Tuesday, 31 July 2007

The "Not A Drop" dog

Family pet as mobile protest - "Emma" wearing a winter coat
adorned with The Daily Examiner bumper sticker protesting
the Howard-Turnbull push to steal Clarence fresh water.

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Howard - going to hell in a handcart

One has to chuckle at the results of a recent The Australia Institute survey.
In a field of six prominent politicians, put before 928 respondents aged between 18-64 years, Prime Minister John Howard was ranked as the least likely to go to heaven.
With 47 per cent saying he deserves to go to heaven and 53 per cent saying he does not.
Respondents appear to have been markedly divided along party lines when it came to John Winston Howard's worthiness for heaven.
[Hamilton,C & Fear,J,(July 2007),"Do politicians deserve to go to heaven?:Public attitudes to prominent Australians",Research Paper No.47,The Australia Institute]

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Monday, 30 July 2007

What the Clarence Valley is fighting for (4)

Dawn on the Clarence River estuary

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Sunday, 29 July 2007

Howard-Turnbull game plan?

1. Be ever mindful that truth should not be allowed to hamper political goals. 
2. Keep repeating the mantra that States have the ultimate responsibility to provide secure and sustainable water supplies to Australian towns and cities.
3. Sadly inform anyone who will listen that State Labor governments are seriously failing this responsibility.
4. Insist that, in the public interest, the Commonwealth needs to further investigate all current water diversion options on their merits before it undertakes future planning to secure Australia's water supplies or before new water investments are undertaken.
5. Make a spurious approach to the NSW Government over the issue of NSW Northern Rivers catchments.
6. If the NSW Labor Government resists this approach, suspend all future funding of water supply schemes within the state.
7. Call a Friday media conference and announce that the Commonwealth will be forced to enact legislation transferring control of waters in all or some NSW Northern Rivers catchment areas, in order to ensure a national holistic approach to Australian water supply.
Being sure to point out that the Federal Government believes this is also a fiscally responsible move as an integrated (possibly interstate) water supply, controlled by the Commonwealth, will be cheaper to establish and operate than separate State schemes.
8. If the Queensland Government refuses to endorse this move or fails to cooperate, threaten to cease further water project funding in Queensland and also threaten to take total control of the Border Rivers catchments.
9. Above all, ensure that all decisions, concerning potential Clarence River water diversion, are made using a bureaucratic, top-down model which will remove Clarence Valley residents from any meaningful dialogue over the fate of the Clarence River, its tributaries, communities and industries. 

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Saturday, 28 July 2007

Have you noticed............(5)

It seems that the NSW Nationals MP for Clarence and the Federal Nationals candidate for Page can become quite talkative in newspapers sourced outside the Clarence Valley.
'But Page Nationals candidate Chris Gulaptis said he had discussed the issue with deputy prime minister Mark Vaile during Mr Vaile's visit to the region on Tuesday and the federal government "does not have a plan to dam local rivers."
Mr Gulaptis said the plan, like the GST, could only happen if the states supported it.
He said the Gold Coast's and Brisbane's water problems were as much a result of poor planning as they were of the drought, and that government initiatives like subsidies for rainwater tanks were a better way to fix the problem.
Clarence MP Steve Cansdell, who has claimed the Clarence would be dammed "over his dead body "agreed with Mr Gulaptis, saying "the issue was now closed."'
[The Northern Rivers Echo,Lismore,online,"Rudd vows to scrap dam plan",26 July 2007].
Pity that the Prime Minister and Minister for Environment and Water Resources are not playing to the local Nationals' script. It must cause Messrs. Gulaptis and Cansdell some heartburn when Canberra's actions keep contradicting their spin.

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Definition of a Howard government

Clarence Valley residents are casting about for a suitable definition of a Howard government.
After recent statements by Messrs. Howard and Turnbull, the following is one definition favoured by some:
"fascism n. 1. a governmental system with strong centralized power, permitting no opposition or criticism, controlling all affairs of the nation (industrial, commercial, etc.,), emphasizing an aggressive nationalism..." [Hanks,P,Editor,(1971)"Encyclopedic World Dictionary",Hamlyn Publishing Group,Grt Britain,p.580].

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Turnbull refuses to rule out damming the Clarence

'Meanwhile, federal Water Resources Minister Malcolm Turnbull will not rule out constructing a new dam in northern NSW to ease water shortages in south-east Queensland.
The Federal Government has raised the possibility of piping water across the state border, prompting strong local opposition to the idea.
Federal Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd has assured the region that a Labor government would not build a dam on the Clarence River.
Speaking on the Gold Coast, Mr. Turnbull said the Government would consider all options.
"Our approach to water is that every option should be on the table," he said.
"You have got to look at everything, make an informed decision, have an informed debate, don't rule things in or out as a matter of prejudice, because the problem is if you do that you end up having no options left."' [ABC Online,Gold and Tweed Coasts Queensland,26 July 2007]

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Clarence fishers not happy with Howard's "centralist fervour"

In a measured manner, the Clarence River Professional Fishermen's Association makes its views known on the Howard-Turnbull position regarding constitutional powers and water.

