Walk for Water II – The Paris Pilgrimage: November 2015

We are excited to announce a second “Walk for Water” in 2015.

On November 30, world leaders meet in Paris to negotiate a new plan to address the pressing issue of our era, climate change.
We will walk for the first week of the UN Paris Climate Summit to learn what can be done, what the summit is talking about and reflect on the global change that is required.

Previously in February, a dedicated group of people from Western Sydney Environment Network led an eight day walk from the Cataract Dam South of Sydney. It is now six months after this finished, and some of our committee members are getting itchy feet to do it all again, this time as a pilgrimage to draw attention to the Paris climate talks.

In February, we followed the flow of the water for over 100 km from Cataract Dam to State Parliament following major water infrastructure, visiting MPs offices and holding public events along the way. Our focus then was the threat of Coal Seam Gas and coal mining on drinking water, and the dangers of water privatisation in compromising the public good in water decision making.

Since then we have been elated to gain commitments from the State government to cancel Coal Seam Gas in a large part of Sydney water catchments (except for Camden). The underground coal mining adjacent to our Southern Dams has continued, however the dropping price of coal has made some projects more precarious than they were before, particularly for Wollongong Coal.

This time, our focus is global. We will undertake the walk in solidarity with all the groups around the world working towards a world beyond coal and gas, in which we can find it in ourselves, our communities and our institutions to curb pollution, to stabilise carbon in the atmosphere and ensure a future of flourishing for diverse species and future generations of humans.

If you are interested in taking part, please fill in this short survey:  link here

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NOTE: All posts below this are from the original February Walk for Water and are being kept for historical reference.

What’s the walk about?

We need to protect Sydney’s water for future generations. In the lead up to the NSW state election, we want watertight assurance from party candidates that they will end the dangers to Sydney’s water quality, quantity and affordability.

Underground coal mining is cracking the tributaries of Cataract Dam and other reservoirs South of Sydney. Coal Seam Gas fracking has already come too close to houses and water infrastructure. We are also concerned that Sydney Catchment Authority – the authority on water quality- is being abolished and the government is further commercialising water provision. Our water supply is a public good and must be governed to ensure the public interest is honoured.

Join us to show community support for the wise governance of Sydney’s water.

Groups involved in the walk include Western Sydney Environment Network, Stop CSG Macarthur, Parramatta Climate Action Network (ParraCAN), Stop CSG Camden, Rivers SOS, Blacktown District Environment Group, Ryde Hunters Hill Flora and Fauna Society, Climate Change Balmain-Rozelle, Lock the Gate, Protect Sydney’s Water, Nature Conservation Council of NSW, Our Land Our Water Our Future.

Thank you also to Ryde-Epping Greens, Wollondilly ALP and Wollondilly Greens, Campbelltown ALP and Campbelltown Greens and the Wollongong Greens for their support. Register your participation here.

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Walk route: link to more detailed map.

ROUTE

From the Wollondilly Advertiser article: http://www.wollondillyadvertiser.com.au/story/2854953/water-walk-heading-through-macarthur/
From the Wollondilly Advertiser article: http://www.wollondillyadvertiser.com.au/story/2854953/water-walk-heading-through-macarthur/

Wrapping up

Over 350 people participated at one or more stage during the walk. There were nine events along the way, each with powerful speeches, imagery and symbolism as well as important knowledge shared.

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At the start and end of the journey, Dharawal man Lyle Davis gave us the water from Cataract Dam, and he took it back at Hyde Park fountain, drank it, and poured it in. On Thursday an interfaith ceremony brought together water from the Ganges and from Mecca among other special places, mixed in the common bowl, to remind us of how water evokes the sacred in our different spiritual traditions. The water was carried for 165 km, and Michael with the help of Antony saw it through for the journey.

Along the way we had numerous conversations- with gardeners from Holroyd Council who we exchanged campaign material with (they are against amalgamation and are worried about losing their jobs) as well as union workers concerned about privatisation. We workshopped poems and told stories. A papier mache Coalhead was there, Uncle Sam was there, a working model of longwall mining operation damaging water supply was there, as well as Beyond Zero Emission’s model of a solar thermal power station which turned up at least 4 times along the way (Thanks Terry).

