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sydney alternative media - non-profit community independent trustworthy
Friday, 18 July 2008
Is this how Coca Cola pick and choose their expert evidence to destroy Peats Ridge Springs?
Mood:  blue
Topic: legal


Here is a letter from Alex Wagstaff, Director Corporate Affairs, Coca Cola Amatil (Aust) Pty Ltd to the local community group.

He says many of the right words but actually leans on their nominated expert from Melbourne Anthony Lane from 2006 litigation, who became the court appointed expert. Well and good so far for CCA but the CV for Mr Lane who is indeed very qualified is very heavy on contamination and pollution of groundwater. He does look light on for complex interplay of Sydney sandstone geology and multiple narrow underwater streams which lay people think of a "the aquifer" under Peats Ridge Springs. Is this why CCA pushed him forward?

As we will see from Sydney based experts and actual bore hole drilling results there is multiple narrow semi confined streams or channels which make up "the aquifer" which may be less productive the lower you go! In other words in sandstone the water table is not monolithic, it is more like swiss cheese. Hence the alarm of the local farmers over big constant extractions who have learned this reality over decades: That groundwater is more chancy than the experts and CCA have been saying.

But now the real Sydney based scientific expertise is catching up with both Mr Lane and Coca Cola Amatil.

We have been grovelling through a 2 foot pile of documents this last week and we may or may not miss our deadline for putting this scientific evidence into the court due to be filed and served (in Gosford!) today 18th July 2008. But we will make sure it's in the court of public opinion where CCA and Mr Lane and the Land & Environment Court in terms of procedural fairness, and Gosford Council, ultimately have to account to society and their own consciences. Not least in the age of extreme drought every 2 years as per recent CSIRO report as regards agricultural water supplies:

First the big talking letter of Wagstaff at CCA, and a preface: His subtext well understood by financial stakeholders in the region is to seek to get a metric on the other licensed (and no doubt unlicensed eg sand mine) water users on Peats Ridge/Mangrove Mountain, in order to shut them down or take over their allocation by hook or by crook. Because the truth is the whole district has been badly over allocated and this is the scandal the State Govt also wants to hide, not least sand miners as big water users. No wonder ex minister Koperberg called water licensing "diabolical". No wonder current water minister Rees who studied horticulture is taking an interest.

This is the critical context that has caused the "Water war" on Mangrove Mountain. Everyone meaning farmers, water bottlers, sandminers, council water authority, public servants, politicians, local media, all know in their heart the groundwater is over allocated not least for unlicensed use, and yet then DIPNR, now DWE (NSW Govt) allowed a selective major increase of license 26ML to 66ML/YR to one water user Coca Cola Amatil in 2005-6, who also just happens to be a big political donor, thankyou ex Minister Craig Knowles! This does actually smell. So over to Mr Wagstaff first:


Mr Wagstaff was responding to this heartfelt letter about staff layoffs, lost trees, decreased crop production in the hard drought conditions, which local pess and politicians were all wringing their hands over too:

So what about the science? Who has a real grip on the intricate water supply/groundwater system? The Sydney based experts shut out by the cost of the legal process, or the Melbourne based expert, and will the two synthesise to do justice to the community in 2008?

The locals were so exasperated after the 2005 litigation they tried to update Commissioner Moore after CCA got a provisional 2 year trial on the strength of their company expert Dr Beck. (It is Dr Beck who has been replaced by Mr Lane later by 2006.) As you will see from the advice of Dr Brian Marshall, and the drilling results below blow the thesis of a huge monolithic aquifer as big as the mountain itself, out of the .... pardon the pun.

Here is Adjunct Professor Marshall's description of the Sydney Sandstone complex aquifers in the same context in the Blue Mountains:

In early 2006 the Mangrove Mountain District Community Group make the same point as Marshall about the highly chancy and intricate sourcing of bore water in such underway streams known lazily as a monolith aquifer or water table. Only there's is from real life hard earned experience that frankly put some folks to shame treating the groundwater on Mangrove Mountain like a bathtub. It just isn't so.







Posted by editor at 8:41 AM NZT
Updated: Sunday, 20 July 2008 1:19 PM NZT

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