Sustain Healthy River Systems
Healthy rivers are our lifeblood. Queensland’s rivers are among the most beautiful and diverse on earth. Our rivers, and the wetlands they feed, are home to many rare plants, birds, fish, and mammals. Our healthy rivers provide clean drinking water for everyone and are vital to the Queensland way of life.
The greatest threat to our rivers comes from escalating water use and pollution. Large scale irrigated agriculture already uses 78% of all the water consumed in Queensland – while run-off from properties, industrial and urban developments and mine sites can adversely affect river health. South East Queensland households may have halved their water use–there is no room for complacency. In most other urban centres in Queensland, water consumption remains very high.
Queensland still has many pristine rivers systems, particularly in more remote locations. These need protection from industrial and agricultural development, whilst allowing sustainable and sensitive activities to continue.
Dams and major infastructure
Ban all currently proposed and future major dams and weirs – halt new major aquifer extractions and expansions of existing major dams and weirs, as current proposals ignore the ecological impacts and their effects of climate change.
Queensland must shift direction on water infrastructure and invest in less water intensive industries and water reliant urban development.
Regional water resource planning must allocate for agricultural, industrial and urban use within identified allocations and support the transition towards sustainable and less water-dependent activities. Allocations and practices must take account of the need to maintain environmental flows and water quality, as a first order priority.
Ecologically Sustainable Development principles must be applied to activities that could affect water supply and groundwater. This means that only activities that can demonstrate that they do not threaten these resources, can be considered for any approval.
Queensland must shift direction on water infrastructure towards greater demand and de-centralised management–advanced water efficiency, managed distributed wastewater treatment and reuse, distributed stormwater capture and integrated management, based upon the concept of water sensitive cities.
Set a water positive standard for all new development by 2020, focused and based on the need for water sensitive urban design and developments acting as water catchments.
Introduce and maintain a maximum 140 litre per person per day cap through the application of appropriate actions to save, harvest and recycle water – in all major urban centres.
Through poor historical practices and the increasing impacts of climate change, Queensland catchments are under threat. Initiatives and regulations need to be introduced to restore natural functions and adapt to changing conditions.
We seek comprehensive flood plain management assessments to assist in informming planning and management regimes.
Future planning should focus on the restoration of natural river function, improved land management practices to reduce erosion and pollution from catchments and prohibition on inappropriately located activities.
Currently community safety is compromised as a result of extreme weather events and this must be addressed.
Protecting wild rivers
Hydro-ecological processes are critical to river and landscape conservation outcomes in Queensland. Thirteen river systems have been protected through the revolutionary Wild Rivers Act 2005, one of only three pieces of standalone legislation in the world to explicitly protect wild rivers. The ongoing health of these thirteen river systems, and others in Queensland is critical.
There should be no diminution in the current levels of regulatory protection applying to the thirteen river systems currently Wild Rivers.
Protecting other key river systems in Queensland from destructive development, including large-scale irrigation, mining and CSG extraction, and inappropriate land is also a high priority. Rather than reducing environmental protections for Queensland rivers, there should be greater whole-of-catchment planning, management, and protection, including the role of natural assets in mitigating flood impacts
National significant waterways
Queensland Conservation Member Groups support the return of environmental flows to the Murray Darling River catchment. We will continue to take account of actions towards the restoration of a healthy Murray Darling System. Whilst we recognise the implications of the return of environmental flows to primary producers–the facts are that–scientists have clearly stated that a minimum 4000 GL per year must be returned. This remains our expectation for the river system.
With major concerns about the impacts of water extractions from the great Artesian basin, particularly from CSG operations, Queensland Conservation Member Groups are calling for the listing of the GAB as a Matter of national Environmental Significance.