Thursday, 28 May 2009

"Over my dead body" - a reminder of the water wars

Published in The Daily Examiner letters column on 27 May 2009:

It is on again.

Floods in the Clarence and droughts in the Murray bring out the ratbags.

On my walking and paddling trip down the Darling in 2007 I encountered a host of people, nearly everyone in fact, who wanted the Clarence River diverted inland.

In 2008 we had a Fellow of Engineers Australia advocating the same. Now in 2009 we have the Citizens Electoral Council issuing a press release about the desirability of the scheme and radio programs picking up on it.

We diverted the Snowy River inland destroying much of it, created severe salinity issues, took the sustainable dairying industries from the Northern Rivers to irrigated land in the Murray basin, created huge wealth for some and drove many Victorians to suicide when the grand ideas fell over.

After 5,000 kilometres of dragging and paddling a kayak, with decades of engineering experience in the water industry, I have been humbled. I came to realise that a river is much more than we were taught at university. The link between ground water and surface water is inextricable. The effect of taking any water out of a river can be profound.

But people don't seem to get it. They think that we can carry on with even more arrogance. Look at what has been destroyed already by our attitude and still we do not learn.

There is one thing the people of the Darling understood. "You can divert the Clarence over my dead body," l told them.

They didn't like it but they understood.

There are plenty of us who will fight for the river but be warned, the issue will never die. We just have to be ready - always.

Grafton resident 1952-1969

Author of Cry Me a River

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