Canberra Times: Water Waste—Letter to the Editor

On the 23rd of January 2020 the Canberra Times printed a letter from Mr P R Temple of Macquarie, Water Waste, which raised issues regarding the use by Ginninderry contractors of water from Ginninderra creek The letter is reproduced at the end of this paper. In response to the letter Ginninderry is able to advise that the Ginninderry Civil Engineering contractor, Huon, has utilised some water from Ginninderra creek for dust suppression purposes. Extraction and use of this water is subject to and in accord with an authorisation by the ACT Environment Protection Agency. The first preference source for water for site works is the dams located on the site but the ongoing dry conditions have necessitated the use of creek water also.

Details are set out below:

  • Water for both dust suppression and construction activities is always sourced from site harvested water as a first priority. This is often done via the construction of specific detention ponds and basins at low points within the site to capture sediment-laden overland flows. Alternatively, existing farm dams are often used at the permission of both the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the relevant lessees. Water is taken from natural waterways as a last resort, and always under specific approval from the EPA (no associated extraction charge).
  • Currently, Huon Contractors have an approved ‘licence to take water’, issued under Part 5 of the Water Resources Act 2007 to draw water from the following natural water bodies:
    • West Belconnen Pond, Dunlop
    • Ginninderra Creek (west of Jarramlee Pond), Dunlop
    • Water Feature 932 (pond west of Hollow Circuit), MacGregor
  • Specifically regarding the licence to draw water from Ginninderra Creek, Huon’s approved Location Licensed Volume (LLV) is for 10 ML in any given calendar year. To date, Huon Contractors have only extracted approximately 2,000 kL (i.e. 2 ML) of water from Ginninderra Creek, between the 6 – 16 January 2020. The recent rainfall events on 16 and 20 January have topped up the site ponds and basins to provide sufficient water for dust suppression and construction activities for the foreseeable future (roughly 2 months), with approximately 20 – 25 ML estimated on-site as a result of recent rain events.
  • In efforts to mitigate dust generated from Earthworks, activities at Ginninderry are also undertaken via a slightly different process to conventional subdivisions, whereby stages are split into smaller parcels and sequentially stabilised prior to moving on to subsequent stages. This stabilising is done via a polymer binder. Additionally, part of the Ginninderry development approach is to reject the typical process of placing topsoil back on completed blocks, as this is typically stripped shortly thereafter by individual builders and disposed of in a less controlled fashion (i.e. exported to a multitude of off-site facilities). Comparably, the Ginninderry topsoil is exported via controlled processes under specific environmental supervision to be recycled and on-sold at landscape management facilities. This considerably reduces the likelihood of cross-contamination of soil materials and also mitigates vehicle movements and ground disturbance that generates dust.
Canberra Times 23.1.20: Water waste

I note Yass Valley Council (YVC) has introduced Level 2 water restrictions. I wonder what its constituents think about it approving the Ginninderry JV’s extraction of water from Ginninderra Creek to dampen down the dust in its “moonscape’ development” at the same time as their imposition.

We have just lost a billion native animals (and plants) to catastrophic bushfires and in excess of one million mature (some 100 year old) fish at Menindee from poor water management.

Our rivers, creeks, ponds, lakes and dams will soon be polluted with toxic run-off from the fires. Fish and aquatic animals will have to fight to survive. They are struggling now.

There are three platypus pools below Ginninderra Falls which are drying out and stranding aquatic animals. Surely, YVC should be protecting the creek, not draining it. We owe it to our vulnerable native fauna. We should be looking after our precious water resource and not sucking it out (with countless biota) to spray on development sites.

We need to be responsible and protect our remaining native wild life.

P. R. Temple, Macquarie