Monday, 25 October 2010

Not A Drop [Second Edition 2010]

The Daily Examiner 25 October 2010

Click on image to enlarge

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Sunday, 24 October 2010

Exactly how many coastal rivers systems would Senator Xenophon like to lay waste?

South Australians Senator Nick Xenophon and Family First Legislative Council Member Robert Brokenshire are calling for the Gillard Government and Federal Parliament to look at damming and diverting the Clarence River across the Great Divide and into the Murray Darling river systems.

Xenophon appears to believe that the total volume of additional annual environmental flow (which the Murray Darling Basin Authority has identified as being required to stop the Basin rivers and wetlands irreversibly failing) can be found through interbasin water transfer.

Brokenshire envisions water diversion on a similar scale to the Snowy Mountains Scheme which ruined the iconic Snowy River.

Both men clearly have the Clarence River in their sights.

In 2004 a South Australian state government water diversion investigation decided on the basis very limited data that the average annual discharge for the Clarence River system is 3,700,000 ML/year and the 2007 SMEC desktop study gave a very optimistic top annual freshwater figure of 100,000 ML/year allegedly available for diversion [,March 2004,"Water Proofing Adelaide: Large Scale Water Supply Schemes",information sheet,pp.3-4 and Australian Parliament,Senate 2007,RRAT Committee, Inquiry into Options for additional water supplies for South East Queensland,Report].

While according to The Clarence Environment Centre; the Lilydale gauge readings (which provide the most accurate flow figures available) indicate that water discharge into the sea is less than two million megalitres per year on average [Submission No. 214,May 2007].

Senator Xenophon mentions a water volume of 4,000 GL/year as the diversion level required to ‘save’ the Murray Darling Basin:

Going in to bat for farmers in the basin, he said diverting 4000 gigalitres annually into the river system would alleviate the need for irrigation cuts and secure environmental flows.

Now 4,000 gigalitres is 4,000,000 megalitres – so at first glance Xenophon is either supporting future zero flow in the Clarence River and its inevitable death or he has more than one coastal catchment in mind.

So how many rivers would Senator Xenophon like to lay waste in order to satisfy the greed of Murray Darling Basin irrigators?


Thursday, 21 October 2010

The greedy jackals gather.............

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Windsor confirms that parliamentary inquiry will look at raiding Clarence water

In The Daily Examiner earlier today:

FEDERAL independent Member for New England Tony Windsor says diverting water from the Clarence River is an option to revive the Murray Darling basin.
Mr Windsor, whose electorate shares a border with Page, said diversion of east coast rivers, including the Clarence, would be looked at by a parliamentary inquiry, of which he was a member, into the impact of Murray Darling Basin Plan.
“Diverting water into the Murray Darling system to avert the effects of climate change is a possibility,” he said.
“But where it comes from is an issue I don't want to get into debate about right now. There are a lot of options out there to be looked at yet.”
Mr Windsor, who previously flagged the idea of diverting the Clarence in 2007, said sending water west was possible.
“It's technically possible to bring eastern flowing water to the west as we have done with the snowy mountains scheme,” he said.


A Message to the Two Tonys - Not A Drop!

The Federal Labor Member for Page Janelle Saffin taking the Clarence Valley's message to Water Minister Tony Burke and New Englland Independent Tony Windsor on 18 October 2010, according to the Commonwealth Hansard:

Page Electorate: Clarence River
Ms SAFFIN (Page) (10.57 am)—I have a message on behalf of my community in Page that I want to give to the parliament and everybody who is going to be involved in the Murray-Darling Basin plan and debate. The message from my community, which is home to the Clarence River—and a lot of people seem to be talking about wanting to get their hands on it and are looking at it for diversion—is this: not a drop. Right across my electorate thousands of cars have that on their bumper stickers: not a drop. In effect it is saying hands off the Clarence River.
The idea that the Clarence River can be diverted is one of those issues that have been around for quite some time.
Everybody has raised this issue at different times. In particular, there was some engineering plan that it could be done. My message to the two Tonys is: not one drop will be taken out of the Clarence River. I have also been told, and I do not want to verbal the honourable member for Kennedy, that on the member’s website he talks about those not in favour of looking at some sort of diversion as being political pygmies. While I am not going to comment about my size and whether that is correct, I would say to the honourable member that the people in the Clarence Valley and in Page are certainly not political pygmies. The catchment area of the Clarence River falls within 100 kilometres of the New South Wales coastal strip. Our industries are fishing—we have a huge commercial fishing industry—and agriculture, and the economy is heavily underpinned by that commercial fishing. There is also forestry and tourism. It is all worth a lot to us. This debate is one of those debates that come up every now and then. Engineering wise, we can do anything—we can do marvels—but in terms of the environment and also the viability of the Clarence it would be a disaster. They can look all they like but—
The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Hon. Peter Slipper)—Order! In accordance with standing order 193, the time for members’ constituency statements has expired.

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Saturday, 16 October 2010

Local MP tells Federal Water Minister and those MDB water raiders to "Rack off"

In The Daily Examiner on 16 October 2010 Water diversion an option:

FEDERAL Water Minister Tony Burke has not ruled out diverting Clarence River water as a solution to irrigation problems in the Murray Darling basin.
Facing severe backlash from irate farmers about the proposed reduction in irrigation allocations at public consultation meetings held by the Murray Darling Basin Authority this week, Mr Burke said he would not discount any options as solutions to help revive Australia’s ‘food bowl’.
“The consultation is real and I’m not going to play the game of ruling things in or out,” he said.
“Lots of options will be put on the table in the next few months and I don’t want people to hesitate from putting ideas on the table.”
Mr Burke hinted the enormity of the engineering involved in a diversion may save the Clarence River.
“Certainly in the past, projects like this have not been considered as practical as other options,” he said.
Outraged at the suggestion of any potential for diversion by Minister Burke, Federal Member for Page Janelle Saffin said she would fight to see that the Clarence remained untouched.
“I will stand by my community. Not one drop goes from the Clarence,” she said.
Ms Saffin said she would be raising the issue of any potential diversion in parliament next week.
“They can all rack off. I will make that clear next week,” she said.

A response over at North Coast Voices and if you feel the need to express an opinion The Daily Examiner comments section is open on the subject here.

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Murray Darling Basin Plan: Water raiders now chair both parliamentray inquiry and two consultation meetings

One has to wonder if the Gillard Government has lost control of the Murray Darling Basin Plan guidelines debate or whether the Murray-Darling Basin Authority has ceded control of its community consultation process and, what this might mean for NSW North Coast Rivers which are often seen by primary industry as a preferred alternative to curtailment of water rights/cuts in annual allocations.

One well-known would be water raider, Federal Independent MP for New England Tony Windsor is to chair the parliamentary inquiry into social and economic impacts of any proposed basin plan.

This is Mr. Windsor in a 2007 media release:

Mr. Windsor said he was also keen to see the possible diversion of the Clarence River examined under the new policy.
"The ideal site to divert the Clarence to is the New England Electorate...."

The Murray Darling Association is to chair two community forums in Broken Hill and Menindee on 19 and 20 October 2010.

In 2009 this association at its national conference and annual general meeting endorsed these motions:

13.2 Clarence River Region 2
For many years, Region 2 has been raising the issue of a feasibility study to dam part of theClarence River and divert some of the water inland to the Murray-Darling Basin to help alleviatewater shortages. The Federal Government has made it quite clear that it will not support any suchproject but the NSW Government has not been as clear on the issue. Some years ago, theAssociation supported a feasibility study into the idea.
RECOMMENDATION: That the NSW Government be asked to respond directly tocommunity requests over the years that part of the Clarence River be dammed to minimise flood damage and to divert some of the water inland to the Murray-Darling Basin.

13.3 Clarence River diversion Region 6
This proposed diversion of the Clarence River was first discussed in the 1930s. The FraserGovernment allocated $4 million to fund a feasibility study into the scheme. The HawkeGovernment discontinued this. The proposal, if feasible, would involve the construction of aheadwater dam on the Clarence River, with a 22km tunnel under the Gibralta Ranges in NorthernNSW. This tunnel would emerge on the Murray-Darling Basin side of the ranges and feed intothe Beardy River, then the McIntyre River and, ultimately into the Basin. The Gibralta Ranges aresituated in one of the highest rainfall areas in Australia. Benefits of the scheme include:• The dams would have storage capacity approaching that of the Snowy MountainsScheme.• The capacity of the headwater storage would provide flood control to the Clarence Valley.• The diversion would only require 24% of the total maximum storage volumes of water toprovide similar volumes of water to the Basin as the Snowy Mountains Scheme.• The generation of hydro-electricity is another major benefit.This motion is not a request to build the scheme, but to revisit it in the context of recent climaticevents and over-allocations in the Murray Darling Basin.
RECOMMENDATION: That the MDA requests the Federal Government, as a matter of urgency, to commission a report on the Clarence River Diversion Proposal relative to water flows through the Murray-Darling system and to make that report widely available.

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Thursday, 14 October 2010

Tony Windsor demonstrates a dangerous parochialism in water debate

Federal Independent MP for New England Tony Windsor has apparently threatened to push for alternatives to mass water buybacks, including redirecting water into the struggling Murray according to The Australian today.

Mr Windsor said that if the Murray-Darling Basin Authority was going to use climate change as part of its justification to take 3000-4000 gigalitres of water from irrigators, it could look at diverting water into the basin from areas of higher rainfall elsewhere...........
Mr Windsor said he would conduct an objective valley-by-valley analysis of where the authority's recommended cuts to water allocation could be tolerated. He said that where the risk of a significant socio-economic fallout was high, "there may be other strategies to fixing this not identified by the authority". He said "the political process" would examine these and other issues in the coming months.
Mr Windsor said the MDBA should not allow water to be taken away from irrigators on account of climate change, because they were not responsible for the problem.

Mr. Windsor does not elaborate on where any potential water diversion would originate except to vaguely point in the direction of far north Queensland.

However, as the Clarence River began to be mentioned within days of the release of the Murray Darling Basin Authority's draft basin plan, on has to suspect that the fate of this NSW coastal river is once more being discussed by politicians and interested parties who are still unwilling or unable to understand that wrecking one catchment area to apply what is little more than a band-aid to the Murray-Darling catchment is not an environmentally or economically sustainable response.

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