Friday, 26 November 2010

Fringe parties still making hay with Clarence water diversion talk

August and November 2010 sees political opportunism continue.........

# The following is on the website of the fledgling political party the Citizens Electoral Council of Australia:

Newly elected National Party MP for Riverina, Michael McCormack, described the plan as "a guide to depopulate inland Australia". Although this was said in passing, it reflected our material, and was the most truthful thing any Federal MP has said about the implications of the plan. He also asked what effect this is having on our kids, as they hear their parents talk about the meaning of the plan……………………..

What we lead with in one meeting, we find is raised more in questions at the subsequent meeting, ie repealing the Water Act, or the Wentworth Group. Circles discuss it, and raise it at the next one. An Italian farmer talked about the Clarence River scheme, and had our leaflet from Griffith on him when he asked the question.

The LYM spoke to a Hay councillor who recognised the CEC, and was very responsive on water projects, the Clarence and Bradfield, saying we should’ve done this a long time ago. All of the MDB Fraud DVDs were distributed, to a very good response.

* Michael McCormack is on the parliamentary committee currently inquiring into the regional social/economic impacts of the proposed Murray Darling Basin Plan and probably looking at interbasin water transfer.

# The Agmates website indicates that another fringe political party Climate Sceptics Party of Australia is also out in the Basin stirring up support for interbasin water transfer:

Climate Sceptics candidates Steve Davies (Barker) and Leon and Nathan Ashby (Senate) will tour Murray river towns early next week explaining their policy on water.

The party believes there is plenty of water in Australia and it would not support a water buy back policy for the River Murray but rather support diverting water from Northern Australian rivers as the solution for extra water to SA. It would be a vastly improved Bradfield scheme something proposed over 70 years ago by the designer of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, John Bradfield. Lead Senate candidate Leon Ashby says "Rivers such as the Clarence, Tully, Herbert, Burdekin, and Flinders in northern Australia have vast amounts flow into the sea during floods.
These floods could be diverted to flow to many places inland including down as far as Murray Bridge via gravity fed pipelines and channels."

# The Murray Darling Basin Authority is noting this discussion:

The Authority heard:
•That the MDBA should consider the need for extra dams.
•That the Lake Mejum scheme should be reconsidered as an option for storing water for irrigation.
•Support for building the Clarence river scheme.
•That the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Scheme being built to generate power but also for irrigation and to look after the environment – it was straight forward, why are we moving away from this?
•There is a need for real works and measures to water the environment.
•Concern that vast amounts of water are lost to evaporation.

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Sunday, 21 November 2010

More press on that call to dam and divert the Clarence River

Shan Goodwin in The Land on 19 November 2010 reports on the Clarence Valley response to calls for diversion of freshwater from the Clarence River catchment to the Murray Darling Basin.

Unfortunately like many other journalists she neglects to closely read a map and falls for the old furphy that the headwaters of the Clarence River lie in Queensland’s McPherson Ranges – instead of the more accurate Rivertree area in New South Wales. Even its northern-most minor tributary Koreelah Creek apparently begins below Wilson’s Peak on the NSW side of this mountain straddling the NSW-QLD border.

Nevertheless in this instance Shan attempts to take a balanced view of this issue and that is much appreciated by many Clarence Valley residents.

Clarence River can’t ‘spare a drop’ Shan Goodwin

CALLS for the mighty Clarence River in north-eastern NSW to come to the rescue of the Murray-Darling Basin have met with a firm “not possible” from those making a living on its banks.

Western NSW and Victorian irrigators facing up to 37 per cent water cuts under the just-released basin plan are agitating for excess water from the Clarence to be diverted over the Dividing Range into the western rivers system, arguing it is “criminal that thousands of gigalitres are running out to sea while a food producing industry is being shut down”.

With its headwaters in the McPherson Ranges in Queensland, the Clarence flows for nearly 400 kilometres through beef and cropping country to empty into the sea off the popular holiday towns of Yamba and Iluka.

The National Water Commission has measured its annual flow at about 3.25 million megalitres.

Siphoning of the Clarence was first touted in the 1930s as part of Sydney Harbour Bridge engineer Dr John Bradfield’s scheme to divert monsoon-fed Queensland rivers inland.

Feasibility studies into constructing dams with a 22km tunnel under the Gibraltar Ranges which would feed into the Beardy River, then the McIntyre and ultimately the Darling and Murray, show the technology is available but the costs would be phenomenal.

Inland politicians and industry leaders have long been pushing for further development of the concept – and Clarence River communities have continually fought off the “water raiders”.

In 2006, a “raid” from the Gold Coast and Brisbane proposing water be diverted there, where multi-storey housing had gone up at a much faster rate than services could cater for, met with fierce objection.

While North Coast primary producers have a lot more sympathy for the plight of inland irrigators than they do for the Queenslanders in population overdrive, they say that despite the image most people have of the massive Clarence the reality is the river cannot spare a drop.

The fresh water flushes during floods are the lifeblood of the region’s fishing industry, the biggest supplier of seafood in NSW, sustaining 140 wild harvest commercial fishermen.

Professional Fishermen’s Association executive officer, John Harrison, Maclean, said the fresh water flows brought nutrients and the opportunity for fish growth and there was “no room for a single drop” to be taken from the system without a detrimental impact on the fishing industry and environment.

More here.

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Friday, 19 November 2010

Clarence Valley Council responds to Windsor, Xenophon and the rest of those would be water raiders

From the Minutes of Ordinary Monthly Meeting of Clarence Valley Council on 16 November 2010:


(Cr Williamson)


1. The Council again register it strong opposition to any plans to divert waters out of the Clarence catchment.

2. Council makes a submission to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Regional Australia inquiry into the proposed Murray-Darling Basin Plan (MDBP), noting Council’s opposition to any plans to divert waters out of the Clarence catchment.

