Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Yes, build it up higher! (the Burdekin dam that is)

The one minor consolation that I got from the sad news that no hydro station was being built up in the rainforest mountains up north, was that the environmental groups acceded that the Burdekin Dam stage two should be used for hydro instead. There apparently is less ecologically important land to be flooded. The only thing was that the extra storage capacity entailed was way overkill, and even the storage as it is was a resource waiting for possible extra uses. It has been handy for water security here in Townsville of course. It seems that with the talk of South East Queensland wanting a pipeline for their water security, stage 2 is becoming much more likely. Of course, the Burdekin is a river where siltation is a big long term problem compared to the rainforest areas, but by the time the pipeline is built, hydro will almost certainly be part of the deal anyway (to power the pumps?) together with all its carbon credits and peak loading power supply advantages. The possible problems with this vision? Pipeline cost may be in the billions of dollars.


Dave said...

...but who cares about the cost if the southeast is paying for it :)

Seriously, they are talking about building up the Burdekin dam to provide water security for Brisbane? 1300 kilometres away? truly we live in an age of wonders.

Barely relevantly, I just finished reading a possibly-true account of a hitherto-unacknowleged (probably because it was unsuccessful) partnership between Niccolo Machiavelli and Leonardo Da Vinci to redirect the Arno River past Florence. Had it worked, it would have provided Florence with water security and a water trade route, its areas of biggest economic vulnerability and not coincidentally dried up its semi-coastal neighbour and fierce rival Pisa. Here's a review:

Read all about it.

Anonymous said...

A factoid I recently heard in Toowoomba is that Australia already stores more water per capita than any other country in the world. We are just paranoid about running out. On a recent visit to South East Queensland I observed that everything looked nice and green, drove past several reservoirs that seemed to have a fair bit of water in them, and observed a McDonald's carpark that had just been hosed off. Beattie should just charge people more for water so they will use less, dammit!
I am not at all pleased with damming the Mary and Burnett rivers because of the possible impact on our Australian Lungfish, which is of more planetary biological heritage-ness importance than anything else we have except the Platypus.
Furthermore, I reckon its dumb to increase the size of a big shallow reservoir in a hot place a long way from Brisbane when there are plenty of places to build deep narrow reservoirs in cool places much closer to Brisbane, in the national parks of northern New South Wales.

Marco said...

I love that comment! It is true that Australians both store (and use) more water per capita than any other country, but this is a misleading statistic in itself. Firstly it is a result of a combination of very low net population density with a very high agricultural output and comparatively very irregular wet seasons.

Marco said...

I also read recently that Australia is the only country in the world that meticulously meters everybody's water. We are also the only country that has successfully started water trading. The success being that it has encouraged efficient uses like wine over inefficient ones like wheat and grazing. The challenge in South-East Queensland is that urban water usage is a tougher political minefield than is farming water usage. The ideal would be to increase the water charges in times of drought, and like with bananas, the high cost means that no matter how scarce the resource there will be controlled rationing.