Damn Turnball and his dam ideas

Via Ken L at Road to Surfdom, the word is that the Prime Minister has urged Queensland and New South Wales to consider Malcom Turnbull’s idea of damming the Clarence river as to provide much needed water for South East Queensland.

I blogged on this issue back in January, a post written a pleasant stroll from the banks of the mighty Clarence. There are a number of good reasons why damming the Clarence is a short-sighted, ridiculous solution to a complex problem outlined in aforementioned post. In summary, if the dam did go ahead, Howard and Turnbull would be effectively transferring the water problem from SE QLD to Northern NSW. As a local issue, there isn’t much support.

In an election year, this issue will be a vote killer for the coalition in the Northern Rivers electorate of Page. The current sitting National MP, Ian Causley, will not contest this year’s election. The margin for Labor to win is 4.2% and this issue could see the seat change political hands.

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Posted in environment, Federal Elections
17 comments on “Damn Turnball and his dam ideas
  1. Kim says:

    I’m not sure what the water is supposed to do when it gets to Queensland – there’s no dam on the Logan river which is where Malcolm was talking about piping it!

  2. Noelis says:

    Just an idea so please be patient.!

    This is a policy idea for the QLD Gov’t in regards to the water crisis? (is this the same as the world is going to end crisis?)

    If at present the government is paying a rebate for houses purchasing a water tank, then why not make it mandatory for all houses to purchase and have installed a water tank. The government remain paying this rebate and the remainder of the cost be paid directly to the government over a permiod of 3 years via rates.
    Additionally, the government could create a couple contracts int he process. Idelly a tank supplier(s) and also a plumber to fit the tank.
    At the discretion of the household they could either utilise this contract with the plumber or they could install it themselves.
    Obviously the tanks stay with the house when the owners move as all houses in QLD would also have a tank.
    In use for a block of units they could get a larger one fitted and have a collective tank.

    Whilst this would be expensive (Bias word i know), in comparision with the building of pipe/dams im sure it would be a cheaper and more garanteed alternative. There is plenty of water going to waste of our roofs all across the world if we are going to advance then we also need to advance our methods of collecting water.

    Like i said just an idea let me know.

    Noelis

  3. wpd says:

    Noelis, the Queensland Water Commissioner disagrees. She argues that retro fitting household water tanks does not make good economic sense when compared with other options.

  4. wpd: the key point there is of course retrofitting. The economics for retrofitting, and for new houses, are completely different.

    But plumbing a water tank into your house supply, in an existing house, is indeed bloody expensive.

  5. Lang Mack says:

    As far as I can see it would be the cost of plumbing because of Council regulations and Lawd knows what else that living in a town or city involves. We have four tanks and are rural and of course ,shoosh, do all our own, the cost of the tank it’s self and pad is not that great , running a pressure pump, well thats not too bad, but a tradesman, and inspections, makes me shudder. By the way, we have never run out of water but,have we been close..:)

  6. wpd says:

    Robert, I agree. For new houses this should be mandatory.

    But what is happening at the moment is economic nonsense.

  7. steve says:

    On a more general note Club Troppo reports that Peter Martin had this interesting article in the Canberra Times earier this week.

  8. Brian says:

    The Queensland water commissioner said the other day that they were looking at making water tanks compulsory for new dwellings, but she didn’t say how big the tank would be.

    Also it is still the case that the Brisbane City Council will only let you connect your toilet and laundry for health reasons, although I know so a number of families out in Upper Brookfield who are within the city limits and not on town water. The ones I know just take it straight off the roof without a ‘first flush’ system or filtering.

    We’ve just had a quote for a 10,000 litre tank to be retrofitted, which came in at about $7,000. That’s very expensive water.

    One of our problems is access. One firm said they’d need to hire a crane for $670, because they won’t let their men manhandle a tank bigger than 5,000 litres. This one needs to go over two walls, the first over 3 meters high.

    We’ve got about 200 sq m of roof, so in a very bad year you are going to 100,000 litres from 500mm of rain. The problem is, of course, at times your full tank will still run over.

    Most places I know with their own water have 40,000 to 60,000 litres of storage, but I’m told that if they run out they can buy 13,000 litres of town water for $100.

    Shaun, reading the comments on your earlier post Mark said:

    Also worth noting is the fact that the construction of a pipeline would be very expensive indeed – Qld government engineers don’t believe it can be routed through the Gold Coast hinterland corridor and therefore it would have to go over the mountains.

  9. cs says:

    The margin for Labor to win is 4.2% and this issue could see the seat change political hands.

    Far too cautious, Shaun. As a regular visitor over decades to the river country, let me make one of the surest predictions possible on the forthcoming. If the government doesn’t kill this idea off quick smart, Page will change hands, either to the ALP or an independent. Full stop. End of story. Locals will risk their lives to stop this. It’ll make the Gordon-below-Franklin Dam protest look like a nun’s picnic.

  10. judith m melville says:

    The Howard-Turnbull proposal to divert Clarence catchment water and send it to anywhere it considers politcally expedient is not just flying a kite in the water debate, as government apologists would have us believe.
    Malcolm Turnbull had already met with certain north-west NSW councils hoping to benefit from such diversion, probably prior to his April 2007 announcement of the SMEC desktop study.
    John Howard was also aware ahead of this announcement of one submission in favour by Geoff White, of construction, mining, horsebreeding and racing fame.
    Hansard shows that Mr. Turnbull continues to ‘dicuss’ the issue behind closed doors with those Northern Rivers councils he thinks may be persuaded to back damming the Clarence if it will save their particular coastal rivers from a like fate.
    The hastily assembled SMEC study, which has no complete data or reliable science to back its outlined options, clearly indicates that the Howard Government has lost the plot in its desire to retain government at the forthcoming Federal election.
    If this means using any and all means to corner the NSW Government into acceptance of the blatent water grab, it will do so.

