Showing posts with label dam & divert. Show all posts
Showing posts with label dam & divert. Show all posts

Friday, 8 November 2019

Clarence Catchment Alliance is hosting a petition opposing water diversion from Clarence River catchment & mining in the upper river


The Daily Examiner, 31 October 2019, p. 9:

In 2017 I solo kayaked the Clarence River from its source near Stanthorpe in the Great Dividing Range to where it empties into the sea of my lifelong home at Yamba. A couple of months ago I tried to do it again, and I couldn’t. It won’t surprise you to hear, that there’s just no water in the river.
Around the same time I learned there were 18 exploratory mining licences active in our headwaters and that drilling quietly begun some 18 months ago.
I also learned that there was at least one serious environmental breach of one of these licences, resulting in a stop work order and a $300,000 fine.
I also learned that talks of damming our headwaters had been revived by western municipalities. When I heard these things, I wanted to find out more.
I caught up with my childhood friend and lifelong valley local, ex world championship tour surfer turned high-performance coach and Patagonia ambassador Daniel Ross, and together we set out to learn more about these potential threats to our home.
We went on a journey upriver to the source of the Clarence, all around the proposed mining areas, speaking to indigenous Elders and locals all along the river, to see these issues through their eyes.
We learned of the fish kills associated with mining from the old copper mine at Cangai, how the Eastern Cod (which only exists in two places in the world - the Clarence and Richmond River catchments) was nearly completely wiped out by these practices. We learned how it was nursed back from the brink to enjoying a thriving population today, and we struggled to understand why consideration would be given to returning to these practices on an even broader scale. We perceived first-hand the proximity of these sites, on these incredibly steep ridge lines, angling down to the river and its tributaries, and failed to comprehend how mining could possibly be achieved safely.
The more we learn, the keener we are to understand the future plans for our valley, and the safest and best solutions for its strategic management so its splendours can be enjoyed for generations to come.
We are strongly of the heart that the risks from mining along the Clarence, the lifeblood of our valley, are too impossibly high to take, and that these risks cannot fit the profile of a healthy future.
If you agree, the Clarence Catchment Alliance is hosting a petition that our State MP Chris Gulaptis has said he will table in parliament if 10,000 signatures are garnered. The petition is available to sign in local businesses all across the Valley, or available online to download, print, sign, and return to the address on the petition.
Dan Ross and Hayley Talbot
Image: Clarence Valley Independent

Clarence Independent
, 25 September 2019:
Dan Ross and Hayley Talbot are amid producing a documentary about the Clarence River – towards that end they have already interviewed Toowoomba’s mayor, Paul Antonio, who is also the chair of the Darling Downs South West Queensland Council of Mayors, which has applied to Infrastructure Australia to pipe water from the Clarence River “to Tenterfield Shire Council and Southern Downs, Western Downs and Toowoomba Regional councils”. Mr Ross and Ms Talbot gave a talk about the significance of Clarence River, maintaining its health and “how it affects all of us from the headwaters to the mouth”. “It’s not a ‘green’ thing, it’s commonsense,” Ms Talbot told those gathered at the Valley Watch tent at the Yamba River Market on Sunday, “sharing knowledge and getting the message out there.” 
Clarence Catchment Alliance’s Facebook page at  

Friday, 18 October 2019

Morrison Government accidentally tells us more than it intended about its future plans for more dams?


Eighteen pages of 'talking points' compiled by the Prime Minister's Office were accidentally released to Australian journalists on Monday 14 October 2019.

These talking points predictably blame Labor in a look-over-there-not here manner, continue Scott Morrison's personal war on the poor and vulnerable and refuse to look climate change in the eye.

Interestingly for folks in the NSW Northern Rivers region, these points confirm federal government support for abandoning certain federal/state provisions contained in legislation covering water, environment and biodiversity when it comes to building new dams.

The document also lets the cat of the bag when it reveals a wider purpose behind building a Mole River dam in Tenterfield Shire.

