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Thursday, 17 August 1972
Page: 213

Senator MULVIHILL asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice:

(1)   How does it come about that the Commonwealth and New South Wales Governments have agreed in principle to construction of a dam at Googong on the Queanbeyan River before the results of investigations into its environmental consequences have been completed.

(2)   Docs the State of New South Wales require an environmental impact statement to be filed in respect of major developments, such as dams, prior to their approval.

(3)   Has an environmental impact statement been prepared and filed in respect of Googong dam; if not, why not.

(4)   If a statement has been prepared, will the Minister table it in Parliament.

(5)   Will the Minister give an assurance that preliminary work on the proposed Googong Dam will not commence until after environmental investigations have been completed and measures to control mineral pollution in the Molonglo River have been implemented.

(6)   What approximately is the estimated total cost of the whole project including land sequestration, dam construction and pollution control.

(7)   What would be the cost of a tunnel from Tantangara Dam to the Cotter River thereby linking it to the existing Canberra water supply.

(8)   What are advantages in proceeding with the Googong proposal that the Minister referred to in his answer to Question No. 5408 in the House of Representatives (Hansard, 2nd November 1971, page 2889).

(9)   Will the Minister provide a more specific answer to part 17 of the above Question asked in the House of Representatives.

Senator COTTON (New South WalesMinister for Civil Aviation) The Minister for the Interior has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1)   An extensive investigation into possible sites for future dams for the purpose of supplementing Canberra's water supply commenced in 1967. These investigations have included environmental matters. Subsequent detailed discussions between officers of the Commonwealth and the State of New South Wales led to an agreement in principle to construction of a dam at Googong. This decision was announced on 13th April 1972. The concept of an impact statement' designed to protect the environment was first outlined in the Senate by the Attorney-General on behalf of the Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts on 24th May 1972.

(2)   . (3) and (4) The New South Wales Government has not indicated that it requires an environmental impact statement on this project.

(5)   There have been continuing discussions between Commonwealth and State officers in the matter of regulations for the control of the catchment. These regulations are designed to protect the water supply and also to preserve the environment of the catchment without unduly inhibiting good farming practice.

Reduction of the degree of mineralisation of the Molonglo River is required quite apart from the Googong project and is a matter currently receiving the attention of Commonwealth and State officers.

The Googong Dam is essential for the provision of an adequate supply of water to the expanding city of Canberra and work on its construction will commence as soon as possible.

(6)   The estimated cost is of the order of 130,000,000.

(7)   No estimate has been made of the cost of a tunnel from Tantangara Dam to the Cotter River.

(8)   The advantages of the Googong proposal are:

(i)   it is the lowest cost water storage available;

(ii)   precipitation in the Queanbeyan River catchment is influenced by coastal rain bearing winds, whereas in the Colter River catchment, it is dependent on the prevailing south and south-westerly winds.

If two catchments influenced by such differing weather patterns are utilised then the effect on Canberra's water supply of drought in either catchment is minimised.

(9)   Officers of the Commonwealth and the State of New South Wales are investigating the actual causes of pollution of the Molonglo River arising from the Captains Flat Mine.

Remedial measures will be the subject of further discussions.

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