WATER

(Adopted October 2014)

PRINCIPLES

The Queensland Greens believe that:

1.   The health of catchments, rivers, estuaries and ground water systems underpin the health of our communities and environment and the prosperity of agriculture and industry.

2.   Queensland's fresh water supplies are coming under increasing pressure as a result of growing populations and fluctuating resource security with climate change.

3.  The increasing extraction of water from the natural environment and the treatment of water as a tradable commodity must not compromise the intrinsic value of water in the natural environment.

4.   We promote local area solutions using the principals of water sensitive urban design, improved water efficiency, and the capture of rain water and stormwater. The Greens do not support energy intensive and environmentally damaging solutions like desalination, inter-basin transfer of water, excessive ground water extractions or the damming of river systems.

5.   Retention of currently publicly owned water resources and water infrastructure is in the best interests of all Queenslanders.

AIMS

The Queensland Greens will:

Managing for the Total Water Cycle

1.  Setup a new independent statutory body called the Surface and Underground Water Commission (SUWC) to deal with issues concerning inland and underground water in Queensland.

2.  Review and restore the original Wild Rivers Act 2005, with changes that ensure indigenous economic and cultural freedoms are maintained, but restoring all the original Wild River declarations and additional changes as outlined in the Queensland Greens Biodiversity and Environment Policy.

3. Introduce and enforce state wide laws to improve the regulation of sediment, nutrient, pollutant run-off from urban, recreational, agricultural and industrial activities and diffuse sources and empower all local governments to administer and enforce sediment and erosion control regulations.

4.  Apply legislative requirements to state projects regarding management of pollutants and impacts to waterways, catchments and other bodies of water.

5.  Develop a Water Quality Improvement Plan for all Queensland catchments and provide adequate resources to Queensland Government agencies, regional natural resource management bodies, community organisations, industry groups and other organisations to meet Water Quality Improvement Plan targets.

6.  Amend the Sustainable Planning Act 2009 to ensure all defined watercourses are given statutory protection in local planning schemes and state regional plans.

7.   Amend all state Water Resource Plans to set sustainable limits of water extraction in accordance with ongoing scientific evaluation. Ensure that precedence is given to environmental flow requirements over consumptive uses (except where human health requirements are endangered) and financial considerations in water planning decisions.

8.  Maintain support for established rural water efficiency programs, provide incentives for the adoption of less water intensive crops and establish a fund to buy back "sleeper" licences in over-allocated systems.

9.   Accelerate the capping of bores, encourage the uptake of the most water efficient irrigation systems and the piping of open channel irrigation systems in the Great Artesian Basin.

10. Prohibit the construction of new major public or private dams and desalination plants.

11. Provide biologically proven fish passage at existing barriers in Queensland waterways.

12. Commit additional resources to support genuine consultation and engagement with Traditional Owner groups and other stakeholders during and after a restored Wild River declaration process.

13. Regulate to prevent further loss of Queensland wetlands and require all Queensland Government agencies to protect all mapped wetlands and their ecologically based buffer zones (state, regional and local mapping) in planning, land use and ongoing management decisions.

14. Produce high resolution comprehensive state, regional and local maps of Queensland wetlands and their ecologically based buffer zones as a matter of urgency.

15. Increase funding to promote the rehabilitation and the sustainable use of Queensland’s remaining wetlands through education and financial incentive schemes.

16. Prohibit the introduction and use of exotic species in ponded pastures and the introduction and stocking of non-native fish species in water storages.

Natural Inland Water Resources

17. Prohibit large scale flood harvesting ‘Cubby Station style’ irrigation schemes, for example the proposed Gilbert River irrigation scheme.

18. Ensure that natural seasonal flows are maintained by preventing the construction of any large public or private dams on any river system in Queensland.

19. Banning fossil fuel exploration anywhere in Queensland.

20. Improve standards for sediment controls during all development and construction of major infrastructure projects across the state, including a system of properly supported and resourced monitoring and compliance regulation.

21. Provide resources and support for the establishment of an Agricultural Rivers Partnership Program, to enhance knowledge sharing between farmers as key landscape managers of food productive land to enable: facilitated innovation and research uptake, improved agricultural irrigation efficiency, erosion control, runoff quality and sediment control, practical river ecology protection, a stock exclusion program for endangered waterway habitats, and floodplains vegetation and pest management.

