Showing posts with label Clarence Valley. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Clarence Valley. Show all posts

Thursday, 17 October 2019

The real reasons behind the push to dam and divert water from the Clarence River catchment


Whenever local government areas within the Murray-Darling Basin decide to renew their almost perpetual lobbying of federal and state governments for consent to dam and divert one or more rivers within the Clarence River catchment they usually have a hidden agenda accompanying their public call for fresh water for inland towns during times of water scarcity.
It has never been about needing water for towns which might run out of water by late 2020. Any new dam couldn’t even be ‘shovel ready’ in less than two to three years, while rushing construction would take a similar time period to complete and filling a dam would take more than three years on top of that – if it could be achieved at all in an Australian climate which has been drying for the last sixty years.
What these councils are really seeking is the means to grow their own local businesses and expand their own regional economies at the expense of Clarence Valley and Coffs Harbour City current and future businesses and regional economies.
One of the mayors openly states that “water is the new currency” - echoing that other sentiment doing the rounds, ‘water is the new gold’.
Take these latest water raiding schemes……….
1. MARYLAND RIVER DAM AND DIVERSION SCHEME FOR THE BENEFIT OF ONE NSW AND THREE QLD LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREAS
According to Daily News in Warwick Qld, Southern Downs Council has a wish list for growth; Councillor Marika McNichol said the council had a wish list of significant infrastructure projects that would shape, steer and secure the region’s future.“This is an ambitious list of projects, but also a list of essential infrastructure projects that will benefit our region and build a sustainable future for the Southern Downs,” Cr McNichol said.“Council has a strong long-term vision for the region which involves major infrastructure projects.”
On its own website this council stated; “Southern Downs Regional Mayor, Tracy Dobie said a number of exciting projects in the Southern Downs were due to commence or be completed, creating employment opportunities, encouraging population growth and stimulating strong economic activity,”
One of those proposed major infrastructure projects to allow economic expansion in this particular local government areas is a “Pipeline diversion of water from the Clarence River in NSW to Tenterfield, Southern Downs, Western Downs and Toowoomba”. This proposal is being submitted to Infrastruture Australia seeking funding to progress the interbasin-interstate water transfer scheme.

Access to water is seen as a key economic driver by Western Downs Regional Council. This includes being a driver of industry and business development as well as optimising tourism growth in the local government area.

Toowoomba Regional Council Mayor Paul Antonio told a journalist that; water is the limiting factor in population growth and food production in this area”. His letter of support for the application to Infrastructure Australia for a dam in the Clarence River catchment reads in part; As chair of Darling Downs South West Queensland Council of Mayors … I write to give the strongest of support to your council’s submission to the Australian Infrastructure Audit regarding long-term water security on the Darling Downs and NSW Border Ranges.”

Tenterfield Shire Council’s mayor told The Daily Examiner in Grafton NSW; “I have no problem supporting populations to support industry, but you cannot do it without infrastructure to secure water. These towns need to be supported, and especially where they are looking to expand. (Towns like) Warwick and Toowoomba should have had adequate water supply years ago and now we are playing catch up.” [my yellow highlighting]

Tenterfield Shire Council as part of the Northern New England High Country Regional Economic Development Strategy 2018-2022 supports the position that; “There is potential to dam both the Mole River in the western part of the Region and possibly one or more of the headwater tributaries of the Clarence River for irrigation water and the generation of hydroelectricity.”

Tenterfield’s Mole River proposal was tentatively costed sometime in the 1990s on the basis that private capital would build this dam and lease it back to either local or state government. The current proposal for a Mole River dam (20-40 per cent smaller than the original proposed water storage) is an initial 50/50 split between state and federal government.

2. ABERFOYLE RIVER DAM AND DIVERSION SCHEME TO BENEFIT GWYDIR SHIRE COUNCIL, GWYDIR RIVER AND COPETON DAM, NSW

The NSW Berejiklian Coalition Government’s State Infrastructure Strategy 2018-2038 points to a need to Identify investment options in the priority catchments of Gwydir and Macquarie”.

Gwydir Shire Council in its Gwydir Shire Economic Development Strategy 2017-2020 states an aim to; Manage water resources for a growing economy and environmental sustainability” as well as to improve/expand the Shire’s product base which includes the tourism potential of the Gwydir River and Copeton Dam.

