Seagroatt effort a waste of time

30 Sep, 2004 07:00 PM
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NAREMBEEN farmer John Hall claims CALM is wasting time and money in its approach to repairing Seagroatt Reserve.

CALM will investigate, at a cost of $50,000, 11 options for alleviating the damage to the area, which it believes is linked to waste from the Narembeen deep drainage network.

The network is designed to tackle the area's salinity problem and terminates nearby.

Mr Hall said CALM could not stop existing drainage from continuing, but he was concerned any future drainage applications in the area would be rejected.

He said putting an arterial drain through the Seagroatt Reserve was a simple solution to the problem that would allow drainage to continue safely.

"I've been pushing for years for somebody to do something to fix up the reserve," he said.

"Why they've gone through all these options is beyond me, we know what the answer is.

"With all that money they could have fixed the problem once and for all."

He said the drain could feed into another drain that existed north of the reserve, or it could be directed into the Kurrenkutten Lake.

Among the options that CALM is investigating are diverting the drainage around the reserve, filling in the drainage network, redefining the drainage network and using localised storage, a combination of all strategies or retaining the current situation.

Mr Hall said storage options were based on poor science.

"Salt destroys, if you've got freshwater in clay then that's fine, but saltwater will destroy clay," he said.

"All these people saying keep the salt up here don't know what they are talking about."

He said government agencies had known about heavy metals in deep drainage flows since 1995 but had done nothing about it.

"We need to see a coherent management body start talking about soil," he said.

He agreed the drainage network was accelerating the decline of Seagroatt Reserve.

"But if you look at the other side of the reserve it looks the same, so it's probably a foregone conclusion, in any event, the problem is easily rectified, and when it is rectified the trees will come back easily," he said.

CALM Wheatbelt regional manger Paul McClusky said the 11 options were the result of 15 months of research into the problems at Seagroatt Reserve.

He said a stakeholder meeting last week had favoured a combination of different options.

He said the option of putting a drain through the reserve was likely to be investigated due to support at that meeting.

"The question is where do we start and where do we finish," he said.

"There's people who want to just get on and do something.

"Our concern is it must fit in to a catchment plan, and we need to justify it to the Conservation Commission in that respect."

He said CALM was not ready to make a decision on the reserve strategy and was more concerned with collecting landholder input and local knowledge.

CALM needed to provide for the entire local community, which included those for and against drainage.

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