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Friday, 27 July 2007

The Senate cat ate my homework!

On 30 May 2007 I e-mailed a submission to the Senate Rural Regional Affairs and Transport (RRAT) Inquiry into Additional Water Supplies for South East Queensland.
The submission was correctly addressed, identified itself as a submission and, contained my name and contact details. At the time it was confirmed as received.
Since then a number of submissions lodged after mine have been posted in the submissions received list on RRAT's webpage.
However, fifty-eight days later and with the Senate's formal report being prepared, the status of my submission is unclear.
After speaking with the RRAT secretariat, it is not certain that the Senate standing committee has even accepted my submission for consideration.
I have to wonder if one particular senator found part of the submission's contents politically inconvenient at this time.
I look forward to any explanation as to why my rather modest submission is apparently being quietly buried.

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Thursday, 26 July 2007

Academics give lie to Causley's claim that Howard cannot touch Clarence water.

For months now, Federal Nationals Member for Page and Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Ian Causley, has been running a line that the Commonwealth would be unable to seize Clarence catchment area water. He has been arguing a version of "It's the Constitution, stupid" [The Daily Examiner,Grafton,letters,24 July 2007,p.8].
In this he appears to be attempting to defuse the issue ahead of the forthcoming Federal election.
Now Sydney and Melbourne academics have cast doubt on this comfortable assumption that the Clarence Valley is safe from water raiders.
Dr. Tim Stephens, lecturer in constitutional and environmental law at Sydney University, suggests that if the Commonwealth wanted to take control of the Clarence River, it probably could using corporations power found in the Australian Constitution and possibly the issue of free trade between the states [The Daily Examiner,Grafton,"Causley at odds with expert",26 July 2007,p.3]
While Lee Godden, associate professor in water law at Melbourne University, would have "two-bob each way" on the outcome of the issue [ibid]. 
What the Clarence Valley is acutely aware of is the fact that John Howard is currently in the process of creating legislation to seize control of certain catchment waters in Victoria, citing constitutional powers to do so [www.theage.com.au,25 July 2007].
However, states and their governments are often easier to roll than 'grass roots' community. Community has a marked propensity to turn into the mouse that roared.
Perhaps Messrs. Howard, Turnbull and Causley should remember that small fact.

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Tuesday, 24 July 2007

Cubbie Station and the Clarence

With elements in the Murray-Darling Basin calling for diversion of Clarence River water, the subject of Cubbie Station is once again exercising both the minds and patience of many Clarence Valley residents.
Eventually even Messrs. Howard and Turnbull will have to address both the short and long-term negative consequences of allowing this giant sponge to exist within the Murray-Darling river system.
The Cubbie Group was formed by a merger between Blanche Cotton and Cubbie Station property groups and, principally comprises Cubbie Station, Anchorage, Aspen and Kandahah.
The Group has assets worth an estimated $440 million and owns approximately 96,000 hectares, with 20,000 hectares developed for cotton production.
It diverts water from three rivers, the Balonne, Balonne Minor and Culgoa, with weirs on Balonne Minor and Culgoa.
Additionally, it has a 5,028ML water allocation from the St. George Irrigation Project (Sunwater) as well as permission to divert water from the floodplain.
The Cubbie Group's total water storage capacity is 537,000ML, being 462,000ML at Dirranbandi and 75,000ML at St. George.
Storage dams stretch for an estimated 28 continuous kilometres.
Its water licenses allow it to extract up to 200,000ML in an average year and 500,000ML in a good year.
Annual payment for total water extraction runs at around $3,700 per annum.
The Cubbie Group represents 45% of the 1,200,000ML private storage capacity in the Lower Balonne.
The Group also represents an estimated 30% of total average diversion in the same area.
Condamine-Balonne water extraction impacts on 20% of Darling River flow and, the Cubbie Group accounts for 20% of this extraction.
[www.cubbie.com.au,24 July 2007, & www.brisinst.org.au ,13 September 2000]

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Monday, 23 July 2007

Where's Wally? (2)

The Clarence Valley continues to look under large rocks and peer into deep hollows in an effort to find those 5 gigalitres, which aspiring water raiders appear to believe rushes down the Clarence River each year in an orgy of wastefulness.
However, suspicions are growing.
Perhaps the water raiders are expecting every millimetre of annual rainfall to actually make its way into the river system?
In does seem that, in an effort to cobble together data, a percentage of river flow volume contains water which may in fact have been counted twice.
But what is most disturbing is that the SMEC desktop study indicates that, below the alternate proposed 100,000ML/Yr extraction storage sites, no thought appears to have been given to the cumulative effect of this new extraction and existing extraction elsewhere in the Clarence River system.
Or that by the time the Clarence River is about 20kms below Copmanhurst, it will be expected to conservatively lose an estimated 136,000ML to 167,000ML of natural freshwater inflow annually.
Any increase in Clarence Valley and Coffs Harbour population will potentially increase this annual freshwater loss, as will any decrease in average annual rainfall.
Shades of the Murray-Darling.

