GENERAL News

HAVE ADVISORS EMBARRASSED WEATHERILL OVER CLAYTON DAM REGULATORS?

July 21, 2009. Clayton Bay. The displaced mud deepens, the banks of the dam slump, the road sinks. The silt flows back into Lake Alexandrina. Stop construction now!

July 21, 2009. Clayton Bay. The displaced mud deepens, the banks of the dam slump, the road sinks. The silt flows back into Lake Alexandrina. Stop construction now!

Members of The Fresh Water Embassy including Professor Diane Bell met with Minister for the Environment Jay Weatheral MP to discuss damage that the new regulators are causing   on the environment.

“We ask that you cease work on the “Regulator” now”,” Professor Diane Bell told SA Environment Minister Jay Weatherill on Monday 20 July in Port Augusta. “The recent rains have diluted acid. The “Regulator” is an emergency measure but there is no emergency.”

Members of the Fresh Water Embassy had driven to Port Augusta to deliver their message. Their many invitations for the Minister to visit the Embassy at Clayton Bay had not succeeded, so they decided to take the Embassy to the Minister in Port Augusta where he was participating in regional Community Cabinet meetings.

“We showed the Minister photographs of the silt waves and explained how the retaining skirt that was supposed to retain the mud had broken loose and allowed the mud to flow through into Lake Alexandrina.  We told him that the Clayton Dam/Regulator was being built across one of the deepest holes in the Channel, a place that is a refuge for fish in times of drought. That was not information he had. Perhaps he is not being well advised.”

“We showed the Minister photographs of the Finniss River in flood and told him that our research showed it was now alkaline. We asked where was the threat?  He said he would get back to us with the statistics. We stressed it was urgent, that was why we had driven all the way to Port Augusta.”

“I would call it a ‘robust exchange of views’,” Diane Bell said. “We agreed that bioremediation is important. We disagreed about how to manage the potential threat of acidification. Our monitoring indicates the threat has been washed away by the rain. We are waiting for the Minister to show us science to the contrary.”

“Our argument is simple. Regulators are being built on the Currency Creek and Finniss River to pool the water and allow it to bioremediate before it flows into the Goolwa Channel.  These regulators are not yet in place. The limestone wall across the Currency Creek was breached by the force of the rain-fed surge of water coming down the tributaries and the Goolwa Channel has not turned acid. If the recent rains had mobilised acids in the Currency Creek, then the Goolwa Channel would already be acidifying. It isn’t.  If the regulators on the tributaries are not needed, then neither is the Clayton Bay Dam/Regulator. Why continue with this folly?”

The dam/regulators decision-making appears to be bouncing between two Ministers: Karlene Maywald and Jay Weatherill. Are they speaking to each other? We are told the dam/regulators area ‘sponsored by Maywald’ but we say the structure impacts on the environment which is the responsibility of Weatherill. And who is monitoring the work site? Who looks after compliance issues? The Department of Water, Land and Biodiversity Conservation?  Who ensures they are in compliance?”

“We are told monitoring of water quality is fortnightly but the Govt website was last updated a month ago (June 23 2009 http://www.epa.sa.gov.au/lower_lakes.html) and we have had significant rain since then. More recent data on http://data.rivermurray.sa.gov.au shows all the monitoring points are alkaline. They are quick to tell us when there is an acid reading. We would be less suspicious if data and reports were made available in a timely and open fashion.”

“It appears we will need to take the Fresh Water Embassy to Adelaide to get answers to our questions,” Diane Bell said.

Diane Bell for the River, Lakes and Coorong Action Group Inc: 0427 554 194

To learn more of the travels of the Fresh Water Embassy and their meeting with the Minister who wasn’t there visit http://hurrysavethemurray.com/updatesandevents/.

For more photos visit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dibell/
River, Lakes and Coorong Action Group Inc, winner of the 2009 Jill Hudson Environmental Award

July 21, 2009. Clayton Bay. The displaced mud deepens, the banks of the dam slump, the road sinks. The silt flows back into Lake Alexandrina. Stop construction now

For more photos visit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dibell/
River, Lakes and Coorong Action Group Inc, winner of the 2009 Jill Hudson Environmental Award