Google Earth snapshot of a section of the Mole River, NSW


The current proposal according the PMO is for a 100,000 megalites dam (basically the size of Karangi Dam in Coffs Habour LGA) which Morrison & Co see as assisting not just Tenterfield Shire but also as potentially useful to southern Queensland (See P.4). Morrison expects this dam to be 'shovel ready' two years from now, in 2021.

Water NSW released an Upper Mole River Dam fact sheet at the same time those errant talking points escaped inot the wild. This has the proposed Mole River dam as between 100 and 200 gigalites (ie., between 100,000 to 200,000 megalitres) and costing est. $355 billion. However, Water NSW does not see this proposed dam being 'shovel ready' until 2024 with dam construction completed sometime between 2026 and 2028.

Morrison's 100,000 megalitre dam would be ample to supply the needs of a NSW shire whose total population is yet to reach 7,000 residents, but is perhaps not entirely adequate to cover the needs of local irrigators into a future which is rapidly heating up and drying out.

So why would this such dam be thought capable of supplying water to southern Queensland and where would the potential additional 100,000 come from?

Water NSW data shows that Mole River catchment annual rainfall was less than 600mm in 13 of the last 18 years and, as Professor Quentin Grafton, water economist, ANU and UNESCO Chair in Water Economics and Transboundary Water Governance tells us, at 600mm or less annual precipitation a dam will not fill.

Perhaps the Mole River dam is only meant as a water storage staging post as much of the water capacity is intended to travel elsewhere?

Perhaps Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Minister for Water Resources David Littleproud are paving the way for a raid on a headwater tributary, the Maryland River, or on the Upper Clarence River itself - in order to forever pipe bulk water to Littleproud's electorate of Maranoa in southern Queensland?

Two local governments in Littleproud's electorate are lobbying hard for permission to pipe Clarence River water to their areas and, after all the Mole River is approximately 79kms as the crow flies from the headwaters of the Clarence River as well as less than 57kms in a direct line from Stanthorpe in Maranoa.


Wednesday, 16 October 2019

Clarence River water raiders still meeting opposition to their plans


The Daily Examiner, 12 October 2019:

In a not-so-strange coincidence it was the mayor of Tenterfield who had a starring role in the origins of the Not a Drop campaign in 2006.
In words eerily similar to those being heard today, the then Mayor of Tenterfield, Keith Pickstone, said “We are in a drastic situation so anything has to be looked at, whether it be damming or diverting.”
But while it was Mr Pickstone who was front and centre at the launch of Not a Drop on December 16, 2006, Peter Ellem, The Daily Examiner editor at the time, explained he wasn’t the catalyst.
“It was (Malcolm) Turnbull’s intervention in it, it was the federal intervention.”
At the time Malcolm Turnbull, parliamentary secretary for Water and then Minister for Water and Environment, commissioned a study into the feasibility of the Northern Rivers sharing water with a drought ravaged south-east Queensland.
The resurrection of the Clarence River diversion at a federal level prompted The Daily Examiner to run a campaign Mr Ellem says was “one of the more high-profile” campaigns run during his time there.
Having researched the many diversion schemes which had come before, Mr Ellem said “it just didn’t seem right” that our river system should be “violated” to patch up other river systems.
In his editorial launching the campaign – printed opposite – he outlined clearly why the paper was taking a stand.
This stood in stark contrast to the Examiner’s interventions back before 1969 and Mr Ellem put that down to a change in the way the community understood environmental issues and scrutinised people in public life.
“It was a very different time.
“The environment didn’t rate a mention and the science would not have been developed to a great degree back then.”
Mr Ellem looks back on that time with pride and says you can still see the odd Not a Drop bumper sticker on the back of a ute.
“It tapped into a very strong public sentiment which remains solid. My view is there is only a very small minority of people who entertain the idea (of diversion).”

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.

Tuesday, 10 September 2019

Water raiders show their ignorance and reveal the true motive for wanting to dam & divert water from the Clarence River


There are four councils currently calling for the diversion of water from the Clarence River system - Tenterfield Shire Council (NSW), Toowoomba Regional Council (Qld), Southern Downs Regional Council (Qld) and Western Downs Regional Council (Qld).

These local government areas have a combined population of est. 236,984 people.

Here is the aptly named Peter Petty from Tenterfield demonstrating his ignorance about the hydrological processes at work along the more than 380km length of this coastal river. 

He seems to forget there are irrigators already drawing water from the Maryland River, one of the main tributaries of the Clarence River where it rises at Rivertree, NSW and he appears to naively believe that harvesting between 20,00 to 30,000 megalitres from the total unallocated annual flow of 36,839 megalitres would have no effect on the Upper Clarence.

Even if the proposed dam capacity was only 21,000 megalitres that is equivalent to approximately 57 per cent of the average annual unallocated water flowing from this tributary into the Clarence River.

Mr. Petty is likely one of the people supporting an application to Infrastructure Australia to fund this large dam on the Maryland River, in order to pump pipe water over 45 kms as the crow flies into a region in Queensland which is quite capable of building water infrastructure within southern Queensland to meet the needs of its own population.

Just as the last time councils in the Murray-Darling Basin made a concerted effort to raid the Clarence River catchment when the hidden agenda was obtaining someone else's water to expand their own urban footprint and/or grow their own local economies, Mr. Petty let slip a similar hidden motive this time.

It's not about water to relieve current drought conditions because a project such as these councils are suggesting takes years to bring to fruition and will do nothing to ease current water shortages.

No, it's about conning the Federal, New South Wales and Queensland governments into backing infrastructure which will enable this blatant water theft because "they are looking to expand"

The Daily Examiner, 5 September 2019, p.3, excerpt: 

On the issue of building a dam on the Maryborough River, Tenterfield Mayor Peter Petty said he was not concerned about the effect on the lower Clarence because of the small percentage of water being redirected. 

“With the research and everything that has been done up here, we are talking less than 1per cent,” he said. 

Cr Petty said the water issues regional councils faced now were in part due to a reluctance from governments to invest in water infrastructure. He said if people were serious about decentralisation, then more needed to be done to shore up water supplies. 

“We used to lead the world but there has been nothing done for 40 years,” he said. “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.”

Monday, 9 September 2019

Let’s keep Queensland water raiders proposed Kia Ora Dam and pipeline a figment of their fevered imagination


If ever their was an example of a shared delusional disorder it is the belief that the Clarence River system has spare capacity to sustainably water share with the Murray-Darling Basin......

The Chronicle, 4 September 2019, p.16, excerpt: 


Southern Downs: The Southern Downs Regional Council has endorsed and will submit to Infrastructure Australia a list of five key infrastructure projects which support the future infrastructure challenges and opportunities facing the Southern Downs. 

The council resolved at the August general meeting to submit the following projects for consideration: 

Pipeline diversion of water from the Clarence River in NSW to Tenterfield, Southern Downs, Western Downs and Toowoomba...... [my yellow highlighting]


The Chronicle, 3 September 2019, p.5, excerpt: 

It comes as the council [Toowoomba Regional Council] starts confidential discussions around long-term water strategies, which could include new pipelines from northern New South Wales or even a new dam within the region. 

Water and waste chair Cr Nancy Sommerfield said she had been in constant discussions with Water Resources Minister David Littleproud about a new pipeline from the Clarence River in NSW. 

“The Clarence River is something I’m looking to talk about – there’s been a lot of work done on that, and I’m going to Canberra to speak with the minister soon,” she said. 

“I really do like the idea of getting water from the Clarence, because it also solves issues for the Southern Downs.”  [my yellow highlighting]


The Daily Examiner, letter to the editor, 4 September 2019:
Let’s keep Kia Ora Dam a figment of imagination
It comes as no surprise that all four councils currently calling for the damming and diversion of water from the Clarence River system at Maryland River are themselves part of the Murray-Darling Basin group of councils.
It also comes as no surprise that three of these councils are in southern Queensland.
Just like Clarence Valley Council and its predecessors, these four councils have known for decades that they faced a future where diminishing regional water resources and increasing demand would make reliable water supply an issue for local governments.