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Sunday, 22 July 2007

Rumour hath it............(4)

There is a rumour doing the rounds in the Clarence Valley that the Senate Rural Regional Affairs and Transport standing committee, inquiring into additional water supplies for south-east Queensland, is being unconscionably tardy.
A number of submissions, addressing proposed water diversion from the NSW Northern Rivers region, have not yet been published.
With one apparently unpublished submission being a professional critique of the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation desktop study, which leaves that study without legs to stand on.

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Saturday, 21 July 2007

He said, she said (3)

He said: "Today in one flying visit to Grafton...Kevin Rudd has decreed that there will never be any sharing of water between the
Clarence River and Queensland.
"So much for his commitment to Queensland. So much for having an open mind or a vision for a sustainable water future for Australia," Mr. Turnbull said."
[The Daily Examiner,"Rudd betrays Qld, says Turnbull",21 July 2001,p.9]

She said: What a mouthful of sour grapes from the Minister.
At least the Federal Leader of the Opposition and Shadow Minister for Infrastructure and Water visited the NSW Northern Rivers and listened to what local residents had to say.
One has to wonder when and why Mr. Turnbull's own 'vision' came upon him. This is what he said on 1 March 2007, in part about any Clarence River diversion:
"While these suggestions seem simple, transporting water has a variety of potential economic, environmental and social implications.
The costs involved in transferring water over large distances are substantial. Costs are incurred from the construction, operation and maintenance of the project. One estimate to build a pipeline from Tasmania to the mainland is around $5 billion. Despite the large capital cost of projects of this scale, the ongoing costs of moving water are what make it so expensive. Unless the distance is downhill with the assistance of gravity, significant amounts of electricity are needed to pump the water to overcome elevation, gravity and friction.
Projects quickly become prohibitive. For example, I recently released a report by the economics consultants Marsden Jacobs investigating Western Australia's proposed Kimberley to Perth pipeline, which estimated the cost to be up to $9.30/ kL – ten times the cost of urban water in many cities. The proposed pipe was not only 1800km long, but required a vertical lift of almost 500m.
Currently we pay very little for the water we consume. In Sydney, 1000 litres of water can be purchased and delivered to your bathtub for just over $1. Many other Australian capital cities charge much less. Rural water is even cheaper, 1000 litres of water (when it is available) can be delivered for a few cents.
Diverting water from its natural flow will have profound environmental impacts. Water diversions will primarily interfere with existing environmental flows. It is often flippantly stated that any drop of water which passes through the system unused is a wasted drop. It is important to note that freshwater flows through catchments or into the ocean are not wasted. It is an essential element of downstream ecosystems.
Any infrastructure decision would have a significant impact on the plants and animals in the system and is likely to compound existing environmental problems. Hundreds of square kilometres of vegetation would be either cleared or disturbed. The mating and migratory patterns of numerous native animals could be fundamentally altered. Consideration should also be given to the increased emission of greenhouse gas as a result of operating such a system.
Altered flow regimes could also have significant social impacts on communities near the river by affecting primary production, industry activities, and recreation existing in the area.
The wide ranging economic, environmental and social implications of diverting rivers and piping water make such projects prohibitively expensive, socially and environmentally disruptive.
It is interesting and important to note, while society has seen vast improvements in technology – the movement of water is virtually unchanged. There is little difference between how water is moved today, to how the Romans were moving water over 2000 years ago." [www.malcolmturnbull.com.au,1 March 2007]

This Turnbull statement was released just forty-three days before he began a public push to divert Clarence catchment water. As by March he had already ordered the Northern Rivers water diversion desktop study and had previously met with some of those seeking a Clarence River dam, one has to ask what he really believes (if anything) when it comes to environmental issues.
Being Federal Minister for Environment and Water Resources should be about more than pleasing a politically moribund Prime Minister holding a simplistic world view.
It should also be about more than pleasing bulk water users in the Liberal Party's mates club.

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Rudd, saviour of northern rivers

The Daily Examiner, Grafton, reports on Federal Labor's pledge not to support any proposal to dam the Clarence River or its tributaries and Malcolm Turnbull's response.

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Rudd rides to the rescue

There were a great many smiling faces in the Clarence Valley on Friday 20 July 2007, when Federal Opposition Leader, Kevin Rudd, and Shadow Minister for Infrastructure and Water, Anthony Albanese, visited Grafton.

Mr. Rudd affirmed that he could see "no logical basis" for a program to divert NSW Northern Rivers water to south-east Queensland [Ninemsn,National News,20 July 2007].

In this he is in agreement with Queensland Premier, Peter Beattie, who states that the Queensland Government has no plans to add a Clarence River diversion project to existing water resource programs in south-east Queensland [Email on behalf of Peter Beattie to J Melville,19 July 2007].

