological sustainable development cannot be fully introduced in the space allowed here. There are concepts and methodological issues that require extensive study. I myself have a Ph.D. in Ecosystem Dynamics. I have worked with the WHO, Parks and Wildlife, Land and Natural Resources services, as well as the San Diego Supercomputer Center at the University of California San Diego. Through grants from the DOT, USGS and NSF, I was involved in the development of data and computational modeling infrastructures.
My contributions to the academic field have been recognized by the US Immigration Service as an Outstanding Researcher. I am the writer of several articles, including The Future is not Green, but Grey, Suing the Sceptics and the author of Niche Modeling: Predictions from Statistical Distributions. You can find my list of peer reviewed publications here.
While understanding ecological sustainability may not be for everyone, I do believe it is important that we all know how vital it is to the sustainability of our ecosystems and species.
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.
Our nation would create a massive expansion for irrigation, providing a substantial increase in wealth and vital economic stimulus for far western towns including Augathella, Charleville, Cunnamulla and Bourke. Additionally this would also provide the vital water for Menindee Lakes and lower lakes in South Australia. It would find a solution to the impossible equation we’re trying to solve now, of where do you get water when you have none.
OPINION: Australia needs the Bradfield scheme
Barnaby Joyce is an Australian politician who served as the leader of the National Party from February 2016 to February 2018, and was Deputy Prime Minister of Australia from February 2016 to October 2017 and from December 2017 to February 2018.
A recent study published in Nature Ecology and Evolution journal provides support for better control over flood flows such as would be captured by the New Bradfield Scheme and redirected to storage dams inland. Flood flows carry debris, sediments, nutrients, and other pollutants into the coastal regions – and add further stress to the Great Barrier Reef. Improving local water quality may help some reefs better withstand the bleaching impacts of climate change.
Using a composite water quality index, we find that while reefs exposed to poor water quality are more resistant to coral bleaching, they recover from disturbance more slowly and are more susceptible to outbreaks of crown-of-thorns starfish and coral disease—with a net negative impact on recovery and long-term hard coral cover.
See Dirty water biggest risk to reef recovery in the Australian.
Water quality mediates resilience on the Great Barrier Reef
Sir Leo Hielscher and Sir Frank Moore have updated the Bradfield Scheme, originally conceived in the 1930s by the man who designed the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The proposal calls for a series of dams, pipelines and irrigation channels across Queensland, aimed at opening up vast areas of the state to agriculture and hydroelectric power creation.
Retiring at age 83, after 68 years in the public service, Sir Leo made an “unrivalled contribution to Queensland” since he took a job with the state audit office in 1942, aged 15. He established Gladstone as an industrial and resources hub, negotiated key contracts with mining companies to secure royalties for taxpayers, facilitated the development of Griffith University, Queensland’s casino industry and two coal terminals, and established the Queensland Treasury Corporation. He developed and fully funded the state’s long-term superannuation and employee liabilities, and he drove the planning, financing and construction of the first Gateway bridge in the early 1980s. As a tribute to his services, the dual Gateway bridges were re-named as the Sir Leo Hielscher bridges.
Sir Thomas Moore is an Australian businessman noted for his long-term promotion of the Australian tourism industry in Queensland. He was chair of the Queensland Tourist and Travel Corporation Corporation 1978-90, during which time he spearheaded the creation of international airports in Townsville and Cairns. He was chair of the Australian Tourism Industry Association 1984-96, and also chair of the Australian Tourism Research Institute. Moore oversaw the development of the Cooperative Research Centre for Sustainable Tourism and was chair of the Centre 1997-2007. He has also served as chair of the Federal Government’s Tourism Forecasting Council, Nature Resorts Limited, Advent Tourism Fund Management Ltd and Great Southern Railway. He was a founding director of Jupiters Limited, a Director of Gold Coast Airport Corporation and a member of the World Travel and Tourism Council.[
In this TEDx talk Sir Leo reflects on the financing of large scale developments that drove the Queensland economy forward from 1926 to 2016, and advises students of the importance of ‘thinking outside the square’ for personal growth and development leading to success.
It’s so much fun thinking about the New Bradfield Scheme, as it raises as many solutions as it does problems. Water, for a drought-prone nation like ours, is a precious resource. The Adani Coal Mine between Clermont and Charters Towers has been the subject of numerous water-based objections by the Greens, for example:
The mines current water licence allows the mining giant unlimited access to groundwater for 60 years.
One of the world’s last unspoiled desert oases at Doongmabulla Springs could permanently dry up under Adani’s plan to use billions of litres of groundwater.
A plan to use another 10 GigaL per year of water for its mine out of the Suttor River through a new, 61km pipeline in addition to their current water licence.
Less that 60km away lies a component of the New Bradfield Scheme, the Lake Buchanan salt lake (see image), with the potential for 14,440 GL of storage. The idea is that Lake Buchanan storage (once linked up the the infeed from the Hell’s Gate Dam flood flows, which in turn obtains a continuous infeed from the Tully River) could provide Adani Mine with the water it needs for the same price without compromising natural surface flows. Gravity feed is possible as Lake Buchanan elevation is at 300m and Adani mine is 240m. This is a win-win.
The dam and aqueduct developed by Adani could in turn be extended further into the Galilee Coal Basin to supply new mines such as the Hancock PL mine at Alpha.
It remains to be determined if the aqueduct could be extended via gravity feed to existing mines in the Bowen Basin in the east due to elevation limitations, much of which is around 300m. Nevertheless, the New Bradfield Scheme could potentially find customers in new and existing coal mines, who would help to finance the capital costs of development while subsidising the agricultural users en route, and protecting the natural surface and ground water.
At the end of the mines’ life, Australia would have a permanent water infrastructure based around a renewable resource, water, in exchange for the extraction of the limited resource, coal.
In Queensland, CSIRO have identified the Mitchell catchment (yellow area above) as the greatest potential to increase greenfield development opportunities in Northern Australia, and the coastal regions of the Fitzroy and Burdekin River catchments for enhancements. However, developments in these would do nothing for the water poor, rich soil areas of Clermont, Richmond, Longreach, Barcaldine, Muttaburra that already have established agricultural infrastructure that could be expanded, established human settlements (and importantly voters), and further west potentially channel water into the Murray Darling Basin.
The CSIRO studies have not, so far, evaluated the feasibility of aqueducts between catchments. Therefore, the locations they identify rely on the coincidence of good soils, dam locations and rainfall. They do not consider connected water networks with harvesting levees and high catchment dams, or aqueducts that could transfer water between high rainfall poor soil, to low rainfall good soil locations. Not considered, also, are potential higher returns from enhanced town water supplies.
The problem – very few people live in the Mitchell catchment or want to go there (see map). I am concerned the CSIRO are going down the wrong path again, potentially creating another massive ‘white elephant’ like the Ord River Irrigation Scheme that may take 100’s of years to reach the projected potential. A system of gravity-fed aqueducts from the high rainfall northern rivers of Tully and the Walsh Rivers into the existing populated outback areas with irrigation potential – aka the new Bradfield Scheme – needs to be included in the CSIRO feasibility studies.
CSIRO have investigated the potential of northern Australia’s water resources to support increased regional development as part of our engagement in delivery of the Australian Government’s White Paper on Developing Northern Australia, for which one of the key initiatives is the development of northern Australia’s water resources. They have delivered water resource assessments for three priority regions in northern Australia for the Australian Government after working with northern jurisdictions, research partners and communities over 2.5 years. An orphaned dam in the Mitchell catchment is all we get? Disappointing.