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