A group of Griffith residents and an innovative engineer are breathing new life into a decades-old plan to deliver 1000 gigalitres of water into the Murray-Darling river system.
The plan involves diverting a water upstream of the Clarence River and sending it west via an 80 kilometre tunnel through the Great Dividing Range. It would effectively remove only 25 per cent of the water flowing from the river to the sea but it could revive many communities in NSW, Victoria and South Australia.
Councillor Dino Zappacosta said the Build More Dams Committee had spent years trying to find a way to secure more water for Griffith while the Murray-Darling Basin Plan had taken water away.
“We were investigating ways of creating new water and looking at other parts of the state that could capture it,” Cr Zappacosta said.
“The Clarence River scheme was brought to our attention and committee member Peter Ryrie was able to contact the author and get a copy of it.”
In the early 1980’s, engineer David Coffey took it upon himself to investigate the possibility of moving water west from the Clarence River catchment. His scheme was included in a $4 million feasibility study that was scrapped when the Hawke government came to power in 1983.
For 33 years the plan lay dormant on Mr Coffey’s shelf until he found out about the Build More Dams Committee’s ambitions.
“This would be a huge national project, the cost would be enormous, but the benefits would outweigh the costs 1000 times over,” Cr Zappacosta said. “This is the equivalent of a full Burrinjuck Dam flowing down the Murray-Darling system every year. What price can we put on the future prosperity of our nation?”
Scarcity of water had driven some farmers off the land, Cr Zappacosta said, but Griffith was ideally placed to capitalise on any additional water available. He said a copy of the plan was presented to Sussan Ley’s office and a copy was forwarded on to Barnaby Joyce as well.
“Water is an important natural resource and we just can’t let it go,” he said.