Ben’s PNG Diary – Day 2: The poetry of Tok Pisin
The man I call corruption

Pipe dream for PNG water in central Queensland

LIAM PARSONS | The Cairns Post

Fred ArielCENTRAL QUEENSLAND COULD BE the recipient of a massive drink of more than 3,500 Olympic-sized swimming pools worth of water each day if one Cairns businessman Fred Ariel has anything to do with it.

Mr Ariel's plan to build a 2,200km pipeline to transport fresh water from the Papua New Guinea highlands could secure funding from PNG as early as this week.

But the Queensland government isn't even considering the proposal.

He says the vision to source water from the Mendi River and pipe it to Queensland under the Torres Strait has received the backing of the PNG government's Ninister responsible for infrastructure, who will take the plan to cabinet.

Mr Ariel, the Might and Power director, who is also a director of whitewater rafting company Raging Thunder, said the project, which would siphon eight gigalitres of fresh water every 24 hours, had been well received during a trip to PNG before Easter.

He said a reliable water injection was key in making northern Australia a viable base something outlined this week by mining magnates Andrew Forrest and Gina Rinehart, who have called on incentives to be put in place to attract people to the north.

It follows a leaked plan by Opposition leader Tony Abbott that discussed creating special economic zones for the tropics.

"The premier and (Tony) Abbott both talk about decentralisation and utilising north Queensland both in a resource angle and agricultural angle and what's lacking is water supply," Mr Ariel said.

"This goes towards solving that problem.''

Mr Ariel said the plan would help solve many problems surrounding the Murray Darling Basin.

"This project can deliver the equivalent of 8,000 Olympic swimming size pools of water per 24 hours, year round," he said.

"This will irrigate the marginal grazing land along the route, turning it into agricultural land, terminating at Augathella in central Queensland which is the northern headwaters of the Murray Darling river systems

"The Murray Darling problem is not going to go away," he said.

A spokesperson for Queensland Energy and Water Supply Minister Mark McArdle said the proposal was not currently under active consideration.


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Philip Fitzpatrick

I don't think you would even need a big suck at the Australian end Peter, the Coriolis Effect should take care of it. Given that it moves to the left in the Southern Hemisphere you would only need to make sure you dipped the hose into, say, the Purari River to get it to come out near Darwin.

Paul Oates

Peter, does your qualification gain you entry into the upper strata sometimes referred to as the 'effluent society'?

Peter Warwick

As the hydraulics adviser to this site, I can advise that the proposed water pipeline from PNG to Northern Australia is eminently feasible.

If you look at the globe, you will see that PNG is above Australia, and thus water will flow down a nylex hose to Queensland, without any assistance (perhaps only requiring a very large suction action at the delivery end to start the siphoning action).

Had the situation been reversed, massive pumps would be required to move water “up” to PNG.

It is not a pipedream.

Peter was made hydraulics adviser because of his proven record of pushing water uphill further than the next man - KJ

B Bina

Harebrained or not it can be workable if the Australian gavman can pay for the cost of piping about half each of Kikori and Purari Rivers straight to the Simpson desert and making that a farm land.

Our rivers have been churning out water for umpteen years into the sea and it's all wasted.

From Mendi that would be a problem as the costs of piping over traditional land would be exorbitant but at the mouth of Purari and Kikori there will be minimal land use and after 200 miles out at sea, there won't be land compensation.

Australia should seriously consider this as drought or no drought all rivers discharging into the sea at least on the southern side a waste when Australia is panting for water in the dry season.

Phil Fitzpatrick

There is a long list of these hare-brained schemes.

The recycled idea of damming the Purari River and exporting electricity to Queensland.

Piping gas from Hides to Gladstone.

One of the major complaints about the Sustainable Development Fund has been the wasting of money on hare-brained projects.

Most of these are self-promoting eco-friendly dreaming by Ross Garnaut.

To name a few. The sustainable forestry project east of Moresby, the construction of shipping facilities in Daru, and the plan for an industrial park at Wipim in the Western Province.

What's wrong with spending money on curing TB or cholera I wonder?

Keith Hutch

This type of turn the rivers inland scheme pops up from time to time usually spruiked by a "visionary" like Mr Ariel.

The truth is NQ has more than enough rainfall to supply its own needs. Tully for example gets on average 3,389.5mm of rain.

The cost of infrastructure and the low capacity to pay of farmers means these scheme will remain a pipe dream.

NQ farmers still only pay a fraction of the actual cost of water from development schemes such as the Burdekin Dam and are unwilling/unable to pay more as pointed out by the Queensland Competition Authority's recent review into irrigation in Queensland.

The Ord river scheme in Northern Western Australia is another fine example of billions of dollars being thrown at a grand irrigation scheme with little to nothing to show from 50 years of significant government investment.

It would be a sad day if PNG's scarce pool of investment funds went into harebrained schemes such as this!

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