07 September, 2012

Water, Waste, Mine Fine

 Long Term Water Planning


The Qld Government is committed to releasing a discussion paper for a 30 year plan for Queensland’s water sector over the next six months.

The Newman Government has announced that a 30-year vision for affordable, secure, sustainable and high quality water, sewerage and sewage treatment services is being developed as part of the Six Month Action Plan.

Energy and Water Supply Minister: Mark McArdle said planning for Queensland’s future water sector was critical to delivering a reliable and cost effective water and sewerage service and to maintaining business growth and lifestyle choices.

A long-term water plan to harness the benefits and reduce the risks associated with Qld’s naturally-occurring climate (drought and flood), is an integral part of the Qld Government’s plan for growth.

The Newman Government is highly critical of the former Government’s SEQ Water plan. $7 billion was spent on the Western Corridor Water recycling scheme, a desalination plant on the Gold Coast and a (so-called) water grid.

It is easy to be critical in retrospect (following the floods in 2011) but the reality of the situation in 2009 was 7 years of consecutive drought.

Now the Department of Energy and Water Supply is working with other state departments and agencies to prepare a ‘whole-of-government’ discussion paper on the challenges and opportunities facing Qld’s water, sewerage and sewage treatment system.

One challenge to realising a clear 30-year water supply plan for Queensland is navigating the complex institutional arrangements (referred to by the Minister as a legislative, bureaucratic and jurisdictional maze).

The Queensland Water Sector Discussion Paper, to be released in December 2012.
The discussion paper will consider water security and reliability, public health and safety, environmental outcomes, liveability (integrated water and land-use planning), industry resilience (including industry skills), water for Queensland industries (including agriculture and mining), partnerships and engagement, and affordability.

Local Government Association of Queensland President Paul Bell said the Government had promised to work with local councils in establishing a 30 year vision for the state’s water and sewerage services.

He said Water and Energy Supply Minister Mark McArdle understood the need for proper and inclusive planning to ensure the state’s future water supply and sewage transport and treatment systems operated efficiently and effectively.

Cr Bell said the LGAQ had long been urging successive governments to streamline regulatory and reporting arrangements covering water and it was good that Mr McArdle’s had pointed to navigating the existing bureaucratic and legislative maze as the biggest stumbling block to water reform.

Work on the plan, which the Government has said was aimed at delivering affordable, secure, sustainable and high quality water and sewage transport and treatment services, will include extensive consultation with utilities, industry experts, business and the community. 

Waste Levy Media Frenzy

One of the first tasks for the new Environment Minister – Andrew Powell was given was to repeal the former Government’s Waste Levy.

The previous Labor Government only recently introduced a Waste Tax in December 2011, with a focus on reducing waste & promoting improved resource recovery.

The Waste Reduction and Recycling Act 2011 was introduced as an industry waste levy to create a price signal to encourage waste generators to focus on waste avoidance & resource recovery & to discourage unnecessary landfill disposal.

The levy was designed to ensure a level of consistency with waste disposal costs in other states to deter unnecessary disposal of interstate waste in Queensland.

It remains to be seen if the Qld LNP Government can find alternative funding streams to deliver an industry driven waste strategy as part of the budget process.

This week, Tony Moore contacted ASBG to ask for a comment on the increase of waste being trucked into Queensland as a result of the removal of the $35/t Waste Levy.

The next day, this story appeared in the Brisbane Times.

ASBG was invited to be interviewed on ABC Local Radio Station: 612Brisbane.

This story aired on Steve Austin's Morning Program.  A little later this story appear in the Telegraph.   Gary Hargraves from 4BC chatted to ASBG briefly on his drive program.

ASBG don't fore see the Qld Government backing down on the removal of the waste levy in this term of Government.   The NSW Government is set to increase their levy.

Mine Fine

A North-West Queensland mining company was fined $500,000 and ordered to pay approximately $83,000 in investigation costs for unlawfully causing serious environmental harm as a result of uncontrolled discharges of highly contaminated water from its mine site in early 2009.

The Prosecution bulletin no. 3/2012 has been published on the EHP website. 

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