The river and dam are seen as part of providing a Strong basis for growing the tourism sector and building visitation to the Shire’s towns and villages” - as well as being seen as “lifestyle advantages of the Shire.”

The development strategy also sees “access to plentiful water” as a prerequisite to growing local businesses and establishing new ones.

Seeing water as a mere commodity these Murray-Darling Basin councils and the federal government are pressuring the NSW Berejiklian Coalition Government to such a degree that it is now considering altering planning and water legislation to allow NSW Water to have planning control over dam building and also allowing environmental safeguards to be overridden – in particular removing environmental/biodiversity assessments of proposed dam sites and potentially commencing construction before a cost-benefit analysis has been completed.

Sunday, 6 October 2019

Grafton experienced more hot days in past 30 years



Grafton's average monthly rainfall 1959 to 2018:



Grafton's average water balance after the evaporation rate is accounted for:

Graphs from http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/climate-guides/

It should be noted that longterm averages are a crude measurement tool and do not always reflect conditions experienced in specific years.


Tuesday, 1 October 2019

A reminder of some of the times Clarence Valley communities said 'No' to Murray-Darling Basin water raiders in the last 80 years


Queensland Times (Ipswich Qld), 13 May 1947:


Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners' Advocate, 13 March 1950:


Warwick Daily News (Qld), 11  January 1952:


Images from Trove, retrieved 28 September 2019


26 September 1969:

CANBERRA, Thurs. — A $400 million scheme to divert the surplus waters of the Clarence River into the Darling was submitted to the Commonwealth to-day.

Cost of the scheme, to be met primarily by the Commonwealth, would be spread over 30 years.

A deputation of eight members of the Barwon-Darling Water Association submitted the plan to the Minister for National Development, Mr. David Fairbairn.

Almost on par with the great Snowy Mountain hydro-electric scheme, it envisages:

A multi-million increase in wool production.

A vast outback development in decentralisation.

Attraction of many thousands of farmers to the west.

Substantial increase in storage capacity of the Darling.

Additional houses, schools and industry “out west.”

Overall revitalisation of farming and grazing development.

27 September 1969:

Local Needs Before Diversion Of Water

The diversion of surplus waters of the Clarence River to the west should only be considered after a thorough investigation of the potential for development and the water requirements of our own valley have been ascertained.”

The Mayor of Grafton and chairman of the Clarence River (Flood Mitigation) County Council, Ald. N. G. Weiley, made this comment last night.

Clarence Environment Centre, June 2007:

Let the rivers run to the sea

The notion of diverting water from the Clarence River catchment to other parts of Australia surfaces every few years. It usually gets dismissed as the hare-brained scheme of some mad old engineer or outback dinosaur mayor.

This time it feels different. A combination of factors – badly-planned urban growth in southeast Queensland, the upcoming Federal election and the drought– have led to the Clarence coming under the cold and acquisitive eye of the Federal government and its engineers.

Minister for Environment and Water Resources Malcolm Turnbull commissioned the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation to do a ‘short term desk-top review on the identification and definition of issues associated with improving urban water supply security in South East Queensland and North East New South Wales by accessing water from the Northern Rivers of NSW.’ 

Bumper sticker from the successfu 2007 'Not A Drop' campaign against damming and diverting Clarence River catchment water:



The Northern Star, 14 February 2013:

"HOW dare they even mention the words dam or diversion."
That was the reaction of Page MP Janelle Saffin on Thursday to the news the Coalition was considering building dams and a weir on the Clarence and Mann rivers.
Water from the dams and the weir would be piped to the Logan River in Queensland.
A leaked draft Coalition policy discussion paper obtained by News Limited contained proposals to build up to 100 dams across Australia.
The idea to divert water from the Clarence has been kicked around for decades but has always met with fierce opposition.
Ms Saffin said she was "disturbed but not surprised" by the report.
"The federal Liberal and National parties still have their eyes on the Clarence," Ms Saffin told APN Newsdesk.
"They talk a lot about diverting rivers, about damming without any consultation whatsoever with local communities, local councils.
"It's fanciful to think you can talk about damming or diverting the Clarence. You can't."
Ms Saffin predicted the issue of damming or diverting water from the Clarence Valley would become an election issue, just as it was in 2007 when Malcolm Turnbull was water minister.
She referred to The Daily Examiner's successful Not A Drop campaign and said the community sentiment remained six years on.
"It still exists and in fact it would be stronger. With the issues swirling around with CSG and water there's even more of a strong feeling in the community about 'don't touch our water'," she said.
"To even hear a hint the Federal Coalition ... would go near the Clarence is enough to scare people."
Ms Saffin did concede each dam proposal should be treated on its merits, but said it was not an option for the Clarence.
As if sensing the political damage the leaking of the report might do to his chances of wresting Page from Ms Saffin, Nationals candidate Kevin Hogan issued a statement "categorically ruling out" the damming of the Clarence or Mann rivers.......
The Daily Examiner via Press Reader, 19 May 2018:

Monday, 30 September 2019

Water raiders drop the pretence and go for source of Clarence Valley's drinking water


Having degraded their own rivers and failed to adequately plan their own water security for times of drought, local governments in the Murray-Darling Basin are calling for damming and diversion of water from the Northern NSW Clarence River system.

Thus far the Maryland River and the Aberfoyle River have been identified as desirable options by these wannabee water raiders. 

This is the Clarence River Catchment.
via Blicks River Guardians

The Aberfolye River is shown in the left hand lower curve of the catchment boundary.

The river is approximately 115km in length with an annual average water flow of 19,482 ML.

The Aberfoyle River* empties into the Guy Fawkes River which in turn runs into the Boyd River which is a tributary of the Nymbodia River which itself is the greatest contributor of water to the Clarence River system and the source of at least 95 per cent of Clarence Valley drinking water.

The Nymboida River is also the source for water storage held in the 30,000Ml Shannon Creek side dam which supplies water security for a combined total of 128,198 residents (as well as local businesses and over 5 million tourists annually) in Clarence Valley and Coffs Harbour City local government areas.

Ten years ago the Nymboida was supplying water for a population of 95,000 - in forty years time it is conservatively expected to supply 220,000.


This proposal appears to be based on one of fourteen Clarence River diversion schemes 'desktop' investigated in the early 1980s - specifically a proposed dam on the Aberfoyle diverting water to either Happy Valley, Boorolong or Teatree creeks to feed the Gwydir River, or alternatively an Aberfoyle dam to feed the Gara River. 

Drawing more water from the Upper Nymboida sub-catchment will in all probability raise hydrological and environmental stress on the entire Nymboida River and, may result in water levels at the Nymboida Weir falling below the 225Ml/D low flow level pumping cutoff up to est. 80 per cent of the time.

At the time of writing the Nymboida flow was 200Ml/D.

Indeed, given that rainfall decline has been occurring in the Northern Rivers region for around five decades, any further decline in available river water to supply daily use and long-term water storage has the potential to see intractable water scarcity develop in Clarence Valley and Coffs Harbour City local government areas, as well as a sharp decline in the health of the Nymboida River.

The rest of eastern Australia needs to realise that the Clarence River system is not filled to the brim with harvestable water. The 500,000,000Ml of water annually discharging into the Pacific Ocean at the mouth of the Clarence River was a myth from the first time it was calculated.

Even Clarence Valley and Coffs Harbour City councils will have to curb their desire for continuous development, as they probably have less than twenty years of water security remaining even if the wall of Shannon Creek Dam were to be raised.

Since the Millennium Drought Clarence Valley households have been on permanent low level water use restrictions as a precautionary measure, but as this current drought** may indicate that severe drought is no longer an anomaly but an everyday fact of life, we may be facing a higher level of permanent water restrictions very soon. 

Note

The Devils Chimney in the Aberfoyle River gorge was declared an Aboriginal Place on 8 August 1980. It is protected under under Section 90 of the NSW National Parks & Wildlife Act 1974 and can not be damaged, defaced or destroyed without the consent of the NPW Director-General. Unfortunately the NSW Berejiklian Government does allow for damage and destruction of such sites.

** The NSW DPI Clarence Valley Drought Map as of 24 September 2019:

CDI = Combined Drought Indicator. RI = Rainfall Index. SWI = Soil Water Index. PGI = Pasture Growth Index. DDI = Drought Direction Index
Data current to 24/9/2019 (AEST)

Friday, 27 September 2019

If anything marks this NSW National Party politician out as a foolish man it is this......


