Monday, 25 July 2016

Clarence Valley pouring cold water on wanabee dam builders

"Water in the Clarence catchment area river systems does not belong to Australia as you assert and, only nominally belongs to New South Wales.
It more truly belongs to the land through which it flows and, is held in trust by local communities for future generations." [A Clarence Valley Protest, It'sWar, June 2007]

ABC North Coast Radio, 22 July 2016:

A council in the south of New South Wales is lobbying to have water piped inland from the Clarence River.

The Griffith City Council has submitted a 30-year-old proposal to divert water from the Clarence River into the Murray Darling Basin via a tunnel through the Great Dividing Range.

The submission has been made to an NSW Upper House inquiry into dams, flooding and water management.

Councillor Dino Zappacosta said it could be done without any adverse effects to the Clarence Valley.

"Our preliminary studies have shown that the amount of water which we'd be looking at diverting would be around about 25 per cent of the water that currently flows into the seaboard," he said.

"That would not affect any activities currently going on along the Clarence at the moment.

"A few engineers have looked at the scheme and by using only gravitational methods through tunnels, the cost would be reduced," Cr Zappacosta said.

"At the same time we would be able to use that flow of water for hydro-generation as well, so it has an extra benefit.

"If we're going to look at Australia developing, particularly west of the ranges where there is so much fertile area all over the place, and if we're going to be the food bowl of the world we must be looking at ways to have more water in our region."

Proposal 'unlikely' to get support: Clarence Valley Mayor

Director of the Centre for Ecosystem Science at the University of New South Wales, Professor Richard Kingsford, is not a fan of the idea.

"The water that comes down rivers and goes out to sea is not wasted water," he said.

"We're learning that our estuaries, our fisheries, are so dependent on not just the water that comes down but the nutrients and the sediment."

The Clarence Valley Mayor Richie Williamson said the idea was floated every five or six years.

He said it would cost billions of dollars and was unlikely to get much support at a state or federal level.

"I've previously raised this with the Deputy Prime Minister, Barnaby Joyce, when this was part of his ministerial responsibility," Cr Williamson said.

"He told me absolutely that any proposal was not certainly on the Federal Government's radar.

"My understanding is it's also not on the State Government's radar in any way shape or form."

Save his breath to cool his porridge


What is it with many of the local councils and councillors in the Murray-Darling Basin?

They seem to be firmly of the belief that the Clarence Valley catchment is an est. 22,700 sq. km supermarket whose shelves can be browsed at will.

Where they can pile their trollies high with items which will enhance their own regional economies and, when they get to the checkout pay for the natural resources they take not with dollars but with degradation, destruction and death.

Approximately once every twenty years these councils lobby state and federal governments to industrialise the Port of Yamba so they can export minerals, ore, grain, cattle etc., through the Clarence River estuary and, at least twice a decade they want to dam and divert water from the Clarence River catchment so that they can grow their own regions at the expense of Clarence Valley communities.

Each and every time these local government raiders appear on the horizon the people of the Clarence Valley point out the limitations and risks of these grand plans for an ancient floodplain and river system that began its life at least 23 million years ago and, which due in part to happy historical accident and good management remains a relatively health system to this day.

They politely point out the fact that like north-west NSW they too suffer from the same droughts and rely on this particular river system to see us through them. They tell them the limits of safe water sharing have been reached because the catchment already supplies drinking water to the growing Coffs Harbour region further south.

They remind them that river system flows in the catchment are highly variable and natural freshwater flows are vital to keep a highly productive main river (which is saline for almost half its length) healthy and biodiverse in order to sustain our own agricultural, commercial fishing and tourism industries into the future.

Locals also point to the environmental studies done down the years by various governments which are not in favour of altering the rate or volume of river flows, that the native title holders are very protective of these waters and, when these councils won’t listen they stop being polite and put their foot down.

If Cr. Zappacosta of Griffith (The Area News, 11 June 2016) doesn’t remember the last time that happened I’m sure Bourke Shire Council will, because that was the time that it proposed a Clarence River water diversion plan which relied on the estimated $1.5 billion dollar cost being “financed by the private sector against sales of water licences and long-term operation and management rights” and was actively seeking to identify sources of diversion funding [A Clarence Valley Protest, 23 August 2007].

That was the time the Clarence Valley declared “Not A Drop”, successfully lobbied a NSW Coalition government, gave evidence before a Senate inquiry and saw off a federal government in late 2007.

Cr. Zappacosta would be wise to save his breath to cool his porridge because he can talk to each and every politician in Canberra and Macquarie Street but it will get him nowhere if the people of the Clarence don’t agree with his current plan to divert 1,000 gigalitres of fresh water annually – and I strongly suspect that they won’t.

Judith M. Melville, Yamba

No comments: