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Dawson River, Floodplains and Wetlands

The beautiful Dawson River in central Queensland, and its floodplains and wetlands, are under enormous threat from coal and coal seam gas mining. The Dawson starts in the foothills of the Carnarvon Range and flows east through Taroom and then north towards Moura. It is a major tributary of the Fitzroy River, which is the main water supply for Rockhampton.

The Dawson faces multiple heavy threats - a proposal for an enormous dam to supply water for coal mines, the current and planned discharge of treated wastewater from coal seam gas mining into the river and its tributaries, and a large number of planned open-cut coal mines and gasfields in catchment areas including 6 open-cut coal mines proposed near Taroom. At risk is the quality of drinking water supply to Rockhampton and other regional centres, the integrity of the nationally important Palm Creek wetlands, the survival of active Great Artesian Basin spring wetlands, and the future of an important river system.

The proposed Nathan Dam, if approved, will flood 72km of the Dawson River and cover 32,000 acres of land - which is more than twice the size of Sydney Harbour. It will hold 888 billion litres of water and flood all the way back up to the township of Taroom. It will inundate 22 unique and nationally significant springs of the Great Artesian Basin, known as Boggomosses, which include one of only two known population sites for the critically endangered Boggomoss Snail. The Dam will effectively destroy the Dawson River as a major intact river system, drowning highly productive floodplains along with some 8,250 acres of vegetation which forms a riverine corridor that is habitat for 216 different animal species.

The discharge of treated coal seam gas wastewater into the Dawson River and its tributaries will cause changes to water quality and natural flows, and coal seam gas mining itself in catchments and adjoining creeks also poses a substantial risk. Under threat are the nationally important Robinson and Palm Tree Creek Wetlands - a chain of more than 200 lakes, swamps and wetlands stretching across 100,000 acres along the floodplains and waterways of the Robinson and Palm Tree Creeks. The Wetlands form a kind of oasis - supporting extensive growth of palms and providing habitat for many waterbirds including Magpie Geese and Cotton Pygmy-Geese. They area located  approximately 15km north-west of Taroom and flow east into the Dawson River - falling within the expansion area now sought by Santos for drilling of 6,100 new coal seam gas wells.