Media
The walk  were covered by 10 different articles in local newspapers (some were syndicated, making the total higher than 10), including one front page article and picture in the Auburn Review. It was also covered by online site Independent Australia.net.There was also coverage by the 2GB network during the walk, with a great interview of Julie Sheppard about the coal mining threats to the Cataract Dam. One of the politicians we met along the way, [I think it was Guy Zangari] told us that one of his constituents was badgering him on the street soon after that interview about water catchments. I haven’t yet totalled the number of politicians or candidates we engaged with at various levels from lobbying to having them speak… I’m guessing more than fifteen.

Good News!
There was great news today that made the walk feel worthwhile for more reasons than building community, raising awareness and becoming healthier! Coal seam gas licenses over our drinking water catchments have been cancelled!  Isabel McIntosh, one of the dedicated walkers who walked several days, said it well on Facebook when she announced:

WOW! Baird just cancelled the three CSG licences covering Sydney Drinking Water Catchments – 442, 444, and 454! How about that…and there’s still 2 weeks to go before the election. NOW to stop any coal expansion in our catchments…fingers crossed for Wollongong Coal expansion PAC recommendation which will be out soon.

Evaluation
This week is a good time to reflect on the Walk for Water, and celebrate our achievements together with the broader movement. Please think about 1) what happened 2) how to improve 3) what to do next. You might want to write something and send it to us, or bring it along on the night, or just bring your thoughts.

You are invited to an Evaluation and Dinner

Friday March 20, 6pm for evaluation, 7pm for dinner. Come to one or both.

Himalaya Restaurant, 5 Good St Granville – 1 minute walk from station.
http://www.himalayarestaurant.com.au/granville/home


PS HUGE thanks especially to Antony Lewis (logistics, police liaison, route, filming, donations, Thursday interfaith event), Michael Streatfeild (logistics, media, route), Michael Rynn (driving van), Anne O’Brien (website, leaflets, meeting convenor), Isabel McIntosh (social media, encouraging us to participate in the Wollongong PAC hearing), Julie Sheppard (fact checking and Saturday’s event) Marina Farid and Dan Robins (Sat BBQ and Sunday’s event), Maria and Richard Maguire (Wednesday’s events), Leah Briers (Thursday interfaith event), Janet Ellis (Friday), Annie Nielsen (Saturday morning’s events, grant application, printing, logistics), John Carroll (treasurer, speaker on Thurs), Jules Wright, Kaye Osborn. Thanks also to the Nature Conservation Council of NSW for their support, particularly for the support with media (James Tremain) and with their generous grant.

PS some of us are going to see Frackman this Thurs in Campbelltown. Tickets are selling fast. You might be interested in joining us!

Good jobs in Western Sydney require good planning, not grovelling to mining companies… (and a Sydney city forum on Fri night)

On the same day we have an article in the Campbelltown and Macarthur Chronicle, the NSW Minerals Council takes out a full page ad saying “Hurt Mining, hurt Western Sydney”. Next to this ad, there is a special AGL gaslands tour advertised.

Chronicle-p.25-26

Jobs are a major concern for Western Sydney, with residents here bearing the brunt of manufacturing job losses in recent years. Between May 2011 and May 2012, 2943 manufacturing jobs were lost in Western Sydney, an annual decline of 3.3%. But it’s not mining that has any prospect of providing a glimmer on the horizon. In fact, mining has inflated the Australian dollar, contributing to making Australian manufacturing less internationally competitive. Jobs per megatonne of coal mined have also decreased over time with increasing mechanization of production. Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) for 2013 show the entire Gas & Mining Industry combined employed less than 0.2% or 20,700 Australians. This is only two thirds of the number of people employed at Bunnings. The Gas Industry would have you believe that in 2012 it created 100,000 jobs. They creatively inflate their figures by claiming incidental jobs outside their project. Those employed by CSG are only a fraction of that 20,700 and unfortunately this data is not collected by ABS.

What does offer hope, is a proactive approach by local, state and federal governments. A planned industry transition worked when the BHP Newcastle steel plant shut down from 1997- 1999 and it has worked in other cases.

Just Transitions forum

This Friday night (20 Feb), in the city at Pitt Street Uniting Church, there will be a forum about jobs beyond mining- what some people call a “Just Transition”. Hear more about it here.

