The weekly wash-up (June 21)

The week that was in river and water news – June 21st, 2013

NT water policy: pro-development or simply reckless?  A 5,800 megalitre water licence has been approved for Stylo Station, outside Mataranka. The application was previously rejected twice and denied on appeal by the Supreme Court.  So what has changed?  1. Government (a CLP candidate for the upcoming federal election is one of the owners of the property) 2. Apparently the data modelling has improved. Instead of the 100 years of data used previously, the new modelling uses the last 40 years which have been wetter.

Mataranka Springs, NT. A large new water allocation has recently been approved in this catchment.

Mataranka Springs, NT. A large new water allocation has recently been approved in this catchment.

EPBC Act ammendment gets through and “science the winner”  The Senate has passed the bill known as the “water trigger amendment”. The bill’s passage now means the Commonwealth is responsible for ensuring water systems are not impacted by major coal seam gas and coal mining projects.

River be damned  The 450 km-long Nam Ou, one of the few Lao rivers traversable by boat for its entire length, will soon be severed seven times over by a 350-km stretch of hydropower dams built and maintained by Chinese giant Sinohydro. Despite concerns of environmentalists and objections by neighbouring Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam, the tiny, landlocked nation of Laos is following China’s lead in its exploitation of the Mekong River and its tributaries.

Ethiopia ratifies River Nile treaty amid Egypt tension  Ethiopia’s parliament has ratified a treaty intended to replace colonial-era agreements that gave Egypt and Sudan the biggest share of the Nile’s water. Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi said he did not want war but would not allow Egypt’s water supply to be endangered.

Water wastage is down: Sydney Water  Sydney Water will spend more than $350 million on water mains after it emerged leaky pipes would waste more than 40 billion litres this year. The company  has brought leakage levels down to 8% in the last eight years and saved about 26.5 billion litres a year detecting leaks and renewing water mains.

Water holder reveals Basin plans for coming year  The Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder (CEWH) intends to trade water in the Murray-Darling Basin for the first time in 2013-14. Plans include the largest ever delivery of water to wetlands in the NSW Lachlan Valley. The CEWH is responsible for 1,600 gigalitres of water rights that the Commonwealth has so far acquired in the Basin, 1,116  of which was bought back from irrigators.