How little they know about the Clarence River


It was with bemusement that I read the headlines of a recent edition of the Independent where several towns were suggesting that the waters of the Clarence River should be dammed, and used to supplement the water supplies of towns such as Tenterfield and Stanthorpe.

How little they know about the Clarence River which looks so impressive closer to the coast where its broad expanses are purely tidal.

I have a brother who lives upstream of Tabulam, where the flow of the mighty Clarence has slowed to a mere trickle. Two of the tributaries of the Clarence, the Plumbago Creek, and the Rocky River have been dry for some time, and the flow of the mighty Clarence River can be stopped by placing one foot across a trickle of water that is all that is left of the river.

On Father’s Day, my wife and I took a picnic lunch and went out to Cangai Bridge, on the Mann River, where we spent a most enjoyable few hours. We returned home via Coombadjah, crossed the Clarence at Carnham Bridge, and then down to Fineflower and Copmanhurst. At Carnham Bridge, just upstream from its junction with the Mann River, the mighty Clarence is less than 2 feet wide and about 6 inches deep. To fill one large tanker truck with water would stop the flow of the river completely for some short time. Hardly worth pumping to Tenterfield or Stanthorpe!

The once beautiful cattle country between Cangai Bridge and Copmanhurst is totally devoid of grass and the normally fat and shiny cattle in the area have been reduced to bags of bones, only surviving on hand feeding. The country there is as dry and waterless as the west of the state and it’s on our doorstep.

If ever the Clarence River is ever dammed, and with global warming intensifying the prospect of that is becoming more likely, I would contend that any water contained by such a scheme would be far better used locally, where the cost of distribution would be much less, but the benefits much greater. It is crucial that our political representatives at all levels, Local, State and Federal, put their thinking caps on and start TODAY. Plan for the future, so that future droughts can be managed far better, and the consequences are somewhat less devastating than the current situation.

We must all lobby politicians at every level to forget their “petty sniping and bickering” and get on with some serious future planning that goes much further than the next election. We need bipartisan support and co-operation on a scale not seen before to ensure the future of our great nation. Building dams takes years of planning, wherever the location, but they will become an absolute necessity if we are going to survive in a hotter and drier future.

John Le Couteur, Gulmarrad