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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