Mr. Rudd told Clarence Valley residents that a Labor Government would never support damming the Clarence and that he "stands against" such a plan.
Commenting on John Howard's pub test criteria for accepting validity of the SMEC Clarence diversion proposal, the Opposition Leader went on to say that Howard's diversion plan "doesn't pass the pub test in Grafton". [Channel 7,"Prime News",20 July 2007]

This strong support for the NSW Northern Rivers region is in marked contrast to the attitude of John Howard and Malcolm Turnbull, who have not visited the Clarence Valley regarding this issue and who characterise local opposition to their water diversion proposal as parochial and un-Australian.

As recently as Friday, Malcolm Turnbull continued to defend options to dam the Clarence and its tributaries [Ninemsn,National News,20 July 2007].

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Thursday, 19 July 2007

Clarence Dam?

Now that the Murray Darling Association has journeyed into some strange outer dimension to formulate its proposed Clarence River mega-dam of 500 gigalitres, it is perhaps time to post an artist's impression of a Clarence dam predicated on an annual extraction of 100,000 megalitres.
Both spell environmental vandalism at its best.

[Image displayed at http://mirandadevine.com,19 July 2007]

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Gauntlet thrown down at Turnbull's feet

The NSW Minister for Climate Change and Water, Phil Koperberg, has issued a challenge to the Federal Minister for Environment and Water Resources, Malcolm Turnbull.
'But Mr. Koperberg said Federal Environment and Water Minister Malcolm Turnbull should tell residents what he intended to do.
"The people of Northern NSW deserve to know whether there is still a secret plan sitting in the bottom draw  that Mr. Turnbull will pull out if the Coalition Government is re-elected later this year," he said.
He said analysis of the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation report by NSW water experts found that damming the Clarence would recreate mistakes made in the Murray-Darling..................................
"The whole concept has been very poorly researched and is no more than a thought bubble by Mr. Turnbull," Mr. Koperberg said.'
[The Daily Examiner,Grafton,19 July 2007,"Koperberg demands Clarence answers",p.5,extract] 

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Importance of Port of Yamba

MV Norfolk Guardian off Norfolk Island before refit.

The MV Norfolk Guardian  has just been floated on the Clarence River after a $2 million refit.
It makes the three-day trip to Norfolk Island from Yamba every five weeks.
This vessel ships all domestic and industrial supplies to the island.


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Wednesday, 18 July 2007

Alexandrina Council and Murray Darling Association seen off by NSW Minister

SA eyes Clarence water
Alexandrina Council reveals diversion plans
SOUTH Australia has entered the Clarence River water debate with a proposal to dam the river's upper-region and divert flood overflow to drought-stricken areas across the western NSW border.
South Australia's Alexandrina Council last month asked the Murray Darling Association(MDA) to lobby the Federal Government to consider the Clarence River diversion scheme.
MDA general manager Ray Najar said members would vote on whether to proceed with the request at its September conference.
He said the proposal had a lot of support in the region, but had not been lobbied at a Federal level.
"I do know this is going to be supported by several councils, but I don't think it's ever got legs because it's never been followed up properly," Mr Najar said.
Under the proposal, a 500-gigalitre dam would store peak overflows from major floods, which could then be used to generate hydro-power and provide drought relief to South Australia and eastern NSW.
He said the dam would not interfere with the low-flow – needed to retain the river's ecology – and only 15 per cent of the total overflow would be diverted to South Australia.
"There is no reason why the water should not be diverted to the other side of the ranges," Mr Najar said.
"People have got to start thinking about how we can share the resources we've got in a sensible manner.
"The emotion has got to come out of the argument, and a decision made on what is the greater good for the community.
"There needs to be a common sense attitude about sharing our resources across this continent –just because it's in someone's backyard it doesn't preclude others from using it.
"I think the NSW Government has got to put forward an argument that is more then just saying they don't want it."
But NSW Minister for Climate Change, Environment and Water, Phil Koperberg, has ruled out supporting any damming of the Clarence River on the grounds it would damage the environment and the local fishing and tourism industries.
"That's why we won't support any proposal to dam the mighty Clarence, because we're about protecting the environment and supporting the local community," Mr Koperberg said.
The South Australian plan follows other controversial proposals to pipe Clarence River water to south-east Queensland and western NSW.
[The Daily Examiner,Grafton,"SA eyes Clarence water",18 July 2007,p.3-pdf document copy]

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Tuesday, 17 July 2007

Howard's Way

When confronted with persistent negative polling, the Prime Minister is reportedly asking: Where did I go wrong?. [ABC TV,7pm News,17 July 2007]
If his approach to water policy is any indication, it may be that his government is considered an arrogant, out-of-touch bully by many voters.
Early this morning his pet minister, Malcolm Turnbull, had 129 'friends' listed on his MySpace blog site.
But he also has tens of thousands of people in the NSW Northern Rivers area who hold him in some measure of dislike.
Says it all really.

