In-principle approval for at least 10 longwall mines which are expected to pass below Woronora Reservoir has been granted.
Rob Stokes, the Minister for Planning and Public Spaces, is currently considering whether to grant final approval for several of these to go ahead. We have been advised the decision is likely to be made early in 2020. Two of the mines under consideration, LW306 and 307, will run directly under Wororona Reservoir.
Whatever your political leanings or position on coal we believe this is a matter that goes beyond politics. Our water supply is simply too important to compromise.
Petitions in hard copy paper format can be presented for debate in the NSW Parliament — if they contain 10,000 signatures. Maintaining the integrity of our water supply is important – and should be given public consideration.
Please help us trigger this debate – and let other people know what is proposed. The mining under Woronora will go ahead if people do nothing to prevent it.
Once completed, mail the petition to:
Sutherland Environment Centre
PO BOX 589, Sutherland 1499, NSW, Australia
The Woronora Dam catchment is classified as a ‘Special Area’ – permission is required to enter. Fines for entering without permission can be up to $44,000. The following photo was taken on one of the few occasions permission was granted. People are not normally allowed into the area in case they cause damage, or pollute the water.
This photo is of Waratah Rivulet, which is a significant tributary leading to Woronora dam. Here the streambed has cracked and compressive forces have caused upsidence where the creek bed bulges – a result of mining related subsidence. All surface flow has been lost.
(image: Julie Sheppard)
The Wororona ‘Special Area’ catchment is covered with larger rivulets, streams and swamps. In the mine plan map below, the swamps are depicted in brown. Swamps play a critical role in filtering and purifying our water. The recent Independent Expert Panel Report into Mining in the Catchment has noted that damage to swamps from mining can be irreversible. The Report states mining should not be allowed on the basis that remediating swamps is possible. The mining company, Peabody, is currently working LW304.
Below is a video of pool N, which was a 150m long permanent pool of water. It’s part of the Waratah Rivulet that flows into Woronora dam. It remained full during the 2006/7 millennium drought. This video was taken in 2014 when it drained dry due to cracks in the bedrock.
If the water reemerges from these cracks in the bedrock it can be leached through with chemical contaminants including iron, aluminium and manganese, lithium, strontium, barium, titanium, zinc and nickel. Whether such contaminants are accumulating on the floor of the Woronora reservoir is unknown. A recent report with data, obtained by the ABC under freedom of information law, has found samples from Cataract and Cordeaux dams have exceeded acceptable limits more than 90 times in three years: ‘Shocking’ metallic sludge contaminating Sydney dams that supply drinking water
Eastern Tributary of the Waratah Rivulet July 2019, depicted below, showing heavy iron oxidising bacteria growth and iron oxyhydroxide floc contamination.
Water in this area is supposed to be pristine, and the water clean, filtered through natural streams and swamps – the water has changed to this rust colour because it drained underground through cracks caused by subsidence from longwall mining, and has come out again contaminated.
This water all runs directly toward Woronora dam.