However, unlike Clarence Valley Council and its local communities, these councils did not attempt to future proof their water supplies until it became a matter of urgency for their own communities.

One could almost feel sorry for them until one realises that at least one of the Queensland councils has started to explore new dam and pipeline options in its own backyard.
So why this push to dam and divert water from the Clarence River system? Well, it seems the best option in the Southern Downs region is considered way too expensive by the council there.
One has to suspect that some bright spark on this council decided that if all three Queensland councils joined forces and included a NSW council for good measure they could get Commonwealth and NSW state funding for a dam twice the size with minimum cost to their own coffers.
In 2017 Southern Downs Regional Council even published the name of this proposed 20,000-30,000 megalitre dam to be sited in the Upper Clarence catchment – it’s called the “Kia Ora” dam.
To date these wannabee water raiders have apparently not even undertaken an up-to-date desktop study on the feasibility of this dam and pipeline proposal.
Yet still they call for a dam which has the potential to reduce the Maryland River below the dam wall to a trickle even after it recovers from the present drought, and the potential to place the Upper Clarence water supply and environmental water flows at greater risk.
It is interesting to note the Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed Emu Swamp Dam in southern Queensland mentions previous consideration of “Kia Ora” by Sinclair Knight Merz:
“The Kia Ora dam site on the Maryland River in NSW has been investigated (SKM 1997b, 2007c) but it is not considered to be a viable option. A preliminary analysis suggests that, at full development, the site might be able to provide the required water supplies.
However, more detailed yield assessments for other dam sites in the area have shown that these preliminary assessments have all over-estimated the available yield. It is likely that further work would demonstrate that even the indicated yield is not available.
This site also carries risks arising from the reliability of information that was available to be used in the assessment; the unknown foundations; the high dam wall; the unknown side-spillway foundations; cross-border water transfers and delays and costs arising from the inability of the SSC to use its legislated powers (eg for compulsory land acquisition) in NSW.”
It seems these four councils are not facing the reality of their situation as well as failing to recognise that the Clarence Valley already shares water with a much larger regional population to the south of its own borders and cannot safely increase its water sharing arrangements.
Judith M Melville,Yamba
The Daily Examiner, 3 September 2019, p.11: 


OUR SAY 
BILL NORTH Editor 

For communities such as Tenterfield Shire, whose very survival is quite possibly on the brink without a long-term water plan, tapping into nearby available resources could be what is required to keep crops in the ground and families from moving away. 

The difference between life and death. For the Toowoomba, Western Downs and Southern Downs councils in the northeastern pocket of the failing Murray-Darling Basin, growing populations coupled with water scarcity is a worrying conundrum. 

The headwaters of the Condamine River, which forms part of Australia’s longest river system with the Murray and Darling rivers, rise on Mt Superbus east of Warwick. Less than 50km away as the crow flies is the proposed Maryland Dam site on the Clarence River earmarked by the mayors of those four council areas as top priority in a list of projects to be presented to Infrastructure Australia. 

But as one reader exclaimed when they told me they saw the plans on Southern Downs Regional Council’s Facebook page yesterday morning: “You’ve got to be kidding me. It’s like going to the bank and saying ‘We’re going to rob your bank, watch out’.” 

Any plan to divert water from one system to another leaves a deficit – environmental and economic – where it came from in the first place. 

The Daily Examiner, letter to the editor, 3 September 2019, p.11, excerpt: 

Pipe Dream 

 I have just read this article with great concern and I hope Mayor Simmons and CVC are not waiting for these other councils to get in touch with them before they do something about their proposal to divert our precious Clarence River. 

No offence, but I think this decision is above your tier of government, so I would strongly advise that you take a more proactive stance on this issue. 

We have seen already the damage done by misguided water allocations in the past, (think Murray-Darling as an obvious example), probably half the reason these electorates are running out of water. 

 As I’m sure you are aware, we are in the midst of a severe drought, so this apparently small percentage of fresh water that we take out of the Clarence catchment would in real terms be most of the water currently going in, leaving very little to actually continue on to the sea. What a lot of people fail to realise is the Clarence is tidal to above Grafton. 

This excess fresh water, that we apparently have, mixes with salt water from the Pacific Ocean to form what is known as brackish water and is responsible for its own, very diverse, lifeforms. Ribbon grass, other plants, fish and a great deal of other lifeforms rely on this brackish water. It also carries sediment and nutrients vital to the bottom end of the river and the ocean to sustain life the whole way down.......

As a 55-year-old, third-generation born and bred Clarence Valley local, a surfer, fisherman and son of a professional fisherman, I have had a great love and association with the Clarence and the ocean and would hate to see it destroyed by narrow-minded bureaucrats. 

It would be nice to think it will continue in its present form for my children and theirs. 

Leigh Johnson, Tullymorgan

Tuesday, 3 September 2019

A proposal to dam the headwaters of the Clarence River would be a “bloody disaster”, says a grazier whose family has lived on the river since 1880


Freshwater section of the Clarence River
Photo: The Daily Examiner, 31 August 2019
The Daily Examiner, 31 August 2019, p.1: 

A proposal to dam the headwaters of the Clarence River would be a “bloody disaster”, says a grazier whose family has lived on the river since 1880. Trevor Wingfield said the flow in the river at his property at Fine Flower was the worst he had seen since the 1990-94 drought. 

“I can drive across the river on my motorbike and the water doesn’t even cover the tyres on the bike,” he said. 

“The ABC came out to shoot some footage to use on the Country Hour and I was able to ride my motorbike along the river and barely wet the wheels. 

“Normally there would be three to four foot of water in the river at this time of the year.” Mr Wingfield rates the current water flows as worse than the 1990s drought. 

“It took from 1990 to ’94 for the flows in the river to get so low. This time it’s only been about 14 months.” 

He said taking any water out of the system during drought times would be disastrous and farmers along the Clarence would fight it. 

“If they try anything, they’ve got a big fight on their hands,” he said. “I’ve got a heap of women from around here behind me and they’re not going to take a backward step. 

“I call this my river. I was reared on it and my family has seen all that’s happened on it since the 1880s. 

“The Aboriginals told my grandparents things about this river no-one knows now. There’s nothing anyone can tell me about the Clarence River.” 

Clarence Valley Mayor Jim Simmons was also adamant no water would be leaving the Clarence for a long time. 

Cr Simmons said not one of the Southern Downs, Toowoomba, Western Downs and Tenterfield Shire councils had contacted the Clarence Valley about a proposal to pipe water inland from the Clarence headwaters. 

“It’s a little surprising they’ve gone so far down the track without involving us,” Cr Simmons said. 

“Neither State Government has contacted us either.” 

He said the council would defend the region against any attempts to take water out of the Clarence catchment. 

“The attitude here is pretty strongly against it and if there was to be any change in policy we would have to thoroughly consult the community,” he said. 

Cr Simmons said people who saw the tidal reaches of the Clarence River at Grafton or in the Lower Clarence would have a different view if they saw it north of Copmanhurst. 

“They would see some pretty shallow flows in the river,” he said. 

He said the Clarence Valley’s water supply came from the Nymboida River and the Shannon Creek Dam, which supplies water to the Clarence Valley and Coffs Harbour. 

Cr Simmons said the Valley was now enjoying the benefits of planning for the future, which other areas perhaps needed to emulate. 

“The problem for these councils is this plan won’t help them now,” Cr Simmons said. 

“The lead time in consultation and planning, plus the construction of the infrastructure that would include water-conveying infrastructure as well as any dams will take a long time.” 

Cr Simmons said the Clarence catchment would need all the water unless there was good rain soon. 

“We were out opening a bridge on the Old Glen Innes Rd recently and I saw the creek bed was completely dry,” he said. “We might not be in a position to be giving up any of our water pretty soon.” 

The man who kicked off the Not ADrop campaign to keep the Clarence River flowing, former Daily Examiner editor Peter Ellem, said his position has not changed since those days. 

Mr Ellem, a Clarence Valley councillor, said he preferred to leave commentary on the latest developments to the Mayor, but was on record opposing any river diversion proposals. 

The Clarence Valley’s drinking water supplies look good for now, with the Nymboida River flow of 236 ML/day feeding consumption of 18.17 ML/day.

The Shannon Creek Dam is at 97 per cent capacity. 

The Daily Examiner, 31 August 2019, p.18: 

FROM THE EDITOR’S DESK 
BILL NORTH Editor 

Take your gloves off and dig your heels into the muddy (edit: crystal-clear rocky) banks of the Clarence. 

We’re going in for round two of the Not a Drop: Keep the Clarence Mighty campaign and this one could be an epic battle for the ages. 

Views on how best to manage water vary greatly depending on whether you watch sunrises over sea or sunsets over dusty plains. 

Those inland dwellers living in the rain shadow of the Great Dividing Range and sparse expanses beyond are in the grips of despair, pondering ways to manufacture reliable water supplies to ensure their longevity. 

Southern Downs councillors voted in favour of submitting a project to divert water from the upper reaches of the Clarence River west as top priority in a list of significant projects to the Federal Government. 

They see a seven per cent water allocation with large volumes flowing out to sea as a waste. 

We know natural river flows are imperative to sustain fish stocks that drive our tourism industry in the upper and lower catchment, as well as commercial viability in the estuary. 

They perceive that piping water inland will have little impact on coastal communities while rescuing the economic viability of Australia’s food basket. 

We know a dam would have a disastrous impact on farmers living downstream in a Valley where primary production – which includes beef, sugar cane, aquaculture, prawn trawling, fishing, macadamias and blueberries – is worth almost $500 million to its annual economy. 

The Southern Downs region incorporates councils from Toowoomba, Western Downs and Southern Downs in Queensland as well as Tenterfield Shire in NSW and has “a major deficit in access to secure water supplies for urban consumption and for agriculture”, according to Toowoomba Mayor Paul Antonio. 

“New sources of water can include diversion from the headwaters of the Clarence River basin via the Maryland River,” Cr Antonio said. 

“Nothing short of a visionary, nation-building initiative led by the Commonwealth will solve this problem.” 

When the Darling Downs was last gripped in severe drought in 2006, then-editor of The Daily Examiner Peter Ellem deflected calls for water diversion in true Darryl Kerrigan fashion: “Tell ’em up there in Toowoomba they’re dreamin’,” he said at the time. 

This publication launched the Not a Drop: Keep the Clarence Mighty campaign and successfully resisted the federal push to investigate options.  
As droughts get harsher the waves of pressure inevitably become stronger and a government desperate to find solutions to combat the climate disaster may turn to drastic measures. 

If we have to go to war with the Federal Government again, the Clarence River could become little more than a red trickle after that bloodbath. 

As we’ve seen with Adani and other coal-mining projects in Queensland, not even the Great Barrier Reef – a World Heritage area with a tourism industry worth $6.4 billion a year – can stand in the way when this Government sets its mind to something. 

At a meet-the-candidates forum for the state election earlier this year, all five Clarence candidates stood firm against the idea of sharing our water. 

It’s that kind of solidarity that will be needed in the fight to keep our pristine waters unsullied. As the leading and most trusted local media source, we reach a greater audience in the Clarence Valley than anyone else and are your most effective mouthpiece. 

What do you think about ideas to divert water west? Or proposals to build dams, mines and ports in our river system? 

Join the debate, send an email to newsroom@dailyexaminer.com.au and have your say as we fight protect our most valuable asset: water.