NSW to Queensland water pipeline would be "cost-effective": Report

Thursday, April 12, 2007

The Clarence River at Grafton

Australian Water Resources Minister, Malcolm Turnbull will release a report in Brisbane today which suggests the piping of water from rivers in Northern New South Wales to South-East Queensland would be a cost-effective solution to water supply problems in drought stricken South-East Queensland.

The report comes just days after South-East Queensland was placed on level 5 water restrictions, the second most severe and the emergence of a report by the Queensland government recommending the construction of a desalination plant north of Brisbane to tackle the region's water crisis.

According to newspapers published by News Limited, the National Water Commission report, which was compiled by the Snowy Mountains Energy Corporation outlines five proposals for piping water from Northern NSW into Queensland. Four of those include damming the Clarence River and pumping water to the Logan River and one suggesting to dam the Tweed River and pumping water to the Nerang River.

The water commission report argues that the best solution over the long-term would be to damn the Clarence River above Duck Creek.

It is believed that should the plan go ahead, the federal government will spend hundreds of millions of dollars on the project. The report argues that the piping of water from NSW would cost less than water recycling, desalination or the proposed dam at Traveston Crossing.

The report is expected to gain only minor attention from the Queensland government, which claims that it is too far to pump water from NSW.

Queensland's opposition leader, Jeff Seeney said the government should of looked at the possibility of getting water from NSW long ago and that the distance water is to be piped is much shorter than the Traveston Crossing Dam peoposal. "The northern river proposal is talking about piping water over a much shorter distance than the Traveston proposal, so it is likely to be much more cost effective," he said.

The report warned of the difficulty the proposal would have gaining support in NSW. "The rivers of Northern NSW are subject to a number of legislative and policy requirements that would need to be addressed in a more detailed assessment," it warns.

Ian Tiley, mayor of the Clarence Valley Council warns that any plan to dam the Clarence River would meet with stiff resistance from local residents. "If there's one issue that unites the vast majority of the Clarence people, it's the mighty Clarence River," he warned.

"And the council, and I believe the vast majority of people in this valley, are totally opposed to (the plan).

"We'll stand shoulder to shoulder and fight with the Clarence citizens."

NSW Nationals MP for Clarence Steve Cansdell said he believes the water minister should "get in a kayak and go up the Clarence ... and just have a look and see the pristine nature of this and the delicate nature of our water system".