PRECIOUS RESOURCE: There are no plans to dam the Clarence River, says Kevin Hogan
PRECIOUS RESOURCE: There are no plans to dam the Clarence River, says Kevin Hogan Margie Jefferies

JUST ADD WATER: Nats solution to crisis comes at a cost

"JUST add water" is the Nationals' answer to "unleashing the potential" of regional Australia but it would come at a cost to areas flush with the precious resource.

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack announced on Tuesday at the National Press Club that a returned Coalition government would establish an authority, the National Water Grid, to manage water policy and infrastructure.

"We know the key to unlocking the potential of regional Australia is simple - just add water," he said.

The announcement has sparked fears the Clarence and Nymboida rivers may be dammed to irrigate drought-stricken areas of the country - a prospect the Clarence Valley community has faced before.

The Nationals' Member for Page, Kevin Hogan, said there were "no plans to dam the Clarence River".

"This chestnut comes out every three years at election time - the community have spoken loudly in the past," he said.

He said the message was received loud and clear after The Daily Examiner's Not A Drop campaign in 2006 helped stop the revival of a plan to pump water from the Clarence.

The planned National Water Grid would ensure water infrastructure would be based on the best available science, "not on political agendas", Mr McCormack said.

It would "provide the pipeline of all established, current and future water infrastructure projects and then identify the missing links".

Mr McCormack said dams were the answer to "create jobs", "back agriculture and back farmers".

"While we are being bold and building big, we are often stopped at the first hurdle when it comes to short- sighted state governments that choose politics over practicality, and indeed science," he said.

Clarence Valley councillor Debrah Novak has labelled the potential damming of the waterways as dangerous to the environment and the Valley's million-dollar industries.

"There are numerous examples of man-made projects to divert other rivers that have created long-term ruin and community closures," she said.

"The recent South Australia Royal Commission into the Murray-Darling Basin is a significant example of what not to do or grow in a region where the most precious natural resource, on the planet's driest continent, water, has been compromised by politics."

Independent candidate for Page Fiona Leviny also opposed any plan that would potentially dam the Clarence or Nymboida rivers.