22. Ensure all coal mine water releases during flooding be banned and instead such water, including Coal Seam Gas (CSG) water, will require strictly controlled purification and monitoring before being released as ‘near normal’ environmental flows or for agricultural irrigation purposes. The problem of coal mine flooding from extreme rain events is likely to become more frequent due to climate changes in Queensland.

23. Review the status of all levee banks protecting regional Queensland townships. Especially those situated in flood prone catchments, and provide resources for improving such levee banks to protect the essential parts of these townships.

24. Provide the needed support and resources to flood information and response services including: upgrades to river monitoring and timely access to weather data, efficient rescue coordination especially for poorly accessible areas.

25. Protect and restore environmental flows where possible respecting the ephemeral flood prone nature of most large river catchments in Queensland.

Urban Catchment Water Resources

26. Provide support for local governments to review stormwater and wastewater flows and recycling, so as to understand the adaption requirements of existing urban infrastructure to deal with future climate changes in Queensland. Then subsequently contribute to any urgent infrastructure changes required.

27. Provide support for local government community engagement and creek river restoration programs, including support for catchment council officers.

28. Improve standards for sediment controls during all urban development and construction, including a system of properly supported and resourced monitoring and compliance regulation.

29. Expand and intensify urban catchment stormwater rubbish control programs via the Healthy Waterways Program.

30. Promote local area solutions for urban water cycle management, that encourages re-use and treatment of ‘human impacted’ water and that includes as a central aim the re-normalising of the natural flow characteristics of urban streams and rivers.

Drinking Water

31. Provide state assistance to upgrade all drinking water treatment systems where necessary, to ensure that water providers can supply drinking water at World Health Organisation and Australian Drinking Water Quality guideline standards.

32. Establish water efficiency standards for all appliances and a system to certify residential water efficiency to be provided at the point of sale.

33. Encourage the efficient use of limited supplies of drinking water by maintaining a range of permanent water restrictions.

34. Introduce and extend recycled water programs to achieve 'fit for purpose' water treatment standards, primarily for non-potable supply. Where recycled water is used to supplement drinking water supplies there must be transparent and rigorous safeguards to prevent impacts on public health.

35. Support water recycling particularly through local area dual supply networks for non-potable uses. Where recycled water is added to raw water storage dams (such as the Western Corridor Purified Recycled Water Scheme) this should occur continually to ensure maximum dilution and retention times. Rigorous water quality testing results for the water leaving the recycling system should be publicly available on a monthly basis.

36. Ensure fluoridation of potable water, to be funded by the state government.

37. Support an ongoing review of scientific research into the benefits and health risks associated with any additives to drinking water.

Underground Water

38.  Implement a program to cap all bores on non-productive land where a ‘current need’ cannot be demonstrated.

39. Restrict extractions from ground water aquifers so they do not exceed the recharge rate subject to and supported by scientifically comprehensive hydrological surveys.

40. Prohibit CSG produced water from existing CSG operations from being reinjected into aquifers. Instead purified CSG water, following strict guidelines and subject to rigorous monitoring, should be used to support ‘near-natural’ environmental flows or agricultural irrigation. Salts removed from purified CSG water must be dealt with in a way that does not impact; groundwater, surface water catchments, surface vegetation or coastal receiving waters.

Coastal Receiving Waters

41. Enhance and extend the Healthy Waterways Program to cover the major coastal cities in Queensland

42. Extend existing programs that work with agriculture and industry to control nutrients and sediments impacting on the Great Barrier Reef and other receiving waters.

43. Ensure that, any current or proposed future desalination plants are considered a ‘last resort’ option after all other water management option have been considered, are fully run on 100% renewable energy subject to, and are rigorous and properly supported independent review and monitoring to ensure ongoing environmental sustainability.

44. Ensure a focus on maintaining and restoring estuarine and receiving waters ecology in the face of ongoing human stressors, river flow changes and future climate change and sea level rise impacts including; rigorous regulation of sand and boating channel dredging, acid sulphate soils monitoring, coastal wetland protection, in urban development assessment, and regulation of fishing, aquaculture and marine parks. Any assessments of estuarine and coastal receiving waters should highly rank historical and current cultural and heritage values of Indigenous and Torres Straights Islanders.

45. Prohibit any large-scale dredging in Great Barrier Reef World Heritage waters. Additionally, no dredge spoil disposal will be allowed from any dredging operation in GBRWH waters or adjacent coastal areas if there is any risk to the ecology.

Policy Category: 
State:
QLD