PRECIOUS: The beautiful Gorge area in the upper Clarence. Toowoomba are keen to see some of this valuable resource flow their way.
PRECIOUS: The beautiful Gorge area in the upper Clarence. Toowoomba are keen to see some of this valuable resource flow their way. Simon Hughes

CLARENCE WATER RAIDERS: 'Tell 'em they're dreaming'

"TELL 'em they're dreaming" has been the response to a plan hatched by a Queensland council to pipe water from the Clarence River to their city water supply.

A former editor of The Daily Examiner and current Clarence Valley councillor Peter Ellem tapped into the vibe of the Australian cinema classic The Castle, when told of Toowoomba City Council's proposal earlier this month.

"I do not speak on behalf of Clarence Valley Council, but to quote that famous Australian Darryl Kerrigan, 'Tell 'em up there in Toowoomba they're dreamin'," MrEllem said.

"I am yet to see the details of this latest attempted raid on our precious water resources, I believe The Daily Examiner's Not A Drop, Keep the Clarence Mighty campaign still resonates powerfully with local communities up and down the river."

Mr Ellem said the campaign to keep the Clarence River system intact was rooted in economics.

"The Clarence Valley's agricultural, fishing and tourism industries are far too valuable to be put at risk by such a pipeline," he said.

"Hopefully, it will remain just another pipe dream."

Last week Toowoomba councillors voted to submit a motion at the June 17-21 Australia Local Government Association's national general assembly, asking for an investigation into the proposal.

The motion wants the assembly to consider "an option to pipe water from the Clarence River in New South Wales to the Toowoomba and Darling Downs Region and thereby invest in the water infrastructure of the 21st century to grow regional economies".

The motion to be put is a reworked version of that from Griffith City Council to pipe Clarence water inland.

Clarence Valley Mayor Jim Simmons said Toowoomba Regional Council had made no contact with Clarence Valley Council about its proposal.

He said the council had a long-standing position opposing the diversion of water from the Clarence and that position had not changed.

Plans to divert water from the Clarence inland began early last century with local luminaries like Sir Earle Page prominent among them.

In 2006 then Federal Environment and Water Resources Minister Malcolm Turnbull sent a team of engineers to the Clarence to sound out the locals.

Severe water shortages in South East Queensland had drought-stricken communities looking enviously south to a seeming endless flow of water in the Clarence.

The Clarence Valley Mayor at the time, Ian Tiley, found himself in the hot seat when he presented the news of the Federal Government's plans.

The soon-to-be CrTiley's successor, CrRichie Williamson described CrTiley's suggestions as "bizarre".

"The message is loud and clear in the community," he said.

"They don't want water changed or diverted anywhere else."

"There is a mayoral meeting in September ... all councillors will be weighing up their options ... it has the potential to (impact on the mayoral vote).

"It is not the first time it has been spoken about ... I'm sure Clarence people don't want to see it happen."

Another councillor destined for higher political honours, Chris Gulaptis, also attacked the proposal.

"The water in the Clarence River is a resource which belongs to the Clarence catchment, we need it to maintain a healthy river, which gives us a fishing industry, a tourist industry and a lifestyle," he said.

"It's taken us 20 years to build the Shannon Creek Dam and we're not going to give it (water) away."

Last month Grafton patriarch Bill Dougherty sought to breathe life into the Dam-the-Clarence proposal, although his plans had nothing to do with Queensland.

Inspired by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's recent Snowy Mountains 2.0 plan for electricity generation, MrDougherty would like to see the Clarence River generating electricity, not sending water north.



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