  11. steve says:

    There was no money in the Federal budget for the idea.

  12. judith m melville says:

    Steve points to the Federal Budget [25.05.07].
    There was no money allocated in the 2007 Federal Budget for any Clarence catchment area water diversion, because Messrs Howard and Turnbull have stated that they expect the states to pay for any diversion.
    Though they appear to have suggested to the Queensland Government that it establish at least one small hydro scheme from the diverted water, in order to help with south-east Queensland infrastructure costs.
    Similarly, north-west NSW councils are talking about a hydro scheme in their balliwick if water is diverted their way.
    The only losers are residents and industries in the Clarence Valley and, Coffs Harbour local government area which already draws additional water from the Clarence catchment under an existing agreement.
    All in all, that is approximately 111,000 people who will be at risk if any one of the daft Clarence options were to go ahead.

  13. steve says:

    Judith. Check out hansard from Question time in the Qld Parliament on Wednesday top of page 1614 where Anna Bligh is not convinced that the Clarence proposal will go ahead.

  14. judith m melville says:

    Steve,
    The Howard-Turnbull push to divert Clarence catchment water has never been about the stalking-horse put forward ie., additional urban water supply for south-east Queendland.
    It has always been about supplying irrigators, mines and energy producers within the Murray-Darling Basin Commission water management boundaries.
    Having been thwarted in his first approach by loud opposition from the Clarence Valley region, Mr. Turnbull continues to promote the scheme and, apparently encourage delegates to the NSW LGSA to vote for the tabled motion to further explore diverting Clarence water.
    This daft attempted water grab is not going away.

  15. judith m melville says:

    Just when one thinks that the water-grab mafia, backed by Messers Howard and Turnbull, can not possibly get more arrogant than they initially were – along comes another twist.
    Since April 2007 the Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport standing committee has included in its current Traveston Crossing Dam inquiry, expanded terms of reference which encompass the proposal to divert NSW Northern Rivers water to south-east Queensland, including Clarence catchment water diversion options.
    But the committee didn’t bother to advertise in any of the Clarence Valley’s three papers.
    Indeed, one researcher attached to this committee blithely stated that there was no newspaper listed for the Clarence Valley, ignoring the fact that its principal newspaper had been in existence since 1859.
    Valley residents only became aware of the Senate committee inquiry through a media article which exposed the lack of adequate advertising and, the fact that the hearing would end in a week’s time.
    When a number of local residents emailed their MP, cc’d same to the committee and made representations to the Chair, the senators apparently refused to extend either the formal submission deadline date or number of hearing days, so interested Valley residents could be assured that their late submissions would be considered ahead of the report’s preparation.
    This Senate committee then made cynical, public promises of access for some residents to give evidence via a telephone hookup to the inquiry.
    Monday is the last hearing date and the inquiry schedule shows that this hookup is not included.
    David Marr’s recent opinion piece in The Age “Yes, Prime Minister” says it all – deceit and lies are the currency of a Howard Government.

  16. Brian says:

    judith, one of the problems with the Traveston dam proposal is that the water the planners expect to be available is based on what happened in the past 100 years. The Mary used to flood quite regularly, but in recent times hardly at all. I haven’t looked at this in detail, but my impression is that rainfall near the coast in the Sunshine Coast area has been good, but further inland it has been very ordinary as far as runoff is concerned.

    I wonder whether the experience of the Clarence is similar. If you were going to dam it I assume you’d have to go a fair way inland to find a suitable site where, in fact, there may be significantly reduced rainfall.

    I’d just mention that the weather bureau mob have been just telling us that Qld, NSW, Victoria and Tasmania have had record heat and significant dry in May. There has been a significant shift in the way they are now talking about it. Normally very cautious about climate change, they are now freely saying that the recent weather is part of a long-term warming pattern.

    Anyway I’m wondering whether you have any more detailed information about rainfall patterns in the Clarence catchment area.

  17. judith m melville says:

    Brian,
    The Clarence Valley has only had 71 major and moderate floods in total within the last 166 years.
    There hasn’t been a 1-in-100 year flood for well over a century.
    When Malcolm Turnbull announced the SMEC desktop study findings, one of the preferred sites for a Clarence dam had no water to speak of – one could walk across it without getting wet feet.
    Clarence Valley Council warned it residents and ratepayers very early this year that, in order to be responsible with regard to environmental and urban water needs, the Clarence Valley would probably be on permanent water restrictions by the end of 2007 or beginning of 2008.
    The Clarence catchment area lies east of the Sydney to Wanaaring line and, BOM expects that the catchment has a 60-70 per cent chance of lower than average rainfall in the March Quarter over a decade when ocean currents behave as they did last year.
    Historically the March Quarter is very important to local river systems.
    The NSW Government has stated that there is no unallocated water in the Clarence catchment.
    It is all allocated to the environment, urban water, irrigation, industry and land title rights.
    The Clarence catchment already supplies town water to approximately 113,000 people in two local government areas.
    If water were taken to prop up unsustainable development, industry or agriculture elsewhere, the only longterm consequence would be that the Clarence was just as much ‘at risk’ as the areas currently wanting our water.
    The entire daft proposition is what one would expect, when a suburban lawyer and a merchant banker get together to try and avoid making responsible decisions.

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