Water facts

Relevant documents

Baw Baw Report

Water Investigation 2006 -TCHA

Write Letters to the Papers Age
Herald Sun
Weekly Times 

media releases../Baw_Baw_Report/Baw_Baw_Report.htmlLogging_water_catchments_files/Investigation%20into%20the%20Logging%20of.pdfLogging_water_catchments_files/Investigation%20into%20the%20Logging%20of.pdfmailto:letters@theage.fairfax.com.aumailto:hseditor@hwt.newsltd.com.aumailto:talk@mxnet.com.aumailto:wtimes@theweeklytimes.com.aushapeimage_4_link_0shapeimage_4_link_1shapeimage_4_link_2shapeimage_4_link_3shapeimage_4_link_4shapeimage_4_link_5shapeimage_4_link_6
Summary of water report release

‘Investigation into the Logging of the Thomson Catchment’

 ‘A Maroondah dam will be lost every year if Melbourne’s water is not protected from logging, and this will double if Government doesn’t stop logging our water supply’ is the warning from a new report released today on the status of Melbourne’s largest water catchment. 

Water watchdog, The Central Highlands Alliance (TCHA), gathered 40 years of scientific research on the effects of logging on water catchments and will present this to Premier Bracks and Liberal leader Ted Baillieu later this week.

The research confirms that logging, not only climate change and drought are the reasons for reduced water in our dams and water storages.

Sarah Rees, spokes person on the report said, “Premier Brumby must protect our water supply catchments from logging. Climate change is expected to make Victoria warmer and drier. CSIRO forecasts that by 2020, Melbourne will have 8% less water. To respond to our serious water supply challenges, it is vital that we save every drop. 

“The rain is simply not getting into the dam because logging is creating young thirsty forests. Right now, Melbourne is losing 1000 litres of drinking water every second to logging.”

Premier Brumby can secure his environmental legacy by securing water catchments. 

“Industries like logging continue to abuse the system for free water usage at our expense,” said Ms Bleyer, President of Lawyers for Forests

 “The evidence is clear, the dams are drying up and the Thomson, Melbourne’s largest dam, holding up to 60% of our drinking water cannot withstand any more logging.”

The Thomson catchment has been legislated to supply wood to pulp and paper giant Paperlinx., with at least  60% of the forests cut going to woodchips

“Ecosystem services that forests provide; such as clean air and water are clearly more important to Victorians than woodchips for copy paper which can be supplied by plantations.”

The Report claims that whilst many of Melbourne’s watersheds suffered during the fires of 1939, those forests are now old enough to be releasing water back into water storages, however logging is reversing this benefit.

Fires are also an increasing risk.

“Logging dries out the forests and increases access. The real risk this summer will be a fire in our catchments, the effects of which would be catastrophic.”

The report establishes that most of the rainfall in the catchment falls in approximately 1/3 of the catchment area and this is where almost all of the logging is concentrated.  
The Government burn the logged area and then reset the clock by sowing new, even aged trees. This type of management subjects our catchments to 150 years of big drinking, regrowing forests in the highest rain fall area.
 “With new dams costing hip pocket pain to the taxpayer and irreparable damage to the environment, a resolve to end logging in catchments and seek the same wood from plantations is a solution for industry, the environment and the Victorian community.” 

Key findings:

1. The Thomson Reservoir is situated along the eastern escarpments of Mount Baw Baw and carries approximately 60 percent of Melbourne’s water storage capacity  

2. The Thomson is a major water supply catchment upon which logging is permitted.  

3. The logging industry targets tall wet ‘Ash Forests' located within the high rainfall zones of the catchment. These forests cover only one third of the catchment, but supply nearly two thirds of the water flowing into the reservoir. 

4. The Water Resources Strategy Committee stated that if logging were to be phased out of the Thomson Catchment by 2020, it will provide an additional 20,000 Megalitres (ML), or almost the equivalent capacity of the Maroondah Reservoir near Healesville. 

5. The Upper Yarra Reservoir, Melbourne's third largest water storage facility, is heavily dependant on the Thomson Reservoir, which provides an average of 161,000 ML, via an underground pipeline, contributing 80% of its holding capacity and 20% of Melbourne's current water volume. 

6. The Thomson Water Catchment is closed to logging between 1 May and 30 November. Yet, the Department of Sustainability and Environment has allowed logging to continue within the seasonal closure, thus breaking the law and further compromising water quality.

