Traveston Dam decision looms


After two years of controversy, community hostility and political debate, the Queensland government has finally provided the federal environment department with a draft set of conditions under which it believes the planned Traveston Dam can proceed.

The conditions include measures aimed at providing more habitats for the endangered Queensland lungfish and Mary River turtle. Scientists have consistently opposed the plan to dam the Mary River on the grounds that it would risk sending the species into extinction.

Many water engineers say the dam would provide little water for Brisbane residents during periods of drought, and that Brisbane wouldn't run out of water for at least 20 years if recycled water and demand management measures were introduced.

The project is yet to receive federal government approval, but the state government has already spent more than $500 million on it, buying productive rural land, dwellings and small businesses in the Mary Valley, about 120km from Brisbane.

Residents of the area have vigorously campaigned to overturn the decision to build the dam. The campaign is supported by all of the local, regional and national environment organisations.

It is likely that federal environment minister Peter Garrett will receive a formal request from Queensland to approve the project within weeks. He is then expected to announce a 30-day consultation period, during which the public can make submissions, before he decides on the fate of the project.