It is an idea that just keeps bubbling to the surface — pumping water inland from the Clarence River in northern New South Wales.
The latest group to float the proposal is the Toowoomba Regional Council in south-east Queensland.
Toowoomba Mayor Paul Antonio said it would be in the national interest to seriously investigate the plan.
“I think the Clarence has a fair bit of water in it,” Councillor Antonio said.
“I think a very, very small percentage of the Clarence water would make an immense difference to the parched, dry areas of the Darling Downs.
“One of the things we have on the Darling Downs, I think we’ve got some of the best soils that you would find anywhere.
“As a farmer from this particular region, I think they’re the best soils that are available for agriculture in Australia.
“What they lack is reliable water,” he said.
A similar idea was successfully put forward by the Griffith City Council, in the New South Wales Riverina, at last year’s National General Assembly of Councils.
It called for federal funding of a feasibility study to explore the practicalities of diverting water inland from the Clarence River.
But Page MP Kevin Hogan, whose federal electorate takes in much of the Clarence Valley, said he would never support the proposal.
“There’s water piped all over the country and there are pipelines that go for hundreds of kilometres, but I don’t think for cost or for environmental reasons it’s feasible,” he said.
“I have heard many proposals over many decades about this.
“I think for people out west it will never end.
“I think they will always flag this idea, but they’ve been flagging it for multiple decades.
“It hasn’t happened and I don’t believe it ever will.
“There’s always if there’s a will there’s a way, but I don’t believe there’s a will for that to happen in Canberra.
Clarence Valley Mayor Jim Simmons said there was no support for the move at a local level either.
“I can’t see the current councillors supporting the diversion of water to Toowoomba or anywhere else from the Clarence River,” he said.
“It’s a natural resource for the Clarence Valley, fishermen depend on it, farmers depend on it.”
But Cr Antonio said it was time to take a big-picture approach.
“It’s not about robbing all the water from the Northern Rivers,” he said.
“It would be a small amount compared to the volume that goes out to sea from the Northern Rivers.”