10 April, 2011

Sustainable Business Weekly QLD Edition [Water Blame Game, Climate Adaption, Climate Action]

The blame game

Premier Anna Bligh has moved to end the water blame game by blaming Local Governments for water price rises.

The QLD State Government has decided to repeal the sections of the South-East Queensland Water (Distribution and Retail Restructuring) Act 2009. The State has capped distribution and retail annual water and sewerage price increases at CPI, which currently stands at 2.7%.

The changes make councils responsible for the price of water charged to their ratepayer. However, the State continues to produce, treat & share the bulk water across the SEQ region via a water grid.

Queensland Urban Utilities welcomed the State Government’s announcement of a 2-year price cap on water and sewerage charges but called on the State Government to extend the cap to its own bulk water prices.

The QLD State Government is still trying to recover over $7b in costs from idle or mothballed infrastructure built during the 2002-2009 drought, including:

· An idle Gold Coast desal plant;

· An un-used indirect potable reuse scheme;

· A water grid, including a Northern pipeline to a non-existent Traveston Crossing Dam

Qld Flood Inquiry

The Qld Floods Commission of Inquiry begins this week and will hold public hearings in affected areas.

A Department of Environment & Resource Management briefing note submitted to the inquiry, says it would be too costly to build flood storage space in dams around some of the worst hit regional Queensland towns.

National Water Commission report on Urban Water

The National Water Commission has entered the water blame game, saying (State & Local) Governments should drop their resistance to policy options including potable reuse of treated wastewater, new dams and rural-to-urban transfers.

A new National Water Commission report on Urban water in Australia, says Governments tend to rely too heavily on water restrictions and should consider all options in an "even-handed" way.

The report also recommends that:

· utilities offer pricing plans that allow customers to choose the level of water supply security that best matches their needs;

· Governments publicly report the cost-benefit assessments of various options.

· COAG develop "national objectives" for the urban water sector and general principles to guide reform;

· jurisdictions establish specific standards for supply security, environmental sustainability, public health and waterway health.

Byerwen coal mine

The draft Terms of Reference (TOR) for the proposed $1.5 billion Byerwen coal mine in the northern Bowen Basin has been released by the Coordinator-General for public feedback as part of a comprehensive Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to assess the project's potential social, environmental and economic impacts.

The Byerwen coal project proposes a mine located at a greenfield site approximately 140 km west of Mackay, near the mining townships of Collinsville and Glenden.

The $1.5 billion project could produce up to 10 million tonnes per annum over 50 years of high-quality, metallurgical coking coal primarily for the Japanese and Asian export markets.

Coking coal is used primarily for the manufacture of steel.

To view the draft Byerwen Coal Project TOR, visit www.dlgp.qld.gov.au/projects

Submissions must be lodged by close of business on 16 May 2011 to byerwen@cg.qld.gov.au

Coastal Plan – Climate adaption

A new Queensland coastal plan (Department of Environment and Resource Management, April 2011) imposes development controls on areas at high risk from climate change-related sea level rise and obliges coastal councils to prepare adaptation strategies for urban areas.

Reflecting the most recent international (IPCC) estimates, climate-change related hazard areas are identified assuming a sea-level rise of 0.8 metres by 2100, up from the 0.3 metre increase assumed in the 2002 plan it is replacing.

However, the plan states that these assumptions will be reviewed if the IPCC revises its estimates of sea-level rise trends or if a national intergovernmental agreement or policy on sea-level rise or storm intensity is developed.

The identification process the state government used to map at-risk areas also assumes a 10% increase in maximum cyclone intensity.

A sign of the times

A sign at the anti-Carbon Tax rally in Canberra stated: “My Mom is cold”. At the rally for Climate action, there was a sign stating: “My Mom is Hot”

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