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Beattie's water dreaming « Previous | |Next »
February 20, 2007

When Premier Beattie speaks about water he often sounds like the National Party--more dams to "droughtproof" Queensland, and modifications to the Bradfield's Depression era plan to divert northern rivers (including the Burdekin and Tully) through western rivers ( the Warrego and Thomson rivers) and into the Murray-Darling system. Neither make economic or ecological sense.


Beattie 's view is that his state's got water in north Queensland that gets poured into the sea, is wasted and that it should be used to open up additional mining and agriculture in the state's north. It's the old 1950s water development view pure and simple that is being spruiked.

Presumably there are big government subsidies involved in the development since cost estimates by the South Australian Government price water from the scheme at about $6 a kilolitre, more than five times the price of urban water and up to 30 times that being paid by most irrigators who would use most of the new water.

No doubt the water development lobby will sell the idea of the Bradfield Scheme as another Snowy Mountain style project, and then add, to ensure a public subsidy from the Commonwealth, that this scheme will divert excess flood waters from the north into the increasingly parched southern part of the Murray-Darling Basin. It's the old dream of making deserts bloom and creating an agricultural and mining paradise in inland Queensland. Beattie simply has his hand out for cash to develop water resources in the north.

The Murray-Darling Basin has become the battleground for a water war.The irrigation industry in the Basin does not pay its way, and it is dependent on, and expects, massive public investment. If Beattie wants development up north the irrigators should build the necessary infrastructure. The upgrade to the water channels to prevent leakage and e evaporation in the southern part of the basin should be funded by the irrigation industry.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 6:31 AM | | Comments (8)


Putting water into the Thompson isn't going to help the Murray/Darling. The Thompson runs elsewhere. Geography needs more work.

that account came from the Courier Mail. it says:

Water from the rain-drenched Tully, Herbert and Burdekin rivers in north Queensland would be diverted into the Thomson River which would be connected by pipes to the headwaters of the Warrego River, at the top of the Murray-Darling system, nearly 400km away.

I do appreciate that the other river that forms the headwaters of the Murray-Darling Basin system is the Paroo.

My point still stands. Beattie's plan is about developing irrigated agriculture in Queensland, and less about increasing the environmental flows in the Murray Darling. it is also about ensuring that there is no reduction in the allocations to irrigated agriculture.

I think if we are going to be drinking grey water why can't we at least establish new housing developments with the ability to take the storm water( or some of it) into the grey water system.

not just new housing developments. Older suburbs and beachside houses can install rainwater tanks. Beattie, as well as Rann in SA, ought to be providing incentives to do this.They do in Victoria--$1000 per household from what I'm told.

Yes they can get a tank installed and you get almost all back unless you need to lay a new slab for under it which isnt rebated.
We have council rebates of $100 or so for buying certain dishwashers and washing machines and the council will send a plumber around for a total cost of $20 to supply and install water spreaders for all taps and a water saving shower head....I have a line directly from the gutter to the pool to top it up when it rains.

Parts of Queensland are within the Murray-Darling basin and so what Beattie says about water matters re the Basin matters to me in Adelaide.

He is also asking for a public subsidy from the rest of the nation to develop irrigated agriculture and coal mining in wwestern Queensland. Both the money (handout)and more coal mining affect me in southern Australia.

So it is not just a Queensland issue.

On the dam issue we have local Queensland (mostly National and some Liberal) senators proposing a Senate inquiry to provide a spotlight stage to champion resistance to the proposed shallow-water Traveston Crossing dam for the Mary River Valley near Gympie in rural Queeensland.

I appreciate that this may not go down well with people in Brisbane with lawns and roses and it runs counter to the campaign to paint Kevin Ruidd as anti-dam re his opposition to the Wolfdene Dam in 1989 when part of the Goss Government.

So the dam debate in Quensland has national reverberations.

We need to get past this absurd "change the world to suite our needs" attitude. Early in the twentieth century planners dreamed of "harnessing the Murray" near where I live, and enlightened by this vision built a whole series of damns and irrigation measures that are causing water over use, salinity, and ecosystem collapse to this day.

Instead of having a greater impact, to make river systems do what we want, we should step back, and seek to minimize our impact on the ecosystems rivers make possible.

Queensland isn't the only place people are dredging up old plans from the thirties to build big new dams, there is talk here in North East Victoria about the long proposed and abandoned Big Buffalo dam.

Unfortunately there has been no sign that greater water storage will actually make it rain more. Oh well.

rain is the problem for the dam builders. That is why they talk in terms of drought not climate change. The rains will return with drought.

George Warne, the straight talking General Manager and CEO of Murray Irrigation Limited, Australia's largest private irrigation company, based in Deniliquin, NSW, said on Diffrence of Opinion that they needed to double the water irrigators get not reduce it.

There is no concern there to reduce the human impact on a fragile ecosystem.