Sometime between 23 and 24 September 2019 NSW Nationals MP for Clarence and Parliamentary Secretary for Regional Roads and InfrastructureChris Gulaptis, told The Daily Examiner that those who want to dam and divert water from the Clarence River catchment for inter-basin and/or interstate transfer should raise the matter when the Clarence is in flood.

His exact words were; Let’s have that discussion when we’re in a flood”.

A statement which presumes that, with diminishing rainfall and increased evaporation rates being part of both the Clarence Valley's present and its future, drawing water for an additional 236,984 people, their farms and businesses is in anyway feasible even during a passing flood.

This water extraction would be on top of the current draw for the combined population of Clarence Valley LGA and Coff Habour City LGA - 128,198 people, their farms and businesses, as well as water for over 5 million tourists annually.

Indeed this entire article is typical Gulaptis, who more times than not has to be dragged metaphorically kicking and screaming to defend the Clarence Valley from the ignorance and avarice of a Coalition government of which he is a member.

The Daily Examiner, 25 September 2019, p.3:
Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis has hit back at claims the government is secretly working on a plan to divert coastal rivers inland to drought-stricken rivers out west.
Mr Gulaptis’s comments come after The Guardian reported the NSW government was secretly exploring a plan to turn the state’s coastal rivers inland to provide more water for irrigators and towns in the west of the state.
According to The Guardian, WaterNSW documents obtained under freedom of information show significant work has been done recently on at least four projects involving pumping water from coastal rivers over the Great Dividing Range to replenish western rivers.
The Guardian said the main focus of work has been on turning the headwaters of the Clarence inland via a network of pipes and pumps into headwaters of the Border rivers.
Mr Gulaptis said he hasn’t heard of any plans being put into action.
My discussions with the water minister have been along the vein that they are outdated plans which are not a priority of the government,” he said.
It’s been on the books for a long period of time, and it gets rehashed every time there’s a drought.”
Mr Gulaptis said he would not support any such plans, especially due to the current vulnerability of the North Coast region.
The North Coast isn’t immune to drought – we’re in the grips of one of the worst droughts we’ve ever had and there isn’t any water for us to spare.”
Mr Gulaptis said he believes the plan is a “fanciful idea”.
Let’s have that discussion when we’re in a flood,” he said.
Despite Mr Gulaptis’s denial, The Guardian said the documents showed WaterNSW was discussing some projects with western irrigators last year and that it had commissioned hydrological analysis for some projects this year.

Wednesday, 11 September 2019

Northern NSW likely to remain in drought for the foreseeable future


With the Clarence Valley hinterland in drought and water in the upper reaches of the Clarence River system already low, the following article is not good news for valley communities.

Indeed if the comparison with 2002 holds, then there is a possibility that freshwater entering the tidal pool just below the Lilydale gauge will eventually fall from around the current 286 megalitres daily (less than 10% of historical est. average daily flow) to around 50 megalitres a day.

ABC News, 6 September 2019: 

A rare event that took place 30 kilometres above the South Pole last week is expected to impact upon Australia's rainfall outlook. 

The upper atmosphere above Antarctica warmed by as much as 40 degrees Celsius in the course of a few days — and it is continuing to warm. 

This rare phenomenon, known as sudden stratospheric warming (SSW), could deepen one of the worst droughts in Australian history. 

The Bureau of Meteorology's Harry Hendon warned of dry weather ahead. "We will typically see conditions across most of Australia, but primarily concentrated in the eastern part of Australia, become warmer and drier through spring and into early summer," Dr Hendon said. 

SSW is rare in the southern hemisphere with only one major event ever identified, in 2002 — one of Australia's driest years on record.... 

Sudden stratospheric warming over Antarctica causes westerly winds south of Australia to track further north, a pattern meteorologists refer to as a 'negative SAM'. In spring and summer, this negative SAM pattern brings warmer, drier air into southern Queensland and New South Wales. 

"Unfortunately, these are areas already in drought," said a lead author of the BOM's spring climate outlook, Andrew Watkins. 

Dr Watkins said cooler than normal water in the Indian Ocean, a phenomenon meteorologists call a 'positive IOD', has led to a lack of moisture drifting over the continent. 

"This has certainly been a big factor in why winter has been so dry in virtually all of Australia," he said. 

"On top of that, we have the likelihood of prolonged periods of negative SAM, which also brings drier conditions to New South Wales and southern Queensland. 