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Points to ponder (2)

"In NSW, floodplains equate to about 88% of a rivers area and more than 95% of this is owned by landholders who will be affected by changes in river flows." [Kingsford,Richard,Professor of Environmental Science,UNSW,November 2005]

The Clarence River floodplain is extensive. It covers at least 800km2 of the catchment area.

"Importance of freshwater flows
Freshwater inflows from the upper catchment
influence estuaries and coastal waters in many
ways. They are a major determinant of the
environmental conditions in estuaries due to their
impact on salinity gradients, estuarine circulation
patterns, water quality, flushing, productivity and
the distribution and abundance of many species of
plants and animals.
Considering the scope of its effects, freshwater
inflow is one of the more important factors
influencing estuary health today.
Freshwater flows also affect the availability of
food for organisms at the base of an estuary's
food web. They do this in at least two ways:
(1) by influencing the abundance and distribution
of primary organisms within an estuary's
waters, and
(2) by affecting the influx of organic carbon and
freshwater to the estuary and coastal waters
from outside sources.
As a result, estuaries are diverse, dynamic,
productive and highly valued ecosystems."
[NSW Government,"Advice to Water Management Committees: Freshwater flows to estuaries",October 2001]

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Monday, 16 July 2007

Hey, True Blue!

Calling all Australians working, living or travelling overseas.
It is now only two to five months to the 2007 Federal Election.
Please remember the Howard Government's evident desire to poach Clarence River fresh water when you absentee vote.

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How many times and in how many ways?

The NSW Minister for Climate Change, Environment and Water, Hon. Phil Koperberg, has again ruled out supporting any proposal for a dam on the Clarence.
How many times and in how many ways do Messrs. Howard and Turnbull have to hear, that the Clarence is not for diverting, before they believe?

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Rumour hath it............(3)

There is persistent speculation in the Clarence Valley that the real reason John Howard is so hot for Clarence catchment water is because he is eager to secure additional water to further his nuclear power dream.
It is an interesting coincidence that two aspiring water raiders, from within the Murray Darling Basin water management boundaries, are connected with this speculation.
Bourke Shire Council in New South Wales has stated publicly that it would consider housing a nuclear power plant [ABC News Online,transcript,11 July 2006].
South Australia's Alexandrina Council is in the vicinity of one area tipped by the media in June 2006 to be a potential nuclear power plant site [www.news.com.au,6 June 2006].
Out of the five companies created in 2006 which could take advantage of any government policy to create a nuclear power industry; two are registered in South Australia and a third was formed by a South Australian business man, along with two other gentlemen described as having impeccable Liberal Party connections. [Australian Securities and Investments Commission,16 July 2007,& ABC News Online,"7.30 Report",transcript,27 February 2007]
There are two operating uranium mines in South Australia, with one receiving water from within the current Murray Darling Basin Commission water management boundaries.

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Saturday, 14 July 2007

What the Clarence Valley is fighting for (3)

The Clarence River [Image displayed at nationalgeographic.com,5 July 2007]

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Points to ponder

"The Clarence estuary is host to the only river port for commercial coastal shipping on the north coast of NSW."
[NSW Dept. of Natural Resources]
"The fishing fleet based in the estuary is the largest in NSW - fish and prawn production is also the largest at over 800t/yr and 280t/yr respectively, or 18% and 35% respectively of the total NSW estuarine catch."

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Clarence River at Lilydale (Newbold Crossing)

[Dept. of Water and Energy,2007,"Clarence River: Annual Flow Summary For Period Of Record",p.1]

These graphs purportedly show Clarence River discharge levels recorded upriver at Newbold Crossing.
The graphs are predicated on data from 1922 onwards and rely on no data for 1,979 days in total. The years significant for marked data loss are; 1948 which only includes 29 days of data, 1949 which has no data recorded and 1983 which has data for only 198 days.
Therefore one has to wonder about the veracity of annual flows cited by those eager water raiders.
Note the lower levels associated with the current nationwide drought.

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Opps! Something Alexandrina councillors overlooked.

In their indecent haste to raid Clarence catchment water, Alexandrina councillors overlooked pertinent information right under their noses.
Might I suggest that it is never wise to place one's faith in a Federal Minister during an election year.

"Clarence River

What Does it Involve?
Various proposals have been made to divert eastward flowing rivers such as the Clarence River in northern New South Wales inland to supplement flows in the Murray Darling River System. The Clarence Hydro-Electric Scheme, promoted in 1984/85 by the Water Research Foundation of Australia, was considered to have the potential to divert 2,000,000 ML/year westward with a power generating capacity of 3000 MW (mega-watt).
There has been little development of this scheme or similar projects since the 1980s. A gravity-only diversion scheme of 1,200,000 ML/year is considered in this case.

