Damming of Clarence on table again

THE prospect of the Clarence River being dammed has been raised again.

The public hearing phase of the ongoing House of Representatives Standing Committee on Regional Australia’s inquiry into the impact of the Murray Darling Basin Plan, launched in October last year, is investigating the socio-economic impact of the plan on regional communities.

The Clarence River was raised during the Gunnedah and Bourke hearings on February 14 and 15.

Among those to speak at the Gunnedah hearing was Richard Witten, of the Citizens Electoral Council, a group advocating the Clarence Scheme, which would see a number of dams established on the Clarence and Nymboida rivers in order to send flood waters to drought-affected areas down south.

“The use of the Clarence River scheme, we believe, would inject around 1000 gigalitres into the system, plus provide electricity for our dying power supply,” Mr Witten told the inquiry.

Richard Stringer, another member of the Citizens Electoral Council, also spoke.

“We desperately need some of the eastern fall water up and down the NSW coast – and the Clarence is but one of these rivers; you have the rivers heading down towards Macleay,” he said. “That water could come across to the Namoi, no problem. It is all going to waste. How many floods have we had in Grafton in 2009? How many floods in 2010? They are all in Grafton, and all the water goes to the sea, wasted.”

During the Bourke public hearing the following day, damming the Clarence was again raised as a possible solution to the problem – this time by former Bourke Shire mayor Wayne O’Malley and Councillor John Holmes, of the Bourke Shire Council.

“When talking about some sort of solution for the future, we need a fundamentally different approach,” Mr O’Malley told the inquiry. “We need the conservation of more water to deal with the boom and bust nature of our climate. I put on the table again the diversion of the Clarence needs to be reconsidered, or at least some other major water infrastructure project not only for this part of the state but also for Australia.”

The inquiry continues.

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