A recent study of private dams in the Moorabool Catchment, undertaken by People for A Living Moorabool (PALM), has been followed up by the ABC in their report ‘Suspected unlicensed dams multiplying across stressed river system reveal holes in Victoria’s water compliance’. The ABC article and video outlines how supporters of PALM, including downstream stream irrigators and farmers, reliant on the Moorabool River for stock and domestic needs, had expressed concerns that large private dams were being developed in the upper catchment.
Using Google Earth, PALM volunteers looked at dam storages across the catchment. With Google Earth’s capacity to compare historical satellite imagery, the volunteers were able to identify new and enlarged private dams that had been developed, particularly over the last decade. The group were then able to approximate dam volumes based on a recognised formula for Victorian dams. PALM obtained anonymised data on licenced dams within the Moorabool catchment; provided by Southern Rural Water (SRW). The group then cross-checked these dams to estimate the extent of new and enlarged dams.
PALM claims about 200 new private farm dams have appeared in the catchment, the majority since 2012; dozens of these dams appear to have been built on watercourses, which by law require a licence. Their research also suggests that the annual increase in new private dam volumes over the last 10 years was triple that predicted by Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action studies.
The ABC, with the help of ANU water scientist Matthew Colloff, has verified that several of the biggest dams flagged by the PALM group appear to be operating either outside their licence or without one.
PALM claims that the annual increase in new private dam volumes over the last 10 years was triple that predicted by Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action studies.
To read more about the background behind PALM’s research, visit the PALM website.