Southern Downs Regional Council Mayor Tracy Dobie.
Southern Downs Regional Council Mayor Tracy Dobie. Marian Faa

PIPE DREAM: Drought-ravaged councils look to dam Clarence

WITH water supplies dwindling across Tenterfield, Toowoomba, and the Southern and Western Downs, councils across southeast Queensland and western NSW have blown dust off their plans to dam the Clarence River. However, Clarence Valley Council Mayor Jim Simmons has said they had not been involved in any of these discussions.

At a Southern Downs Regional Council Q&A session last week, the Mayor Tracy Dobie said her council was looking into securing a diversion of the Clarence River in the upper catchment.

Cr Dobie said the four councils of Tenterfield, Toowoomba, Western Downs and Southern Downs were working together on the proposal to receive an allocation of the river.

"If you look at Toowoomba, they're going to run out of water in 30 years, they need supplementary water, that's why we're looking at the diversion of the Clarence, where only seven per cent of that water is allocated at the moment," Cr Dobie said.

While this idea has been raised since the 1980s, Cr Simmons said Clarence Valley Council had not been involved in any discussions to dam the Clarence River.

"These councils have not involved Clarence Valley Council in any discussions, and we've had no input into these discussions," Cr Simmons said.

"If they're looking at it seriously, they need to seriously get the people that it affects involved in their discussions and we've not been approached to date, and the Clarence Valley would very much be affected by it.

"The message we've got in the past is that people are opposed to any proposal to dam or divert the Clarence River, it's a pretty big subject so I would like to see some more details if this is something these councils are seriously looking at."

In May this year, the Warwick Daily News reported Cr Dobie joined Toowoomba Mayor Paul Antonio, Western Downs Mayor Paul McVeigh and Tenterfield Shire councillor Gary Verri in Warwick to discuss a plan to secure an allocation from the Clarence River.

Cr Dobie said a pipeline would be used to move the water to Queensland using gravity. "If you look at the Clarence there's only a small percentage that is allocated out for urban and industrial use and the rest goes out to sea," she said.

Water security in southeast Queensland is a major issue, with many councils enforcing severe water restrictions.