Protest group brings their mining concerns to Cataract Dam

Cataract Convoy close

The convoy at Cataract Dam

OVER 40 people visited Cataract Dam on Sunday to raise concern over what they claim is mining-related damage in the surrounding water catchment.

The convoy, organised by Protect Our Water Alliance (POWA), comes as two coal mines, Russell Vale Colliery and Mt Kembla’s Dendrobium, seek NSW State Government approval for expansions, despite mounting community concern over the impacts on the water catchment area above the Illawarra Escarpment.

POWA is calling for a permanent ban on mining underneath the Greater Sydney Water Catchment.

The community convoy started at Wollongong Railway Station, before travelling to Allan’s Creek at Unanderra, where they claim millions of litres of water is discharged daily from Mt Kembla’s Dendrobium Colliery.

The group also travelled to Redbank Creek at Picton, where POWA claims longwall coal mining has caused extensive cracking in rock beds.

The convoy finished at Cataract Dam, about 10km west of Bulli, where extensive mining operations have occurred beneath the reservoir since the 1970s.

Cataract Dam is currently only 26 per cent full.

Cataract at distance 2

The convoy at Cataract Dam, 10km west of Bulli

POWA spokesperson Dr Rada Germanos said Greater Sydney is the only region in the world where long wall mining occurs beneath vital water catchment areas.

Dr Germanos said in a time of severe drought, water restrictions and bush fires, reservoirs in the catchment continue to dwindle, currently holding between 25 and 45 percent capacity.

“Underground longwall mining is causing subsidence and surface-to-seam fractures in rock, Dr Germanos said.

“This has drained creeks and swamps, and is destroying carbon-capturing ecosystems, as well as sites sacred to Yuin and Dharawal peoples.

“A recent report from the Office of the Chief Scientist estimated that just two of the mines operating in the catchment are causing the daily loss of eight million litres of water. Other studies have estimated that the water loss from catchment mining is as high as 34 million litres per day. This poses clear threat to our region’s water security into the future.”

About Mick Roberts

A journalist, writer and historian, Mick Roberts specialises in Australian cultural history, particularly associated with the Australian hotel and liquor industry. Mick has had an interest in revealing the colourful story of Australian pubs and associated industries for over 30 years. He is working on a comprehensive history of the hotel and liquor industry in the Illawarra region of NSW. Besides writing a number of history books, Mick managed several community newspapers. He has been editor of the Wollongong Northern News, The Bulli Times, The Northern Times, The Northern Leader and The Local - all located in the Wollongong region. As a journalist he has worked for Rural Press, Cumberland (News Limited), the Sydney city newspaper, City News, and Torch Publications based in Canterbury Bankstown, NSW.


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