Voting recorded as follows:

For: Councillors Williamson, Comben, Dinham, Howe, Hughes, McKenna, Simmons, Tiley and Toms.

Against: Nil

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Friday, 12 November 2010

Clarence Valley shows its resolve to fight water raiders

Mayoral Minute included in the Clarence Valley Council ordinary monthly meeting business paper for 16 November 2010:





16 November 2010






Clarence Valley Council has always opposed any plans to divert water out of the Clarence catchment (Reports are attached).

It is now timely that Council again register its strong opposition to any plans to do so.


1. That the Council again register it strong opposition to any plans to divert waters out of the Clarence catchment.

2. That Council makes a submission to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Regional Australia inquiry into the proposed Murray-Darling Basin Plan (MDBP), noting Council’s opposition to any plans to divert waters out of the Clarence catchment.


The Federal Government has begun an inquiry into the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.

For the information of the Council the terms of reference are:

The Standing Committee on Regional Australia will inquire into and report on the socio-economic impact of the proposed Murray-Darling Basin Authority's 'Guide to the Proposed Basin Plan' (the Proposed Basin Plan) on regional communities, with particular reference to:

• The direct and indirect impact of the Proposed Basin Plan on regional communities, including agricultural industries, local business activity and community wellbeing;

• Options for water-saving measures or water return on a region-by-region basis with consideration given to an analysis of actual usage versus licence entitlement over the preceding fifteen years

• The role of governments, the agricultural industry and the research sector in developing and delivering infrastructure and technologies aimed at supporting water efficiency within the Murray-Darling Basin.

In examining each of these issues, the Committee will also consider community views on:

• Measures to increase water efficiency and reduces consumption and their relative cost effectiveness;

• Opportunities for economic growth and diversification within regional communities; and

• Previous relevant reform and structural adjustment programs and the impact on communities and regions.

This will include consultation with Local Government, Regional Development Australia, community groups and individual stakeholders to better understand the local and community issues raised by the Proposed Basin Plan.

The committee will report back to Parliament by end of May 2011.

While it is noted the diversion of “other” river systems or inter basin transfer is not in the terms of reference, the plan is getting some space in the national media and (if reports are correct) has been raised in community consultation to date on the MDBP.

Our community has long held the view that the idea of diverting the Clarence River is something that we will not accept and as such, Council should make a submission outlining the socio-economic impact, environmental impacts and community views on the issue.

Again the words ring true - “Not a drop”.

The diversion of the Clarence River when assessed against Council’s adopted sustainability framework cannot be justified, as outlined below.


The Clarence is one of the nation’s great wild rivers, and one of the few rivers in Australia which has no major dam. The only across-river structure for water diversion is the relatively minor Nymboida Weir. The river is also the only place in the world where the endangered Eastern freshwater cod now exists. Much of the river is also surrounded by national parks and many of the tributaries by World Heritage declared rainforest.

The studies for the off-river storage urban water supply at Shannon Creek proved that any large dam on the Clarence River, if it diverted the highest or the lowest flows, could have dire environmental impacts on aquatic lifecycles. This is why the Shannon Creek dam (30,000 mega litres) was designed to only take a small amount of medium river flows from the Nymboida and was not located on the river. The science is beyond doubt, all those rivers which have large cross-river dams have had major environmental impacts on aquatic eco-systems, wetlands and fish habitats. This is the very reason that the Federal Government has released the Murray Darling Basin plan (on display now) and is trying to stop the river dying from too much regulation by dams and irrigation use.

Note: a relatively small urban water supply across-river dam on the Mary River in Queensland did not go ahead due to the environmental impact the dam would have and it only had a fraction of the environmental values of the Clarence.


The effects of major dams would inevitably decimate the Clarence River commercial and recreational fishing industries. It is well proven that variable flows and the flood flows are essential for a viable fishing and prawn industry. The commercial fishing industry is worth over $92 million in the Valley and generates over 430 jobs. The recreation fishing industry forms a large part of the $280 million tourism industry in the Valley which generates much of the economic base of Yamba, Iluka and Maclean.

The engineering reports carried out in the 1960’s and 70 have proved even then that any diversion scheme could not possibly be economically justified without a huge Government subsidy. Even then, the cheapest option was going to cost over $500 mega litre, which in today’s terms would be many thousands of dollars per mega litre. Note: irrigators now complain about paying less then $10 mega litre in the Murray Darling Basin for their irrigation water. The reports done did not analyse the economic or environmental costs to the Clarence River and on the community.

Any diversion of water to the West is not going to give any more irrigation water accept for those irrigators in the upper catchments eg Namoi, Gywdir, as system losses mainly by evaporation would not see any Clarence water reaching the Murray system. As well, any new water in the system would further accentuate the already major irrigation salinity problem in the Murrumbidgee and Murray irrigation areas.


The Healthy River Commission, in its report of the Clarence in early 2000’s, found that the one thing that absolutely unites the whole Valley is its river and everybody agrees that this river has great significance and should not be diverted to the West.

The Aboriginal community has a great mythological link to the river with every nation having a dream time story about the Clarence River’s creation.


The net result of any crazy scheme to divert the Clarence would be that instead of having one river system which is on its knees environmentally, socially and economically, you would instead have two systems in a similar state.

Financially, without huge Government subsidisation, any diversion scheme is totally uneconomic and cannot be paid for by water users in the west.

Cr Richie Williamson

MAYOR Prepared by:

Mayor Richie Williamson


Mayoral Minute


1. Report 12.005/06 (18 October 2006) Water Diversion – Clarence River

2. Report 05.006/07 (17 April 2007) Clarence River Diversion

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