20 page report an Investigation into the Logging of the Thomson Catchment

Water at the mercy of politics
The water debate meanders through many political twists and environmental turns, but at the end of the day the issue is neither political nor environmental but a social one. Managing our water sensibly is crucial so our government needs to respond strategically rather than reactively and must do so beyond the politics of environment.
The water scarcity campaign run by government is effective but perhaps not all together transparent, whilst we happily ignore murmurings of roping an Antarctic iceberg to bring home we cannot ignore that drinking our effluent may one day become our reality. Yes we consumers should attempt to save every drop but if the Government were earnestly seeking solutions, more fresh water is out there, so is the Victorian Government safeguarding marginal seats rather than fresh water?
In the politically heated region of Gippsland, two thirds of Melbourne's water sits in the Thomson dam, high in the Mountains of Baw Baw. In a recent reference report on the logging of the Thomson, a stinging indictment was delivered that a lack of future planning, censored science and poorly directed investment has left us with stressed water catchments. 
The Thomson, whilst built for emergencies and now our major use dam, has been logged to unsafe water loss levels. Back in 1996, a legislative agreement occurred between Amcor and the State Government to provide pulp logs from this catchment to Amcors mill to make paper. What was not considered was how logging the big drinking Ash forests could impact on water loss as climate change and drought barely tickled the thoughts of Government, subsequently scientifically illiterate legislation went ahead.
With seventy percent of the area of highest rainfall now logged, we are losing a Maroondah dam every year and we will see this double if logging continues. So why is Mr Bracks not acting? Could it be that the Thomson resides in the marginal seat of Narracan , where Liberal logging Boss Gary Blackwood  is the local member of parlament. And if that’s not enough to block changes to policy, Michael O’Connor, CFMEU Forestry boss has most of his membership in this region. So is it any wonder that saving Victoria’s biggest water supply is not on the political radar?
The solution is to transition the logging into the South West plantation resource until 2020 when Gippsland’s plantations mature. This would also allow wood buyers like Paperlinx, to pursue green forest certification for their products, a process prohibitive to recipients of wood sourced from high conservation value areas. No jobs will be lost as job demand is high in the South West. This debate should not be about environment nor politics but human welfare. Moving logging from catchments  awards Victoria another dam full of water, a big Australian company business advantage and the Bracks government another term based on progressive leadership.

Logging and water – implications for Melbourne 

Melbourne is facing a shortage of water. The city's catchments, located to the east of the city in the tall forests of the Central Highlands , can only supply a limited amount of water. As the city grows and demand increases, the ability of these catchments to meet consumption levels will become increasingly problematic. If consumption continues at current rates,the city is projected to be using the entire volume of the present system by the year 2012. 

There are ten catchments currently supplying Melbourne's water needs. Five of these catchments, Maroondah, O'Shannassy, Upper Yarra, Wallaby Creek and Plenty River make up 60% of the area of Melbourne's water catchments - 34% of Melbournes water intake . They also form part of the Yarra Ranges National Park and Kinglake National Park, with Parks Victoria and Melbourne Water being the responsible land managers.(DSE 2003) 

These five catchments are sometimes referred to as ‘protected water supply catchments', which means that they are used primarily for water supply and the public has very limited access and no timber harvesting is allowed. .(DSE 2003) 

The remaining five catchments make up 40% of the area of Melbourne's water catchments -66%.of Melbournes water intake . These are Cement Creek, Armstrong Creek, McMahons Creek, Starvation Creek (collectively known as the Yarra Tributaries), and the Thomson Reservoir. These catchments are predominantly in State forest and are referred to as ‘restricted access catchments'. This means they are available for some other uses including tightly controlled timber harvesting and, in area is harvested and regenerated on average each year .(DSE 2003) 

Total catchment capacity – 570,000 megalitres or 570 billion litres per year. 

Water demand increases by 0.9% each year. 

We will be using our entire supply by 2012- we at the TCHA camp are referring it to ‘Peak water’ for Melbourne

Clearly, action needs to be taken to increase security of supply. Water resource assessments have not factored in the risk of reduced water supplies due to global warming. The possible effects of global warming further increase the need to increase security of supply.


The most absurd thing of all is that WWF Australia has endorsed the logging of Melbourne’s water supply, despite its high conservation value, despite its horrific impact on animals and despite its detrimental effect on Melbourne’s water supply- WWF are endorsing the logging company destroying this area ITC WWF.pdf

These photo’s have been taken across Baw Baw, you think it looks bad from where you are sitting...standing in these coupes knowing these are sites of international recognition, once homes to endangered animals and the lost tourism opportunities to local communities is sincerely heart breaking...When the logging industry argue jobs, TCHA have nothing to say...