A fine of $44,000 awaits anyone who enters the “Special Areas” to inspect the damage from mining taking place underneath, thus most of the damage is hidden. Some of Sydney’s most reliable rainfall-fed drinking water sources have been cracked and drained by underground longwall coal mining, upstream from Woronora, Cataract, Cordeaux and Avon dams. Rivers SOS has done incredible work advocating in this area. Here is an example of their work in documenting damage to the lower Cataract River.
Wetlands purify and hold water like a sponge, helping to drought-proof Sydney. They are significant for Aboriginal people and are also homes for rare animals and plants. The walk will begin at the Nepean Dam to highlight such dangers to the upper Nepean catchment.
Pollution from fracking
Coal seam gas (CSG) fracking is now taking place within 300m of housing in the Camden and Campbelltown regions. The walk will pass these areas on the first and second days. Most of Sydney is covered by Coal Seam Gas exploration licenses. These were temporarily frozen by the state government, but can be reactivated at any time. Apex Energy has a license near Warragamba Dam, and more recently the State Government’s Chief Scientist report could open the door to more fracking in Sydney’s water catchment.
CSG fracking is not friendly to our environment or communities, with health impacts reported in numerous regions near CSG wells.
Preparing to sell water to corporations
The NSW state government is dismantling Sydney Catchment Authority at a time when its expert knowledge on protecting drinking water from mining is crucial.
In addition, the Federal government has offered funding to State governments as an incentive to privatise water. Premier Mike Baird welcomed this but has not yet publicly introduced the idea of privatization. This is likely to occur after the election (as with ports).
The Australian Services Union is on the forefront of defending Sydney’s water from privatisation, and the walk seeks to also support their work. Here is their website called “Sydney Water not for Sale”.
Privatisation tends to lead to price increases, declining working conditions, fewer workers, less maintenance and lower quality service. Sydney’s very expensive desalination plant has demonstrated the high cost, and Adelaide’s‘Big Pong’ in the 1990’s demonstrated poor service. Full privatisation would make water saving very difficult next time a drought hits Sydney. Scarce water would be allocated to those who can pay. What company would reduce consumption when they are trying to make a profit?