Saturday, 16 October 2010

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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