What Could This Option Achieve?
The average annual discharge for the Clarence River system is 3,700,000 ML/year. Competition for land and water resources is currently placing increased stress on the health of the river. In some parts of the catchment, a ceiling on total water use at the existing level of development has been recommended. It is estimated that there is only limited scope to permit minor extractions of water from streams in the upper Clarence catchment for inland diversions.
Towns and hamlets along the tablelands surrounding the western and northern parts of the catchments have been identified as potential water users if inland diversions were supported. The New South Wales Government's stated position is not to approve such diversions.
It is very unlikely that the New South Wales Government would ever agree to the diversion of large quantities of water inland."
[www.waterproofingadelaide.sa.gov.au,March 2004,"Water Proofing Adelaide: Large Scale Water Supply Schemes",information sheet,pp.3-4]

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Thursday, 12 July 2007

Murray Darling Association Conference to discuss Clarence water diversion

"Cr Tuckwell

Murray Darling Association

In January 2007 a motion was passed re setting up a National Authority to control the river in the Murray Darling basin.

Today in Dubbo that motion has now run its course and Minister Turnbull has come up with money to run a Conference in Dubbo which is happening now.

It appears the Federal Government is now interested in talking to the Murray Darling Association.

Another motion that was passed at the last meeting was to consider the Clarence River diversion. This has now been added for discussion on the agenda for the Conference being held in Bourke in September."

[Alexandrina Council, ordinary monthly meeting,minutes,2 July 2007,p.93]

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And still they come....

"Cr Tuckwell
Clarence River Diversion (Region 6 Murray Darling Association)
Members will recall a circular re the Clarence River Diversion which was published in the community news. As a result of this, now is the time to make a move to begin the process of investigation into this project.
Need to put this into the political field via the Murray Darling Association. This project has been strong in the minds of people along the Darling etc. Also generating interest from MP's and now is the time to see whether we can get this back on the Federal Government agenda. Would like to propose a motion to the Region 6 Murray Darling Association from Council to begin this process.
Moved Cr Tuckwell, seconded Cr Potter that the Alexandrina Council, through Region 6 Murray Darling Association, request the MDA Federal Board to ask the Federal Government to re-examine the Clarence River Diversion proposal, relative to water flows through the Murray-Darling Rivers System.
[Alexandrina Council,Minutes Ordinary Monthly Meeting,18 June 2007,p.42]

Note: Alexandrina Council is a coastal council in South Australia. Its motto is "Preserving the Past - Securing the Future". It should also read, "Ignoring the legitimate past and future of others"

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Wednesday, 11 July 2007

What a waste!

On 11 July 2007 The Courier-Mail, Brisbane, ran an article which stated that the Queensland Water Commission had identified more than 3,000 households in south-east Queensland which consume more than 2,000 litres of water per day.
The story also identified four households consuming between 14,343 and 37,358 litres per day.
Fewer than 3 out of every 100 households reported as breaching SE Qld water restrictions are fined. [www.couriermail.com.au,The Courier-Mail,"Water crackdown a farce",11 July 2007]
Instead of encouraging Queenslanders to turn envious eyes on Clarence catchment water, Messrs Howard and Turnbull would be better off addressing the question of why water efficiency education does not appear to be having a significant effect on consumption in those areas crying water poor.

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Tuesday, 10 July 2007

Rumour hath it............(2)

A little further north another rumour is doing the rounds.
To wit, that the rather disorganised Federal Minister for Environment and Water Resources has a least made a start on replying to letters and e-mails protesting against those NSW Northern Rivers water diversion proposals.
Unsurprisingly he still appears to wholeheartedly support the SMEC proposals and, apparently shows no sign of having comprehended the issues which Northern Rivers correspondents raised.
Nor does he give any indication of understanding other informed criticisms offered concerning particular water diversion options.
One could almost suspect that he hasn't bothered to fully acquaint himself with those concerns which the North Coast is attempting to draw to his attention.
Perhaps his staff need to point this minister in the direction of a New South Wales map. Just to remind him that there is more to this State than his residential, rural and investment properties.
Spending time blogging on about his own dogs just won't make the grade with the Clarence Valley [www.malcolmturnbull.com.au].

The intransigent attitude of the Federal Coalition almost makes it official - that obscure and preposterous term "kakistocracy" may now be applied to the Howard Government.
"kakistocracy (noun) - government by the least qualified or most unprincipled citizens"
[www.hmco.com,"The American Heritage: Dictionary of the English Language",(2000),fourth edition,Houghton Mifflin Company,USA]

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Trend in annual rainfall 1950-2006

Sunday, 8 July 2007

Exotic schemes and the history of Clarence water diversion proposals

The following was listed in transcript section discussing proposals called "Exotic Schemes", adjacent to mention of towing icebergs to relieve water shortages.
Note that water diversion volume indicated is in the realm of phantasy and, bears a suspicious resemblance to the almost mythical water volume which is supposed to be 'wasted' by flowing out to sea.
The Clarence proposal mention herein is reported to have been enthusiastically received by John Howard when it was outlined.

"Exotic Schemes"
Schemes such as the Bradfield, Ord and Clarence River proposals require massive financing. Briefly, these schemes aim to redirect water from the source catchments to inland Australia and to transport the water over massive distances through the inland river systems or by pipeline or by combination thereof...............
The Clarence River scheme is the cheapest of the three at a potential cost of $2.5 billion. It would deliver up to 1,350 gigalitres into the upper reaches of the Darling River tributaries and hence be potentially available for use further downstream, including in South Australia. The 21 options study assumed that South Australia might negotiate up to 300 gigalitres of this water. The estimated cost of this water is about $1.15 per kilolitre................
Only the Clarence River scheme consistently includes the possibility of some water being made available to this State.
However, even if all these schemes were to go ahead and include water for South Australia, they may provide an additional 800 gigalitres. Why would we do this when we have more than that available already and no indications that this would be swamped by demand in the foreseeable future?
It is not just a matter of volume either. There are serious questions about the potential environmental impact on both the local resources from which the water would be sourced and the receiving waters. Witness the calls to restore environmental flows to the Snowy River. A Snowy Water Inquiry was recently established specifically to consider this question. Its recommendations are currently before the NSW and Victorian governments. This issue even seems to have had a significant bearing on the outcomes of the recent Victorian election."Shonfeldt,Claus,"Future Water Resources for South Australia",ASTE Focus No. 111, March/April 2000]

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Saturday, 7 July 2007

Where's Wally?

If you think Wally here was hard to find, spare a thought for Clarence Valley residents who are now busily looking for the estimated 3.7 to 5 million megalitres of water which the Coalition water raiders assert is discharged annually into the ocean from the Clarence River.

If the volume was consistently that high one might think that the Clarence River estuary would not be regarded as moderately to highly infilled, with depths across the entrance a maximum of 5 metres below low water [Dept. of Land and Water Conservation,2000].

Or that the cargo boats taking out Clarence Valley timber would not, as in recent years, get stuck on the sand buildup at the entrance approach and commercial trawlers on the river would still be able to fish areas available to them just a generation ago but not navigable now.

The high flow volume cited by these raiders would surely mean deep, free-flowing channels throughout the estuary.

However, the variable nature of Clarence River system flow does not lend itself to statistical annual averages and such averages are not in actual evidence on the river - but that fact seems to have escaped Messrs. Howard and Turnbull.

But then, neither gentleman has bothered to visit the Clarence Valley and ask local residents and local government about the practical experience of living with a classic Australian variable river.

[Graphic displayed at wickipedia.org,7 July 2007]

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Friday, 6 July 2007

What the Clarence Valley is fighting for (2)

Views of the Clarence - fresh to the salt.[Images displayed at yambansw.com.au,saltheart.blogspot.com,ng-photo.livejournal.com,
angel80.livejournal.com,6 July 2007]

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C'wealth Shadow Minister for Infrastructure and Water

"Labor opposes the Howard Government's proposal to dam the Tweed or Clarence Rivers or any of the smaller rivers connected to them.


The Howard Government's plan to dam the Tweed or Clarence Rivers has the "impassioned support" of the Prime Minister (Daily Telegraph, 13/4/07). 


John Howard said the plan to dam the rivers and pump the water was a "common sense" approach to the crisis.  "It passes the common sense pub test," Mr Howard told Southern Cross Radio in Brisbane on 16 April 2007. 


The Minister for Environment and Water, Malcolm Turnbull, "vigorously supported the plan" (The Australian, 13/4/07).


On Wednesday 13 June 2007, Malcolm Turnbull confirmed in Parliament that the Howard Government's recent Report on damming the Tweed and Clarence Rivers was a "first step" and "first base" in getting the dams built.


Labor is listening to the concerns of northern rivers communities that damming the Tweed or Clarence Rivers will significantly damage the environment and economy of northern NSW.


Labor strongly supports working with local communities, local water authorities and State Governments in developing options for future water supply and, based on strong concerns raised by the NSW Government and northern rivers communities, we oppose the Howard Government's proposal to dam the Tweed and Clarence Rivers."

[Statement received from Anthony Albanese, Commonwealth Shadow Minister for Infrastructure and Water,5 July 2007]


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Thursday, 5 July 2007

Hon. John Winston Howard, Prime Minister

This man is the Prime Minister of Australia.
His paternal grandparents lived for some time in the Clarence Valley. His father, Lyall Falconer Howard, was born in the Valley.
So it is somewhat surprising to find that John Howard appears to have little understanding of the Clarence River or the communities which depend on its continued health and productivity.
As Howard the politician tends to act on the basis of personal prejudice rather than party policy, one has to wonder if he feels that the Clarence Valley failed his family in the past.
Couldn't the Clarence Valley supply business opportunities to equal the later plantations in New Guinea? [www.smh.com.au,The Sydney Morning Herald,"The secret Howard plantations",10 June 2006]
Or was it that the Valley failed to be markedly pro-fascist all those years ago? [Workers Online:year end 2003,Moore,Andrew,"The New Guard"]
There has to be some explanation as to why John Howard has personally endorsed the attempts to raid Clarence catchment water.

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Tuesday, 3 July 2007

Strange sums and hallucinogenic water

The National Water Commission at www.water.gov.au and its somewhat optimistic world view.
According to Australian Water Resources 2005 data the following applies:
1. The Clarence River Surface Water Management Area is 22,670km2, with 17.42% of the area being specifically protected under existing legislation.
2. Sustainable water yield within this area is an estimated 69,291ML [2004/05].
3. Sustainable yield considers surface water/ground water interaction.
4. Regional water consumption for this area is an estimated 35,888ML per annum, being 55% agriculture, 26% household, 19% mining, manufacturing, forestry, fishing, sewerage, electricity and other.
The SMEC desktop study, endorsed by Messrs. Howard and Turnbull, recommends as preferred options taking 100,000ML per annum via a dam on either the Clarence River or the Mann River (a Clarence tributary) or, alternatively taking 50,000ML per annum via a weir on the Mann River.
Therefore the shortfall in sustainable yield is between 16,597ML and 66,597ML per annum.
Now that level of additional water extraction, as we enter the pronounced effects of global warming, would leave both Clarence Valley and Coffs Harbour local government areas with no capacity to withstand climate change, accommodate our combined projected population increases, sustain local commercial fishing and tourism industries or guarantee environmental flows in the Clarence River system.
Even if every person, business and industry left the Clarence Valley and Coffs Harbour tomorrow, the sustainable yield shortfall would still be 30,709ML per annum.
One has to ask - does Canberra drinking water now contain hallucinogens?

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Rumour hath it ............

A little further north a rumour is doing the rounds.
To wit, that John Howard and Malcolm Turnbull are experiencing some difficulty in bringing elements in the Senate RRAT standing committee to heel in order to achieve a firm recommendation to dam and divert NSW Northern Rivers water.
It may be that the committee is now considering referring these proposals on to another committee or agency which will consider the matter after the 2007 Federal Election.
At which time Howard hopes to re-invent himself as Mussolini and make the rivers run on time.
As to how I view this rumour? As the saying goes, a week is a long time in politics. Three to five months can see yet another backdoor attempt by the Howard Government to impose its will on the unwilling Page and Cowper electorates.
The Clarence Valley needs to stay both alert and alarmed.

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Monday, 2 July 2007

Interesting titbit

In the 1998/99 financial year, the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation [SMEC] made a political donation of $10,000 to the Federal Liberal Party.

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Have you noticed............(4)

There is a distinct similarity between the Bourke Shire Council-sponsored scheme to divert water from the Mann River (a tributary of the Clarence) and a 2000 scheme investigated by Macquarie Bank and Thiess Pty Ltd.
"The Border Rivers Scheme
Another more visionary scheme currently being evaluated by Thiess Pty Ltd and Macquarie Bank is the Border Rivers Regional Development scheme in Northern NSW. The scheme involves the pumping around 950,000 MLpa of water from a weir located on the Mann River near Grafton via a 70km pressure tunnel to the west across the Great Dividing Range. The scheme which would be financed by the private sector has the potential to support major new rural industry west of the Range as well as providing flood mitigation and hydropower to the coastal areas. The scheme also provides the opportunity for environmental releases to the Murray-Darling Basin, where, incidentally, irrigation currently exceeds sustainable levels by about the same volume, 950,000 Megalitres per year." [Albrecht,Martin C,Non-executive Chair,Thiess Pty Ltd,November 2000]
Perhaps this is why Messrs. Howard and Turnbull were so ready to give a hearing to this second 2007 Clarence catchment water diversion proposal.
Coincidentally, the Macquarie Banking Group ranks in the Australian top 40 political donors at:
Macquarie's agribusiness sector is a water trader in its own right.
The bank also led the consortium which purchased the international water company, Thames Water.

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Sunday, 1 July 2007

Wise words being ignored

It is obvious that Prime Minister Howard and his glove puppets, Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Heffernan, are not listening to wise words when it comes to the Federal Government push to divert Clarence catchment water.

"6 Coastal Catchments
It is obvious why much governmental and intergovernmental focus is on inland river systems. But the tendency to draw nation-wide conclusions about water planning, management, priorities and strategies from detailed analysis of major inland systems can lead to inappropriate priorities and ineffective strategies for coastal catchments. The primary reason is that coastal catchments meet multiple different needs and support a vast array of users, from primary to secondary industry, from old pastoral to new industries like aquaculture, from urban development to recreation and so on. The river systems are quite different ecologically from inland systems and meet very different economic and social needs. It follows that there are many stakeholders, including state agencies and authorities, councils, a variety of catchment, river, water, land and estuarine management committees, communities, land holders and water users.

In recognition of these differences, the NWI could require state and territory governments to give special focus to coastal river systems and to exercise care in using inland experience to guide coastal planning and management in water resource management, water allocation and trading."

[Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering [ATSE],National Water Commission's National Water Initiative First Biennial Assessment,submission,February 2007]

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