Protecting Wilderness and National Parks

Chief Scientist fails to ensure catchment protection

“The report into our drinking water supplies by our Chief Scientist, Prof. Mary O’Kane, is a disappointment.  The report failed to organise and present existing data on water losses, pollution, cliff falls, the swamp damage, cracked stream beds and Aboriginal heritage ruined,” Keith Muir director of the Colong Foundation for Wilderness said.

“Prof O’Kane has called for more studies and better organised data.  Surely the Prof. O’Kane appreciates that industry consultants cannot pass a smoking gun to Government by effectively monitoring catchment damage.  So where is the call for independent research?,” Mr Muir wonders.

“The Precautionary Principle also should have been part of Prof. O’Kane’s more studies must be done recommendations”, said Mr Muir.

“Instead, the review accepts the industry’s adaptive management principle. Yes, the coal industry has adapted to risk by increased longwall mining intensity in the catchments to the point where resultant damage is a great public concern.  The elevation of this so-called principle to something of importance demonstrates just how successful this ploy has been in hiding the increased catchment abuse for the last decade or so,” he said.

“A clear trend line exists between mining intensity and mining damage, so why was this not examined across time by the Chief Scientist?”, Mr Muir asked. 

“Alarmingly this review apparently condones on-going damage to nationally endangered swamps.  Damage to such nationally heritage is an offence under the Federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, 1999.  Now that NSW is in control of national heritage, it’s R.I.P. swamps and the essential role they play in the catchment”, said Mr Muir.

”Sydney is extremely lucky to have near-pristine water supply catchments, and these catchments must be protected for all time.  Proposals to build giant artificial kidneys to treat polluted water supplies after mining abuse may sound great, but technology is no substitute for the pristine water catchments we must pass on to prosperity,” Mr Muir said.

For more information contact: Keith Muir, (02) 9261 2400 (wk) or 0412 791 404 (mob)