The Rocky River runs into the Clarence River at Tabulam which is low.
The Rocky River runs into the Clarence River at Tabulam which is low. Susanna Freymark

WaterNSW plan a 'fanciful' idea

CLARENCE MP Chris Gulaptis has hit back at claims the government is secretly working on a plan to divert coastal rivers inland to drought-striken rivers out west.

Mr Gulaptis' comments come after The Guardian reported the NSW government is secretly exploring a highly controversial plan to turn the state's coastal rivers inland to provide more water for irrigators and towns in the west of the state.

According the The Guardian, WaterNSW documents revealed under freedom of information show significant work has been done on at least four projects involving pumping water from coastal rivers over the Great Dividing Range to replenish western NSW rivers.

The Guardian said the main focus of work in NSW has been on turning the headwaters of the Clarence inland via a network of pipes and pumps to feed it into headwaters of the Border rivers system.

However Mr Gulaptis said he hasn't heard of any plans being put into action.

"My discussions with the water minister have been along the vein that they are outdated plans which are not a priority of the government," he said.

"It's been on the books for a long period of time, and it gets rehashed every time there's a drought."

Mr Gulaptis said he would not support any such plans, especially due to the current vulnerability of the North Coast region.

"Quite frankly there isn't any water to divert at the moment," he said.

"The North Coast isn't immune to drought - we're in the grips of one of the worst droughts we've ever had and there isn't any water for us to spare."

Mr Gulaptis said he believes the plan is a "fanciful idea".

"Let's have that discussion when we're in a flood," he said.

"If there is a plan somewhere to use floodwater to help replenish other rivers, that would be great.

"I don't think anyone would object to taking a couple of inches off the top of a flood.

"Of course when it floods there's not really anyone who needs water anyway."