"So it's a bit of a double whammy in those locations." Dr Watkins said the impact of the SSW may be felt in Australia through to the end of the year. 

"These sudden stratospheric warming events and the patterns that we see from them can go from September [to] October, sometimes persisting through to January," he said. 

Dr Hendon said he was gratified the Bureau of Meteorology's computer models were able to predict the event. 

"In 2002 we didn't even know about it until after it happened, and we didn't know if we would ever be able to predict it," he said. "It's exciting for us now that we have predictive capability that we didn't have in 2002."

NSW Department of Primary Industries, Combined Drought Indicator:

BACKGROUND

Bureau of Meteorology, 29 August 2019, media release, excerpt: 

FAST FACTS NEW SOUTH WALES 

Spring outlook shows: 

 • Daytime temperatures are likely to be warmer than average across the entire state. Overnight temperatures are also likely to be warmer than average across most of the state, with the highest likelihood in the north. 

• A higher likelihood of drier than average conditions in the coming three months across most of the state. 

Preliminary winter summary shows: 

 • Temperatures in New South Wales have been above average. Daytime temperatures are likely to rank among the warmest 10 winters on record. 

• Rainfall has been below average. 

• Likely to be among Sydney's three warmest winters on record for daytime temperatures, while rainfall was close to average.

Friday, 6 September 2019

NSW Law Enforcement Conduct Commission will investigate complaints concerning the behaviour of officers belonging to an elite police unit in Grafton


The Daily Examiner, 3 September 2019, p.3: 

The NSW Law Enforcement Conduct Commission will investigate complaints into the behaviour of officers belonging to an elite police unit in Grafton in May. 

Grafton solicitor Greg Coombes has lodged complaints with the LECC, alleging officers from Strike Force Raptor targeted him over a two-day period when he was due to defend a member of an outlaw motorcycle gang on an animal cruelty charge. 

The State Crime Command’s Gangs Squad formed Strike Force Raptor in 2009 to tackle outlaw motorcycle gangs and any associated criminal enterprises. 

Mr Coombes said the LECC had two courses of action open to it. 

“They can direct the police to investigate the complaint, or they can run their own investigation,” he said. 

“In my case they’ve decided to take the harder option and conduct the investigation themselves.” 

Mr Coombes said he understood the LECC could recommend anything from exoneration to sacking following an investigation. 

“I’m certainly glad they’re taking this seriously,” he said. 

“It’s one thing to hassle bikies, but it’s another thing entirely to actively interfere with the court process.....


NOTE


The Law Enforcement Conduct Commission is an independent statutory body. Its principal functions are to detect, investigate and expose serious misconduct and serious maladministration within the NSW Police Force and the NSW Crime Commission. The Commission is separate from and completely independent of the NSW Police Force and NSW Crime Commission.

Past investigations can be found at https://www.lecc.nsw.gov.au/investigations/past-investigations/2019.

Thursday, 29 August 2019

Castillo Copper pays out $96k in enforceable undertaking after allegedly contravening NSW Mining Act during activity on its Clarence Valley exploration lease


The Daily Examiner, 28 August 2019, p.3: 

The companies behind mining exploration at Cangai have had to pay more than $90,000 after breaching their license. 

Total Minerals Pty. Ltd. and Total Iron Pty Ltd. put forward a $91,000 Mining Act enforceable undertaking which was accepted by the NSW Resources Regulator on Monday in relation to series of serious compliance issues back in November 2018. 

The alleged breaches included unauthorised drilling, not disposing of drilling waste properly and failing to prevent erosion and chemical or fuel spillages, resulted in both companies being issued suspension notices..... 

Resources Regulator Acting Director of Compliance Steve Orr said mining authorisations carried strict compliance responsibilities. “The community expects companies like Total Minerals and Total Iron to be aware of their legal and environmental obligations and have appropriate systems in place to ensure compliance,” Mr Orr said..... 

It was also noted that both companies which are wholly owned subsidiaries of Castillo Copper Ltd. had taken steps to rehabilitate the affected sites at a cost of “about $300,000”

An enforceable undertaking once agreed to avoids any potential prosecution for allegedly identified breaches of the conditions of a mining exploration licence.

A total of 16 offences were alleged by the Resources Regulator who included this notice to be published by the mining company as part of the enforceable undertaking accepted on 21 August 2019: