Showing posts with label water wars. Show all posts
Showing posts with label water wars. Show all posts

Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Valley Watch Inc: the idea that water can be diverted from one river system to another is flawed


The Daily Examiner, letter to the editor, 8 November 2019, p.9:

Water diversion lesson seemingly unlearnt
The issue of water availability for agriculture and communities has been a hot topic this year and the diversion of water from the Clarence River to areas west of the range is again to the forefront.
The idea that water can be diverted from one river system to another is flawed. Commentary on the mismanagement of the Murray-Darling has been with us for the last decade. Have we learnt nothing from that?
Originally water licences were attached to the land and passed with the land when land was sold. Subsequently water licences were separated from the land and could be sold on the open market. This entitled those who acquired large water allocations to collect and store large amounts of water.
We have seen the Upper Darling sucked dry, leaving little water for downstream farmers or the wildlife. The ensuing ecological catastrophe is a national disaster.
This brings us back to the Clarence. It makes no sense to tamper with this complex estuary by diverting water from it. One could argue that floodwater is wasted running out to sea, however flood is a natural phenomenon. Floods provide fertile soils, richer harvests, healthier forests and habitats for a variety of fish and wildlife.
Only the large corporate operators will benefit. It won’t be the small landowners or fishers who most need it.
What the Clarence Valley offers is a natural environment that underpins our tourism, fishing and agricultural industries. We urge politicians and local council to look at long-term and sustainable management of this wonderful waterway.
Graeme Granleese,
Valley Watch Inc.

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  

Tuesday, 22 October 2019

"Over my dead body": Nationals MP Hogan rejects Clarence River water diversion proposals


The Daily Examiner, 21 October 2019, p.3:


Page MP Kevin Hogan has weighed into the water debate, saying any diversion inland would be “over my dead body”.
With the long-debated issue of diversion has been gathering interest, the Nationals MP said he did not support any plans to put dams on the headwaters of the Clarence River system.
“Every study on a dam and diversion of waters from the Clarence River inland, has shown it to be economically and environmentally unfeasible,” Mr Hogan said.
“In fact, a diversion of water from the Clarence River inland would be over my dead body.”
Water shortages in northern NSW and southern Queensland have led a number of councils to call for an investigation into redirecting water from the Clarence as their dams come close to running empty.
Mr Hogan’s comments came as an increasing number of farmers call for long-term strategies to deal with the effects of drought and his National Party colleague Barnaby Joyce told those struggling to consider leaving the land.
Mr Joyce said those who had failed to make a profit in 10 years should consider their position after 200 farmers lost the $36,000 annual Farm Household Allowance.
While Mr Hogan would not be drawn on whether he agreed with the comments expressed by Mr Joyce, he said “we need to remain flexible” and pointed out how the Federal Government had been altering the allowance since its inception....
He said the changes to the allowance, introduced to Parliament last week, would help provide drought relief to those who had exhausted their four years on the FHA. “We have announced a lump sum payment as people roll off the Farm Household Allowance; $13,000 for couples and $7500 for singles,” he said. “The Bill will also make it easier for more farmers to access the payment by lifting the amount families can earn off-farm to $100,000 a year; and allow farmers to count income from agistment against their losses.”

Saturday, 19 October 2019

Quotes of the Week


"We pursue the most vulnerable people with more energy than we pursue corporations."  [Christine Craik , Australian Association of Social Workers, The Canberra Times, 9 October 2019]

"WaterNSW has responsibility for water licensing, approvals, trading and establishing priorities for water management in the Murray Darling Basin and yet not one of the Ministerial appointed board, has any background or experience in rural NSW or represents the interests of rural water suppliers. Clearly there is a need for change and those who are in charge of WaterNSW need to be more attuned to the needs of river communities and the importance of rules for water management that reflect the importance of maintaining town and country water supplies.” Brewarrina Shire Council, at NSW Local Government Conference, October 2019]

In Australia, the only thing as certain as drought is the subsequent calls by politicians to build new dams.” [ The Australia Institute Senior Water Researcher Maryanne Slattery, writing in The Guardian, 15 October 2019]

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).”

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.

Sunday, 15 September 2019

Good grief! Its 2002 meets 2007 in the Northern Rivers region during 2019


Clarence Valley Independent, letter to the Editor,11 September 2019:

Ed,
Good grief! Its 2002 meets 2007 in the Northern Rivers region right now.
This month we learned that there was an approx. 40 degree Celsius sudden warming in the upper atmosphere over Antarctica which will extend the current eastern Australia drought into the foreseeable future. With the Bureau of Meteorology stating that the last time a similar event occurred was in 2002 when the country experienced one of its driest years on record.
Readers might recall that 2002 was smack bang in the middle of the millennium drought. A drought which at one point saw the Orara River cease to run and at another, the Nymboida Weir unable to do more than supply two weeks of drinking water for the Clarence Valley before the pumps would no longer be able to draw any water up at all.
Last month we discovered that wannabee water raiders from the Murray-Darling Basin were back with another bid to divert water from the Clarence River system so that they could get a larger, less expensive dam built to order and, these four local councils – one in NSW and three in Queensland – can then undertake the intended expansion of their their urban and industry footprints.
Just as in 2007 they come at a time when the Clarence Valley is in drought and water flow in the upper reaches of the Clarence River is low, demanding we supply irrigation and drinking water – this time for an additional est. 236,984 people.
And just as in 2007 the media reports that at least one of the councils has already been talking with the federal Minister for Water Resources about their cross-border water diversion scheme and is pursuing a meeting in Canberra [The Chronicle, 3 September 2019, p.5 ].
The only difference between 2002, 2007 and 2019 is that the Clarence Valley acted on the lessons learnt between 1996 and 2010. Something Tenterfield, Toowoomba, Southern Downs and Western Downs failed to do.
Clarence Valley and Coffs Harbour City expanded their original water sharing arrangement by building the Shannon Creek Dam to future proof as much as is possible the water supply for a est. combined total population of 128,198 people.
Now these four Murray-Darling Basin councils want the Clarence River system to supply water for a new total combined population of 365,182 people.
I wonder if now is the time to remind those politicians who may be thinking of supporting this push to build a 20,000 to 30,000 megalitre dam and pipeline that, the last time an attempt was made to grab Clarence water willy nilly, Clarence Valley communities helped bring down a federal government.
Judith M. Melville, Yamba

Friday, 13 September 2019

Water raiders want Clarence Valley communities to be "grown-up" and just let them go ahead and degrade the upper Clarence River water flow


This was Toowooba Regional Council in 2018 and the Clarence Valley's response.......

The Daily Examiner, 24 April 2018

This is Toowoomba Regional Council in 2019......

The Chronicle, 10 September 2019:

TOOWOOMBA Mayor Paul Antonio has called on his New South Wales colleagues to be part of a “grown-up discussion” over long-term water strategies, including a pipeline from the Clarence River.
Cr Antonio’s comments come amid a push-back from the Grafton community over discussions to connect the bountiful Clarence system to struggling areas in the Southern and Western Downs to combat the effects of drought.
Clarence Valley Mayor Jim Simmons said last week he was adamant no headwaters would be leaving the system in the near future, even as the multi-council water allocation plan collects speed.
But Cr Antonio said it was important that all options were explored to ensure the east coast of Australia was well-supplied.
“I think we’ve got to be grown up and have a discussion around that,” he said.
“The Maryland river system has a 21,000ML yield, would take a fraction of water from the Clarence, but make a profound difference.
“We need the state governments in Queensland and New South Wales to facilitate a conversation around water strategies, and I’m having some robust discussions with the mayor of Tenterfield (Peter Petty) at the moment about it.”
The council endorsed a motion early last year to investigate a pipeline from the Clarence River, and the Southern Downs Regional Council made a similar commitment late last week.
Cr Antonio said continuous consultations over water would become the reality for councils and state governments in the near future.
“Water is the new currency, water is the limiting factor in population growth and food production in this area and many other areas,” he said.
“Now is the time to reflect on where we are and put strategies in place and it will lift this nation and make it more productive.”

Clarence Valley Independent, 4 September 2019:

In a video on SDRC’s Facebook site, the [Southern Downs Regional Council] mayor says “we have letters of support from Toowoomba regional Council and Paul Antonio, mayor of Toowoomba, [who is] also the chair of the Darling Downs South West Queensland Council of Mayors”.
Mr Antonio said in his letter: “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.”
Mr Antonio referred to a “crisis meeting” held among each of the councils on May 16.
“It was agreed we will work together to spread resources through planning to interconnect our [water] supplies….” he writes.
“New sources of water can include diversion from the headwaters of the Clarence River basin, via the Maryland River, and access to recycled water from Brisbane.
“Both these options require major investment well beyond the means of the councils involved.
“They also will take a merging of political wills across all three levels of government.
“Nothing short of a visionary, nation-building initiative led by the Commonwealth will solve the problem.
This is a Clarence Valley resident's response in 2019.....

The Mayor of Toowoomba, Paul Antonio, claims to want "grown-up discussions" concerning a proposal to dam and divert Clarence River system water across the border into southern Queensland.

Yet strangely he has not been adult enough himself to notify Clarence Valley Council of this proposal or enter into dialogue with this council which represents the majority of people and communities living along the length of this NSW river system.

What Cr. Antonio also forgets or just chooses to ignore when touting his "nation building initiative" is that there in a legislated, carefully considered water sharing plan already in place - the Water Sharing Plan for the Clarence River Unregulated and Alluvial Water Sources 2016.

This plan covers the Maryland River and specifies the limits to granting water access licences, as well as limits to the maximum amount of water which can be drawn off this river which is set out as 995 ML/yr.

It also specifies when extraction should cease due to low flows; "Water must not be taken when the height of the water in Maryland River passing through the culvert pipes over the Rivertree Road near the southern boundary of portion 33, Parish of Reid, County of Buller, is less than or equal to 50 mm."

The plan defines the constraints on harvestable water rights as those set out in Water Management Act 2000 - Sect 53 & 54. This state act blocks supplying "any other land" with water that has been captured by landholders on the Maryland River.

Additionally, the plan limits the water extraction licence pool to an upper limit of 990 share components.

This water sharing plan was not something that was created without "grown-up discussions". Because NSW stakeholders recognized that our rivers are markedly variable and there is significant competition for water (especially in dry times). So there had to be an evidence-based balance between the needs of users and the need for a sustainable environmental flow in this particular Clarence River tributary.

Because without a genuine environmental flow entering the Clarence River at the confluence of the Maryland and Clarence Rivers, the upper Clarence River would overtime become a degraded waterway.

Cr. Antonio is talking of building an in-river dam and, as the proposed amount of water to be held back from entering the Clarence River under this water raiding scheme is actually 55.5% of the average annual flow of the Maryland River and an est. 57% of its unallocated annual flow, it is hard to see how environmental flows below this proposed dam wall can be reliably met.

Especially given there are existing landholder water entitlements in the Rivertree region on which local farmers depend as they come to grips with changing rainfall patterns.

This Queensland local government councillor is yet to demonstrate that he has any understanding of the interconnective nature of hydrological processes at work along the more than 380 km length of the Clarence River from its headwaters to coastal estuary mouth.

Cr. Antonio appears to see the Clarence River system in terms of the potential for economic growth in his own region -  failing to see the very real aesthetic, cultural, social, environmental and economic values it holds for the people of the Clarence Valley.

He does not take into consideration that the Clarence River system already supplies the water needs of 128,198 residents in the Clarence Valley and Coffs Harbour City local government areas and, that this river underpins two regional economies which together were worth an estimated $5.58 billion in 2018. [See Clarence Valley Council Economic Profile and Coffs Harbour City Council Economic Profile]

One might suspect that Cr. Antonio (who will presumably be seeking re-election in a little over five months) views this water diversion proposal solely through the narrow lens of his own political and personal financial ambitions.

Background

2. ABC News, 7 December 2018:

A southern Queensland Mayor has been fined nearly $15,000 after he was found to have engaged in misconduct in his dealings with the Melbourne-to-Brisbane Inland Railway project.
In an interview with the ABC in 2017, Councillor Paul Antonio, who owns a gravel quarry near Millmerran on the route chosen by the Federal Government, conceded he stood to benefit from the inland rail project.
The ABC revealed, Cr Antonio personally paid $4,900 to have an alternate route for the project investigated, which took the line to the very edge of his quarry.
Cr Antonio told the ABC he paid for the map to find an alternative that did not go through prime agricultural land in Millmerran, to help affected farmers.
After initially telling the ABC he gave the map only to one Millmerran farmer, he later conceded he provided the map to former industry minister Ian MacFarlane, who is now the chief executive of the Queensland Resources Council, and the Federal Member for Groom, John McVeigh.
The matter was referred to the Local Government Regional Conduct Review Panel in April 2018 after a complaint was made by a fellow councillor and a member of the public.
The panel decided the complaint of misconduct was sustained.....
Cr Antonio was fined $14.360.50, ordered to undergo counselling, make an admission of error, and apologise at the next council meeting.
The panel also recommended the Local Government Department's chief executive officer monitor Cr Antonio for compliance with the Local Government Act.....