Protecting the Clarence River and its tributaries.
Thursday, 28 February 2013
Ibbotson's proposal to dam the Clarence River does not impress
Hot on the heels of an unforgivably uninformed suggestion from NSW Governor Marie Bashir that Clarence River catchment freshwater be diverted into the Darling River system, the Northern Rivers now has this latest attempt to revive the dam debate.
Mr. Ibbotson has obviously decided thatmedia reports of Australian Opposition Leader Tony Abbott’s ‘100 Dams’ draft document (which includes the Clarence and Mann rivers) gives him the opportunity to push his own dam plan once more.
This time the self-named Ibbo’s Dam still includes a hydro-electric scheme as part of the dam infrastructure, but is without the option to divert water into the Murray-Darling river systems.
However, Ibbotson happily suggests that placing a throttle on the flow regime of three major rivers (Clarence, Mann and Nymboida) by placing a dam at the top of the Clarence River Gorge (thereby also effectively destroying this gorge), permanently flooding the lower reaches of the Mann River, potentially compromising the last known wild population of Eastern (Freshwater) Cod, changing the water temperature in a section of the riverbelow the proposed dam/hydro scheme, reducing annual inflows into the lower river and reducing the frequency of ‘freshes’reaching the estuary (relied on by a local commercial fishing industryworth an estimated $92 million annually) are great ideas.
In this advertisement he fails to consider the impact his hydroelectric scheme would have on Essential Energy's existing hydroelectric plant on the Nymboida River or on existing tourism and farming businesses in the areas his scheme intends to flood.
Additionally, he entirely fails to explain how such a dam would help mitigate Clarence Valley flooding beyond wishfully asserting that it will.
This is a mock-up of a Clarence River dam posted on A Clarence Valley Protest in 2007:
And here are letters to the editor published in The Daily Examiner on 25 and 27 February 2013:
Ads are 'light relief'
On 18 September 2012 I had a letter to the editor published in The Daily Examiner on the subject of a "specific call to dam and divert water from the Clarence River catchment area" and "general calls to harvest water from east coast rivers for use in the Murray Darling Basin" in submissions before the NSW Legislative Council Standing Committee on State Development's Inquiry Into The Adequacy Of Water Storages in NSW.
On February 22, 2013 I was amused to find this letter selectively quoted in an expensive four-page advertisement created by that ardent climate change denier and supporter of damming and diverting freshwater from the Clarence River catchment into the Murray-Darling Basin, John Ibbotson (Senate Standing Committee of Regional Australia, Water Proofing the Murray-Darling Basin, Submission No. 158, dated received 7 December 2010).
I chortled when I discovered Mr Ibbotson obviously believed that I read transcripts with my ears and was impressed by the contortions involved in trying to make it appear that my letter ignored the subject of inter-basin water transfer.
I thank Mr Ibbotson for pointing out to Clarence Valley residents that the O'Farrell Government has no policy to protect the Clarence River from being dammed, even if at the inquiry's 20 August 2012 hearing it was demonstrated that David Harriss of the NSW Office of Water was not in favour of building expensive new dams:
"The Hon. Dr Peter Phelps: Is there any need for new dam building or simply perhaps raising storage capacities of the existing catchments?
Mr Harriss: I think the issues we have tried to raise in our submission are the billions of dollars invested in major infrastructure now, with both public infrastructure and on-farm infrastructure. I think (the) priority (for) New South Wales is to use that infrastructure as effectively and efficiently as possible in the first instance rather than investing further in up to millions of dollars in capital expenditure."
In the middle of all that wind and rain, Mr Ibbotson offered some welcome light relief and I'll gratefully use his advertisement to wrap my kitchen scraps later today.
JUDITH M. MELVILLE
No need for
I am writing in response to John Ibbotson's 4 page "story" in
the Examiner (22/02/13). I replied directly to his email (provided in the
story), expressing my concern that his story was lacking figures of the dam
capacity and flood flows to demonstrate how much a major flood could be
minimised. I also expressed my environmental concerns.
John replied with, "I find that facts and figures in an article
tend to result in people's eyes glazing over. This story was meant to be more
of an emotive story..."
When reading his story, I found my own eyes "glazing over", as
the "emotive" often tended to overshadow the substance. This issue
has often been an emotional one, with people on both sides having strong
opinions without many facts. The last thing it needs is another "emotional
stirring" to cause people to feel they must be either for or against a
dam. The issue needs an objective presentation of clear factual data addressing
My concerns include the effects of the cold water releases on the
ecosystem of the river below the dam, and all the way to the ocean.
John addressed environmental concerns in his story with "But it
would ruin the river! I doubt it". Then he was sidetracked discussing
Alaska and barbed wire.
With the help of Landcare, I had a flora and fauna survey conducted on
our property (just below the Gorge), which demonstrated a diverse range of
species including endangered and threatened species. John included a photo of
one of our young cows with her vealer heifer calf in his story. He
sarcastically referred to them as "rare native cowroos", attempting
(I think?) to devalue the importance of the native wildlife, or to prove that
the presence of cattle dramatically reduces the environmental value of the
Another concern is how a hydro-electric dam and a flood mitigation dam
can operate at this site without being in conflict with each other. As locals
know, we also have "dry periods'' where rain events contribute little to
the river system. Electricity generation would require contracts to guarantee
supply to the grid, and therefore need a minimum level in the dam to ensure
this (and allow for dry weather). Calculations need to be made to show a flood
event would not simply top the dam and flood anyway, like Wivenhoe dam did in
2011 in Brisbane. A dam could also turn floods into longer drawn out events,
possibly impacting on lower areas (including Yamba) and beaches for longer. My
great grandfather, Sir Earle Page, had detailed plans drawn up for a "Clarence
river hydro-electric scheme" in the 1940s, but it calculated that many
dams were needed to manage the flows and to guarantee supply.
I am a Clarence Valley resident.
This blog was created to protest numerous proposals to divert water from the Clarence River and/or its tributaries.
None of these proposals take into consideration the significant negative environmental, economic, social and cultural impacts water diversion would have on communities in the Clarence catchment area.
All are attempts by vested interests to sidestep responsibility and not squarely face the evident trend for a gradual drying of the southern half of the Australian continent.
Please feel free to offer comments on my posts.
Comment is moderated for offensive language.
Individuals mentioned in these posts may exercise any perceived right of reply by utilising the Comments link.
On creating a blog for the first time:
"On the Internet nobody can see the crayons in my nose!" [Ginger Meggs syndicated comic strip,2007].
DISCLAIMER: I am not now, nor have I ever been, a member of any political party.