Access to clean water has been said to become human's biggest challenge.
Living in the Wet Tropics we might think that won't apply to us.
High rainfall and clear running creeks give us a false sense of security. For a number of years Friends of the Earth FNQ has questioned how council can guarantee that both Mareeba and Kuranda town water drawn from the Barron River is guaranteed safe at all times. The Barron River is a drain for agricultural toxins for example. The very limited testing for contaminants is no indicator for the quality of the water. Herbicides found in the Barron water for example are not included in Council test suites.
The same principle of inadequate testing applies to bores. If you don't have a comprehensive bore analysis done you can't be sure the water is drinkable. This has just been confirmed in the Koah area where a community project tested bores for heavy metals. Bores in rural residential subdivisions, that have been deemed potable [safe to drink] by Council, developers or real estate agents only had very basic testing done. The tests didn't include E.coli, heavy metals or pesticides despite being located in a farming area.
The heavy metal test is now revealing a widespread presence of arsenic in bore water. Levels ranging from high to too high according to the Australian drinking water guideline.
At the start of their election campaign Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt came to Cairns to announce $50 million in new projects to boost water quality, including efforts to keep sediment, fertilisers and pesticides off the reef. This announcement was partly to reassure concerns over research showing 93 percent of reefs had been bleached and dire predictions that the Reef will be dead in 5 to 25 years.
A major problem for the Reef’s survival is that the Government has also promised hundreds of millions of dollars to promote land clearing, mega farms, mining and coal seam gas projects in North Queensland that will place greater burden on the Reef; plus they have recently approved the Adani mega coal mine near Bowen. Adani’s mine, which will be the biggest in Australia, will greatly contribute to global warming and drive coral bleaching and reef die-back.
World Wildlife Fund (WWF) scientist and spokesman Sean Hoobin said in a statement, "We have viable renewable alternatives that don't sacrifice the 67,000 jobs the Reef provides and that will generate thousands of new jobs. It will take several billion dollars to save the Great Barrier Reef from water quality threats. A reef rescue plan, on the scale of the one forged for the Murray-Darling basin, is needed.” WWF Australia has grave doubts the Federal Government will meet its current funding commitments to the reef or that the money committed will come close to what's needed to save it from agricultural run-off and sediment build up.Read more
Laws Introduced to Rein in Rampant Tree-Clearing
Changes to the Vegetation Management Act, to rein in broadscale and other inappropriate tree clearing across Queensland have just been introduced in Queensland Parliament. Deputy Premier Jackie Trad said the laws would close "loopholes" created by the Newman government.
Ms Trad said protection would also be extended for vegetation in riparian zones of the Great Barrier Reef catchment. "Currently the protections are only around three catchments, and we're extending it to all six. We know the less vegetation in the ground the more sediment runoff into the reef, the poorer the water quality, and the less healthy the reef is."
Severe Coral Bleaching in Most Pristine Parts of the Northern Reef
University of Queensland marine researcher Professor Justin Marshall, who has been visiting the reef for 30 years, said the bleaching in the northern section of the World Heritage Area was the worst he had ever seen. "I'm yet to see a healthy coral [near Lizard Island], there's no coral that hasn't been bleached," he said. "I'm very worried I'm witnessing the death of a very large part of this reef system.”
Australian environment minister Greg Hunt has announced plans for more monitoring and programs to tackle run-off pollution and crown-of-thorns starfish outbreaks. Critics however say Hunt’s response sidestepped the central role of climate change and heat stress as the cause of the bleaching and dying coral.Read more
Friends of the Earth sent a brief questionnaire to all candidates for the forthcoming Mareeba Shire Council elections to find out what the candidates think about local environmental issues.
Answers were requested before the Kuranda paper deadline, necessitated a fast response.
Their replies to our questions have been summarised in tabular form on a PDF document prepared for the Kuranda Paper – SEE HERE.
Everyone got back to us by the paper’s deadline, except Mayoral candidate Tom Gilmore (who’s standing unopposed) and Angela Toppin.
How do the Cassowaries pass by?
Where does the Aerial Spray drift to? Suburban Kuranda? Clifton Beach?
Which Creeks and Rivers do the chemicals end up in? Who is drinking it?
What do the Frogs think? Feel? [ouch!]
It's been a big year for FOE Kuranda. And we want you to celebrate with us.
We've been active around 4 local campaigns, each linking with broader national environmental justice issues.
1. Exposing pesticide pollution of the Barron River which provides drinking water for Mareeba and Kuranda communities
2. Opposing the pipelines that would carry Coal Seam Gas (csg) in North Queensland
3. Standing against the mega farms such as the IFED project and the Three Rivers Irrigation Project, which would divert precious water resources from economic systems and sustainable agriculture on the Western Tableland Gulf Savannah.
4. Improving water quality and agricultural and urban run-off in our FNQ catchments to preserve the Barrier Reef for future generationsRead more
The Queensland Labor Party is backtracking on pledges it made before the last election to repeal water reforms which deregulated the use of groundwater by resource companies, giving big mining operations rights to billions of litres of water without the need for a licence.Read more
Gas Pipelines Planned For Cape York and Across Northern Queensland
Two members of FoE Kuranda and CSG Free Kuranda along with 120 people from around the country attended a Lock the Gate conference in Lismore. Some of the new gas proposals for our region that were discussed was the gas pipeline from New Guinea through Cape York as well as the gas pipeline coming across from the Northern Territory and on down to export facilities at Gladstone. These pipelines would also enable gasfields to be developed all along their route. Currently over half of Queensland and Australia is covered by coal and gas licenses and could be turned into gasfields.Read more
Here is an inspiring example of what community action was able to achieve on related forestry issues in Northern NSW.
This article also names the chemicals used in forestry operations.
No Spray, No Way community fights chemical weed spraying in Gladstone state forest
March 16, 2015 in Media
It has been described as a laid-back, tree-fringed town with a community that prides itself on making a living out of organic farming and healthy lifestyles.
So when residents around Bellingen in the state’s north were told that the nearby Gladstone State forest was about to be aerially sprayed by the Forestry Corporation with a cocktail of chemical weed killers they reacted angrily and immediately mounted a campaign to stop it.
“We set up camps in the forest, on the helipad site and the entrance to the forest to run around-the-clock on-ground vigilance at all times,” said resident and No Spray No Way campaigner Susan Weil.
“Forestry Corporation was not allowed to conduct any aerial spraying while there were community members in the forest and we took full advantage of this protocol,” Ms Weil told Fairfax Media.
Trouble started with the announcement from the Forestry Corporation that an area that had become overrun with weeds after it was logged for hardwood was going to be sprayed from a helicopter to kill the weeds before a new plantation of timber was planted. Forestry Corporation said it was planning to mix four chemcials and herbicides: Glyphosate, Metsulfurin Methyl, Fluroxypyr and Simazine and the adjuvants Liaise and Pulse, to do the job.Read more
These are slides used at a presentation at a public meeting on 10th November 2015, attended by more than 20 locals, Councillors and Council staff.
The public meeting led to the formation of a new initiative: the Friends of Kuranda Planning Group.