Federal environment minister Peter Garrett
Federal environment minister Peter Garrett

No dam could mean no pipeline

THE failure to win approval for the Traveston Crossing Dam is expected to have serious ramifications for the government’s state water grid plan and may partly explain delays in a final decision on stage two of the SEQ water grid northern pipeline.

Federal environment minister Peter Garrett has delayed a final decision on whether the pipeline can be built from January 5 until February 12 .

His decision, under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, would come after considering the impact on the multitude of river and creek crossings the pipeline would traverse as well as any potential impacts on threatened or endangered species and flora.

The department which Mr Garrett heads said this week the delay in announcing a decision had been caused by the need to assess additional information from the state government.

However, the loss of the dam as a vital link in a wider state water grid, which would see water piped south out of catchments further north than Traveston, is likely to have thrown the entire strategy into disarray.

Kellog Brown and Root last February won a $3 million tender to identify the feasibility of linking water reserves further north than the south-east corner to a grid which the government said would provide “a higher level of water security against prolonged sequences of drought years”.

The quest for water is also being driven by the demand which would be generated by the massive growth planned for the south-east corner.

The KBR report, which experts say would have had the Traveston dam as a critical element, was due for completion last month.

Anticipation of the dam’s approval drove the design of stage two of the pipeline, for which 1.2m diameter pipes have already been stockpiled along the route from Eudlo to Lake Macdonald.

Mary River Catchment Coordinating Committee spokesman Steve Burgess said yesterday that there was no business case for a pipeline of that size to carry the amount of water which would be available to pump from Lake Macdonald.

Mr Burgess called for the Mary River Water Resource Plan to be revisited to consider the strategic reserve required to maintain environmental flows.

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