And if you want to see the actual article in the Chronicle, I’ve pasted it below:

Chronicle-article1

Our Petition, and other ways to contribute

There are plenty of ways to contribute – you can walk, cycle (limited spots for the first leg if you’re fit), attend rallies, make or bring food, set up or clean up, drive a van, help painting banners, make signs, sew us some blue flags, come to meetings, debate ideas or messages, update or do a guest post on this website, call friends, get your organisation on board, share info on Facebook/Twitter, print and distribute brochures, play music for us, tell us a water story, donate money. Here are some details for donating via a crowdfunding site if you feel moved to contribute monetarily. If you would prefer to donate directly, contact us and we can send our bank details.

SIGN OUR PETITION Five days out from the walk we also launched a petition, on the Community Run site. Please sign and share with your friends.

WALK SCHEDULE – updated 24 February.

You can see our route mapped out here on google maps.

Remember to register for the walk here.

WEDNESDAY 25 February
9am walkers will begin walking from the Greystanes syphon at 160 Macquarie Street, will walk until Parramatta (12 km), where there will be speeches at 12.30pm -1.30pm outside Sydney Water, in support of Sydney Water employees and the Australian Services Union that represents them, taking a stand for water to be publicly owned, and governed for the common good.

THURSDAY 26 February
1pm walkers will begin walking from Sydney Water at Parramatta, and walk until Auburn Botanical Gardens (8km) where there will be an interfaith/ multicultural event in the Japanese garden at 4pm on the theme “Why protect water?” followed by refreshments at 5pm at the Peacock Gallery.

FRIDAY 27 February [note earlier starting time]
9am walkers will begin walking at Auburn Botanical Gardens, walking North East to Gladesville where we will meet at Ryde Park at 1pm followed by a meeting with Anthony Roberts (Mining Minister) at 2pm, then continue across Gladesville Bridge to Bridgewater Park beside Iron Cove Bridge at Rozelle (18 km)

SATURDAY 28 February
9.30am there will be some speeches, then at 10am walkers will begin walking at Bridgewater Park, Rozelle, and continue until Hyde Park, Sydney by 12pm and finish outside State Parliament, where there will be some symbolic actions and some speeches (8 km)

EVENTS ALREADY PAST

SATURDAY 21 February
Arrive at 10.00am for event at 10.30 am: community rally and filling up the water container at Cataract Dam, off Appin- Bulli Road, around 85 km South of Sydney. Speeches from Julie Sheppard, Alan Jones,  Jess Moore, with representation from Dharawal nation. MCed by Dan Robins.

Shortly after 11am, a limited number of cyclists will commence riding to Camden [2 spots still left, experienced cyclists only]. 2pm: BBQ at King Bush Reserve, Camden

SUNDAY 22 February
10am: walkers will begin walking from Kings Bush Reserve, Camden. (15km to Campbelltown)
2pm : BBQ and rally at Koshigaya Park, Campbelltown

MONDAY 23 February [note earlier starting time]
9am: walkers will begin walking from Koshigaya Park, will visit MPs in Campbelltown and walk for 30 km to Liverpool, will visit MPs, will finish at Light Horse Park

TUESDAY 24 February
10am walkers will begin walking at Light Horse Park, will continue until Taylor Street, Greystanes -Aqueduct and Syphon (20 km) [Syphon info link 1, link 2]

Visiting the Avon and Nepean Dams

On 21st December, five of the Walk for Water Organising Group visited the Nepean and the Avon Dams (the Avon being affected by coal mining), as well as the gasfields near Camden and the Mt Annan Botanic Garden. Here are some pictures from that journey [note that we will now be starting from Cataract Dam].

Our friends in Rivers SoS and Protect Sydney’s Water Alliance reminded us that the Avon dam is seriously damaged by coal mining,  with the cracks to wetlands feeding the dam kind of like drilling holes in a bucket.

Have a look at our meeting place underneath the Mars Hill Cafe. It’s pretty atmospheric! We will meet there again this Sunday, 11 Jan, 2pm. All welcome!

Our meeting room for Dec 30 and Jan 11 under Mars Hill cafe.
Our meeting room for Dec 30 and Jan 11 under Mars Hill cafe.