THE PROPONENTS of the Pulp Mill currently propose to extract 29Giga litres of water from the Trevallyn Dam and then pump this through a 36Kms pipeline to the Proposed Pulp Mill complex at Long Reach.

After the water is used at the proposed mill the water will be pumped another 20kms to Lulworth, and then discharged through another pipeline 4kms out into Bass Strait.

There are a number of aspects worth considering.

29Giga litres is 29,000,000,000 litres. This is more water than Esk Water supplies to all of Launceston, the Tamar Valley, Devonport and surrounding townships each year. Esk Water’s annual report confirms this.

Whilst the Proponent states that the 29Gl is only 1% of the total water used by the Trevallyn Dam for power generation. With the inception of the illegal Meander Dam and increased water usage by farmers in that area, together with the forecast for 11% less rain in the rivers’ catchment area, due to climate change. In 15-25 years’ time the current 1% could be a future – 10% of the capacity of the Trevallyn Dam.

If there is “surplus” water in the Trevallyn Dam for the next 30 years; (albeit 1% for this proposal) why can it not be used for power generation? This would reduce the cost of purchasing very expensive Bass Link power. After all, Hydro power is almost instantaneous in its ability to start up and meet load requirements. I am also sure most citizens would prefer that any spare water be released down the Gorge to assist flows, reduce siltation and reduce recurrent dredging costs.

The Federal, NSW, Victorian and South Australian Governments have over the last two years spent $179M to increase the flow of water in the Murray River by some 240Gl. The Federal Government has announced another $500M to further increase the flow of the Murray River by 500Gl over the next four years, to buy back water rights from irrigators. This is at an average cost of $900,000 per Giga litre, and if used as the basis for the Proponent taking 29Gl of water from the Trevallyn Dam would cost them $26.1 M per year in just water.

The Proponent and/or the Task Force acknowledged that the proposed pipeline from Longreach to Lulworth and out to Bass Strait will cost approximately $20M. The true cost of the Trevallyn to Longreach route will be heavily and covertly subsidized by the cost of upgrading and re-routing the East Tamar Highway. But even the same cost basis as the Longreach to Lulworth stretch was used, the pipeline would cost $43.2M, $63.2 in total.

29Giga litres of clean river water will enter the proposed pulp mill; it will be used and then pumped out to sea. Gunns, Mr.Gay, Gunns PR staff, Bob Gordon, The Pulp Mill Task Force web site, The Premier, and the Ministers have all re-iterated that the water being discharged is “cleaner than fish tank water, containing only salt water and dissolved salts”. If this is so, why doesn’t the Proponent take the water from the Tamar and then discharge it back in to the river? Or why doesn’t the Proponent take the existing water from the Curries and or Lauriston Dam 8kms away and pump the water back to these dams. The water from these dams is largely used for industrial purposes at Bell Bay. This would only involve 16 Kms of pipe work at an approximate cost of $19.2 M.

They are too scared to suggest an alternative proposal

Water would be retained in the Trevallyn Dam, native flora and fauna for the full length of the proposed 60km pipelines would not be disturbed or compromised, and the pristine Bass Strait environment would not be threatened. Alternatively the Proponent could move the existing Chip Plant at Longreach to the Industrial area at Bell Bay, where cleared land, water pipelines, port facilities all ready exists. Some upgrading of these existing facilities at Bell Bay may well be required, but this would not cost as much as the current proposal, and more importantly the environment, community, and other industrial companies at Bell Bay may benefit from the upgrade.

Why hasn’t the Minister of Economic Development (old and new) or Councils in the regional area or the Northern Development Council raised these matters? They could have created a Win: Win situation for all stakeholders.

Why haven’t they? Because they have blinkers on, they are too scared to suggest an alternative proposal; they are to busy working in an adversarial manner rather than listening to other peoples’ and the community views.

The two new pulp mills in Victoria will not consume any appreciable amount of water, it’s all re-cycled. Why can not the Proponents do the same?

Another reason is that, perhaps the water that will be discharged is not as clean as they claim, and they need to hide it.

For a Nation and State that is supposed to be smart, innovative, clean and green etc. etc (which State and Federal governments spend millions on promoting) how come a company, a State Government and a group of engineers can come up with a solution that takes 29Giga litres of clean river water, pump it 36kms — pollute it (to some degree) and then pump it 26kms and then dump it into the pristine ocean.

This water will be totally lost as a resource, no one else will be able to use it or have access to it.

What happened to the principles of Reduce-Recycle-Reuse? Was this yesterday’s slogan?

Do householders still have to stop dripping taps etc? Is this the new benchmark that we have to meet?

Will the State and Federal governments stop giving grants to companies that are developing innovative technology to save water, reduce recurrent operational costs; lessen our footprint on this planet?

It’s just blind hypocrisy and greed.

Again, why haven’t the media reported on this matter over the last 16 months?

John Day is a resident of Rowella.