TWEED MP Neville Newell, NSW Environment Minister Ian                   Macdonald and Northern Rivers Catchment Management chai
TWEED MP Neville Newell, NSW Environment Minister Ian Macdonald and Northern Rivers Catchment Management chai

Our water could be pumped north



NSW Environment Minister Ian Macdonald yesterday refused to rule out sending Tweed water across the border to drought-stricken Queensland.

A month after Tweed and Richmond MPs Neville Newell and Justine Elliot slammed any moves to pump Tweed water across the border, Mr Macdonald said if cross-border water-sharing proposals came from federal Water Resources Minister Malcolm Turnbull to the NSW government, they would have to be considered.

The National Water Commission has engaged consultants through the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation to assess the feasibility of siphoning water from the Tweed catchment to southern Queensland, where harsh level-five water restrictions are to be enforced from next month.

A commission spokeswoman in Canberra yesterday told the Daily News that the feasibility of sending Tweed water to south-east Queensland was a "main focus" of the water study.

The spokeswoman said a final report, with recommendations to go to Mr Turnbull, was expected in the next two to four weeks.

Mr Macdonald said that the NSW government had not yet received any cross-border water sharing proposals, but "under the new water regime, we'd have to listen to a proposal".

"We've had nothing so far from Malcolm Turnbull," he said.

He said NSW did not have the "resource capacity" to connect a water pipeline from the Tweed ? where the Clarrie Hall Dam is almost 100 per cent full ? to south-east Queensland.

When asked what Tweed residents might think about sending water across the border if the federal or Queensland governments paid to connect a pipe-line, Mr Macdonald said he did not really know how locals would feel.

Mr Macdonald was responding to questions from the Daily News about the water debate during his Tweed visit yesterday to announce a Northern Rivers Catchment Action Plan.

? ED SOUTHORN



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