Analysis of the Potential Impacts of the Coalition’s Draft Dam Plan

Summary

DAM Review coverDetails of a draft federal Coalition plan, known as the dam plan, were leaked to the media in February, 2013. This drafted plan suggested that as much as 100 new dams could be built across Australia to improve water security, provide flood mitigation and to power hydropower supply.

Unlike lakes, artificial reservoirs inundate land containing stored organic matter which is then  decomposed. In oxygenated water, this produces CO2 and in oxygen-limited water, methane (CH4), thus reservoirs are a sort of greenhouse gas emissions.

Within this analysis, I relied on the most recent and reliable data on reservoir greenhouse gas emissions, from a very limited study pool, to explore the potential additional greenhouse gas  emissions likely from the drafted dam plan, should the Coalition win the upcoming election and  implement it as policy.

Utilising the global averages yielded unreasonably high results. This is likely due to the comparatively old and low yield soils of Australia, which in turn produces low biomass. Instead analysing the annual Australian reservoir emission estimates and data on large dams within Australia, it is expected that an additional 100 dams would produce at least 0.61 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent annually.

This would need to be taken into account within the Coalition’s Direct Action Plan, thus requiring sequestration of an additional annual yield equivalent to 0.55 million m3 of wood from more than 15,000 hectares.

Click here to download the full report.

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