Water works: How to fill mine focus of latest Eden Project Anglesea community meeting
EDEN Project’s plan to turn an old industrial site in Anglesea into a $150 million-dollar tourism attraction is forging ahead, but the project faces the issue of turning the open-cut coal mine into a 100-hectare lake quickly enough.
The mine on the old Alcoa site is eight per cent full, with the water levels steadily rising since the mine was closed just under four years ago. But to wait for it to reach full capacity on its own would take approximately 50 years.
At an Eden Project community update meeting in Anglesea on Monday night, Eden Project chief executive David Harland said an alternative way to fill it needed to be found quickly.
“No water-body, no Eden,” he said.
Alcoa site manager Warren Sharp said Alcoa’s preferred option was to restore Salt Creek to its original course, which would see water diverted into the mine.
Salt Creek was originally diverted from its original path more than 50 years ago to ensure the water would not run into the mine.
Based on historic averages, Alcoa said it would take about five years for the mine to fill up if Salt Creek flowed into it.
However, for this to be done, permission is needed from the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP), which is made difficult by Sustainable Diversion Limits (SDLs).
SDLs look to maintain healthy rivers and streams by placing a limit on how much water can be diverted from certain catchments.
In this instance, they provide a legal barrier to Salt Creek being diverted into the mine. Alcoa is still hopeful it can resolve the issue with DELWP.
Another option canvassed at the meeting was to fill the mine with recycled water.
On Tuesday, Barwon Water general manager strategy, systems and environment Seamus Butcher said Barwon Water was investigating whether there was sufficient capacity in the existing network to meet the requirements of the Eden Project, and that it intended to have the information ready to share with stakeholders later this year.