Death of trees remains mystery

A GOGANGO farmer refuses to give up the fight to uncover what is killing trees on the banks of the Fitzroy River, as the State Government moves to implement a salinity trading scheme similiar to the federal carbon tax.

Lex Lawrie, of Moora Plains, said aged paperbark trees up to a metre thick had been dying during the past 18 months but tests had failed to reveal why.

"Tests from samples I have sent away only show that salt is present, no contaminants," Mr Lawrie said.

"Those tests have shown there is heightened salt content in the water but that it is still within the human consumption parameters."

When pumping water from the Fitzroy, Mr Lawrie was forced to stop adding nutrients due to constant mechanical breakdowns.

"When I add something to the water, the water reacts and clogs up everything with a thick, black muck," Mr Lawrie said.

Fearing erosion and danger to his cattle, Mr Lawrie has since fenced off the 15km river frontage of his grazing property.

On Friday, Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney said the government was investigating the salinity trading scheme following community concerns about water quality.

"We want to move in the long term to a trading scheme... so that we have a financial incentive for mines to decrease their allocation over a period of time," Mr Seeney said.

Capricorn Conservation Council co-ordinator Michael McCabe said the organisation was not in a position to determine the cause of the dying trees but welcomed the government's suggestion of trialling a salinity trading scheme.

Mr McCabe said he was familiar with Mr Lawrie's concerns but could add little to solving the issue.

"We don't quite understand all the interactions in the Fitzroy system," he said.

Mr McCabe said the scheme was modelled on one rolled out in the Hunter region, which had reduced salinity levels in the soil along the Hunter River.

"Jeff Seeney suggested a potential salinity trading scheme which is a bit like a carbon tax where, if a mine pollutes, they pay but if they reduce their emissions, they pay less," he said.


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