Monday, March 17, 2014


The following letter was sent to the Editor of the Gold Coast Bulletin on 18 March 2014 in response to an article on the reported water shortage at Springbrook. The article is reproduced below.


I refer to the article by JeremyPrice published in the Gold Coast Bulletin on 12 March 2014: Soft drink giant Coca-Cola blamed for Springbrook National Park water shortage. The article concludes with the statement: "CCA extracts groundwater from its site in the Springbrook area and is compliant with conditions set by the Gold Coast City Council."

The Springbrook/Wunburra Progress Association Incorporated objected to the original planning application that sought approval to extract water from Springbrook for commercial purposes. It seemed that, at the time, no one knew very much about the local groundwater, its origins and replenishment, and the impact that any extraction might have on the rocky plateau region that is known and named by its water features: ‘spring’ and ‘brook.’

The resulting approval of this application came with a set of conditions. For some unknown reason, these were unusually scheduled in two parts: Part A and Part B. From memory, Part A dealt with the practical matters relating to: licensed drivers; registration of vehicles; times of travel; colour of sheds (green); and the concealment of the parked vehicle(s). Part B related to the broader issues that had been raised by the Association and required the applicant to undertake research into the water and the impacts of extraction. This approval strategy has become the approach to all applications that now overcome objections with an array of conditions. Consider the recent approval to dump mud on the Great Barrier Reef.

In spite of this Part B condition, it seems that we know just as little today about Springbrook ground water and the impacts of continued extraction as we did at the time of the original application. There were suggestions that this is ancient water that tracks down from New Guinea, but no one seems to know much about the flow, or about its replenishment, or environmental importance. The statement that all conditions have been complied with raises the questions: what research has been undertaken on this subject? Where are the studies? What are the results?

That water extraction might be continuing when so very little is still apparently known about its origin, its environmental role, and its replenishment remains a serious concern and begs the further questions: have all conditions really been complied with? Is it responsible to continue extracting ‘spring’ water from bores when so very little is apparently known about the impacts of this activity? Do we know what we are doing to this beautiful World Heritage place?

Spence Jamieson

The original article:

Soft drink giant Coca-Cola blamed for Springbrook National Park water shortage
Jeremy Price
Gold Coast Bulletin
March 12, 2014 5:05pm
UPDATE: Cascading streams tumbling over Purlingbrook Falls are the kind of thing money can't buy - and Coca-Cola Amital doesn't have to.
The international soft drink giant is under fire from locals in the tiny Gold Coast community of Springbrook over its water-pumping operation to produce Mount Franklin spring water.
Coca-Cola has a lease to extract water from groundwater at Springbrook - and they don't have to pay a cent.
Under the terms of the agreement, Coca-Cola are restricted to operating from 8.30am-5pm six days a week and can take two tanker loads each day - but there is no limit on how much water they are allowed to take per visit.
Acting Gold Coast Mayor Donna Gates hinted that it might be time to renegotiate the terms of Coca-Cola's arrangement on Springbrook.
"It's a very old approval and it probably needs to be updated," she said.
"It's possible that a new material change of use application might be needed to alter their operations up there."
The council's development compliance department is now investigating complaints by Springbrook residents about Coca-Cola's operations, but Councillor Gates said there was no evidence the company was breaching its obligations.
EARLIER: The world's biggest soft drink company is embroiled in a water war affecting one of our most famous national parks.
Residents of Springbrook are in a fizz over Coca-Cola Amatil's water pumping operation to produce their Mount Franklin spring water.
The matter is now under investigation by Gold Coast City Council's development compliance department.
Coke has had approval for the operation since 2006, but residents say Springbrook's creeks and streams have never looked worse.
Do you think Coca-Cola's pumping operation should be downsized or stopped? Let us know in the comments section below
Even after recent rain, the iconic Purling Brook Falls looked more like a trickle yesterday, while other nearby watercourses have gone from cascading creeks to stagnant swamps as Coca-Cola continues to extract thousands of litres of water from the region every day.
Ceris Ash has lived on the mountain for more than a decade and said immediate action was needed.
"They are threatening the world heritage values of Springbrook National Park," she said.
"They are taking their water out of the ground, but that all still feeds into the creeks and streams that go through the national park and down to the coast. We have an incredibly sensitive ecosystem here with rare animals and trees found nowhere else on the planet."
The national park made headlines last month with the discovery of a previously unknown mammal species named the black-tailed antechinus, while the world's last remaining Eucryphia Jinskii trees are found only in Springbrook National Park.
A Coca-Cola spokeswoman said the Springbrook operation followed strict guidelines.
"CCA extracts groundwater from its site in the Springbrook area and is compliant with conditions set by the Gold Coast City Council," she said.
"We are just one of 50 or more bore sites in the area, and we support a sustainable water plan for the whole area which must include all water users."
Area councillor Glenn Tozer confirmed residents had complained about the situation and the department of development compliance was investigating whether the company was breaching its commitments.
(Images above from News article - Purlingbrook Falls).

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