** Impacts to the Ramsar listed Macquarie Marshes and migratory birds to be recognised as significant in Environmental Impact Statement! **
Public comment was recently invited on the EPBC Act referral for the Macquarie River re-regulating weir – which is a proposal to build another dam on the Macquarie River upstream from the Ramsar listed Macquarie Marshes.
This document will inform the Environmental Impact Statement for the project. WaterNSW prepared the referral, for the consideration of the federal environment department. In their proposal, WaterNSW considered that the impact of the new dam on the Macquarie Marshes and on migratory birds would not be significant.
Many of you prepared submissions, and disagreed with WaterNSW, instead identifying many ways that the dam would in fact have very significant impacts on the wetlands and the migratory birds that rely on them.
** YOU WERE HEARD! **
The environmental impact statement will now look closely at the significant impact the dam would have on the Macquarie Marshes and migratory birds.
An alternative to the dam proposal was presented in the referral, that the current Gin Gin weir be replaced where it is – without the capability of creating a new dam. Any new structure would also have to incorporate a fishway. This would be a great outcome for the Wambuul Macquarie River!
The referral 2020-8652 – referral_Final produced by WaterNSW identified a lot of significant impacts that the dam is expected to have. Here’s a quick summary:
- Reduced inflows into the Macquarie Marshes – small flows in dry years are critical to the Marshes.
- 30km of river banks vegetation would be drowned.
- Loss of habitat types such as riffle zones due to flooding and decreased water quality.
- Loss of aquatic and river bank habitat for 30km.
- Loss of snag habitat and spawning sites for vulnerable Murray Cod.
- Native fish eggs would sink in the still water and die on the bottom of the river.
- Fish in the area would have limited movement, even with the fishway, which is not enough to counteract the loss of habitat.
- Loss of flowing river habitat.
- The river banks will degrade and erode, land most likely will have to be lined with rocks for 30km – creating a sterile lifeless in channel dam.
- Impacts to the groundwater recharge and groundwater dependent ecosystems.
- Threats to native fish listed under the Fisheries Management Act – Eel-tailed catfish, Olive Perchlet Southern Spotted Purple Gudgeon, Silver Perch, Trout Cod as well as Murray Cod.
- A registered Aboriginal heritage site will be inundated by the resulting weir pool.