River Restoration (Europe)

Sustainable river restoration helps to achieve European Directives such as the Water Framework Directive and the Habitats Directive. The RESTORE project aims to develop the tools and skills to enable the restoration of rivers for future generations creating sustainable river environments. This is to be achieved through both the consideration of natural processes and the river management needs of modern society. River restoration activities that reconnect river channels with their natural floodplain are considered to result in habitat and biodiversity improvements, as well as reduction of flood risk to communities downstream. This helps achieve European targets and gain benefits for wildlife and local the local community.

RESTORE is here.

The European Centre for River Restoration (ECRR), with its useful websites on rivers, is here.

RiverWiki with its 500 case studies of river restoration is here.

Pilliga Gas Project (Australia)

The Federal Minister for the Environment, Australia, has ruled the Santos’ plan to explore for coal seam gas (CCG) in the Pilliga is not a “controlled action” under the federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act. This means the new “water trigger” in the Environment and Biodiversity Protection Conservation Act is not invoked (Santos already has state NWS permissions), and a full environmental impact study is not required.

In June, Santos itself made a referral under the federal Environment and Biodiversity Protection Conservation Act seeking federal clearance for the program.

In July, the federal Environment Department confirmed it had received 3,800 submissions concerning Santos’ planned development, the vast majority of which opposed the project. Here is the web presence of one of the campaign groups.

Here is the ABC news article on the Federal Minister’s decision.

Conditions are:

(1) If the threatened Pilliga Mouse, Regent Honeyeater or Koala are found in pre-clearance surveys, no construction is to take place during their breeding season.

(2) Staff and contractors must attend an induction by an ecologist;

(3) The groundwater must be monitored; and

(4) There must be log book records kept of flora and fauna.

The Minister’s decision allows for the felling of up to 400 hollow-bearing trees and the removal of up to 235 Cobar Greenhood Orchids.

Per the ABC news article – Santos says it’s pleased to learn its activities in the Pilliga do not impact water resources or other Commonwealth matters of national environmental significance. Spokesman, Sam Crafter, says the Commonwealth’s decision allows Santos to drill 15 new wells and turn on existing pilots already built by the former operator, Eastern Star Gas.

Clean Water Act “Definition of Waters of the United States” (US)

A new rule will clarify the waters to be regulated under the US Clean Water Act (CWA).

Here is the USEPA webpage with information and giving access to applicable documents, including the results of action in the US courts, and the current definition being referred to (40 CFR 230.3(s)).

Already in operation is draft guidance – see here for the USEPA summary of the 2011 draft guidance.

Here is the 2011 draft guidance itself.

Here is 40 CFR 230.3 (CWA definitions) on its own. The definition of “waters of the United States” – waters subject to the US federal Clean Water Act – is found at 40 CFR 230.3(s) on the next page at (s)).

The definition is also found at 40 CFR 122.2 here. Scroll down to waters of the United States or waters of the US.

EPBC Water Trigger Query (Australia)

Consultation on new draft Guidelines has just closed – see here for the documentation.

The EPBC is Australia’s national environmental law – the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act). 2013 amendment has inserted a mandated (national-level) assessment of water resources impacts (a water trigger for project referral) into the process of approving new coal seam gas and large coal mining activities (this does not apply to shale gas).

Before the amendment was made, projects with water related risks could only be regulated at national level if they had implications for existing matters of national environmental significance eg. nationally endangered plants or animals.

This location gives further information on the new water trigger.

See here for the consolidated law (the water trigger is provided for by inclusion of coal seam gas and large coal mining at Chapter 2 Part 3 Subsection FB).