Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Adani’s flawed protections for groundwater: its Carmichael mine may dry up ancient desert springs

Scientists warn ancient desert springs may dry up under Adani plan, Brisbane Times, Nicole Hasham, June 9, 2019 A group of Australia’s pre-eminent water scientists say a rare desert oasis may dry up under Adani’s “flawed” protections for groundwater near its proposed Carmichael mine, in a scathing assessment days out from a crucial ruling on the plan.

Queensland’s Department of Environment and Science is this week due to decide on Adani’s groundwater management plan – one of the last remaining barriers to construction of the coal project.

Former federal environment minister Melissa Price granted approval for the highly contentious groundwater plan days out from the federal election campaign. This came despite CSIRO and Geoscience Australia raising concerns over the energy company’s modelling and proposed management……..

Mining activity such as drilling through aquifers can cause groundwater levels to fall, or “draw down”, and reduce water vital to the survival of connected ecosystems.

Seven leading experts from four Australian universities examined the latest groundwater plans and conducted on-site analysis at Doongmabulla Springs.

The team was led by Flinders University hydrogeology professor Adrian Werner, a former adviser to the Queensland government.

Their report concluded that the Carmichael project may cause the springs to stop flowing permanently, pushing the wetland to extinction.

It found Adani is likely to have underestimated future impacts on the springs – partly because the aquifer feeding the wetland had not been identified and Adani’s estimates did not consider possible water leakage between underground formations.

The void left behind at the end of the mine’s life would draw down water for many years, meaning the worst groundwater impacts would occur after the company left the site, they said.

The scientists rejected Adani’s so-called ‘adaptive management’ plan to mitigate risks to the wetland. The method – essentially a learning-by-doing approach – was unsuitable partly because of lag times between mining activity and the effect on the springs, they said.

Possible cumulative impacts to the wetland from other proposed coal projects have also not been properly considered, the report added.

Professor Werner said the research showed Adani’s water plan was “severely flawed” and risked the extinction of both the springs complex and the flora and fauna that depend on it.

“If we allow Adani to drain billions of litres of water with this groundwater plan then we are effectively playing Russian roulette with the very existence of a million-year-old ecosystem,” he said.

The report was presented to officials at the Department of Environment and Science on Wednesday. A department spokesman said it was awaiting advice from CSIRO on Adani’s groundwater plan before considering if any changes were required. The department’s decision is due on Thursday, June 13. …… https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/politics/federal/scientists-warn-ancient-desert-springs-may-dry-up-under-adani-plan-20190608-p51vqn.html

June 10, 2019 - Posted by | climate change - global warming, environment, Queensland

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