THE NYMBOIDA POWER(LESS) STATION
Is it economically viable, or an ecologically sustainable proposition.
July 2007
A brief history
The ability of the Nymboida Power Station to generate electricity is directly linked to
the amount of available water in the Nymboida River.
860 megalitres of water, which is diverted from a weir on the Nymboida River, are
needed each day to run the plant at full capacity. After driving the turbines, that
water is disgorged into Goolang Creek, and thence directly into the Clarence tidal
pool via Blaxlands Creek and the Orara River. This diversion results in up to three
times as much water flowing down Blaxlands Creek as is flowing down the lower
Nymboida.
It is this robbing of up to 80% of the water from the Nymboida River that has
attracted much criticism over the years. Apart from river flows below the Nymboida
weir being reduced to the ôvery low flow" category for upwards of six months every
year, Blaxlands Creek and the Orara River have suffered major erosion and
degradation because of the unaccustomed amounts of water they have had to
accommodate since the power station was opened in the 1920s.This degradation has
been aided in part by poor agricultural practices in the past, clearing of creek banks
and allowing stock to access the creek. Local landowners report that the Orara
stream-bed has been raised by as much as three metres by silt deposits below the
Blaxland Creek junction, which has also caused a lagoon effect by damming above
the junction. This is is clearly visible from the Armidale Road at Coutts Crossing.
2. The ruins of the old Armidale Road Bridge across the Orara River at Coutts Crossing.
Today's ponding water differs from the free flowing water in the late 1800s (see inset).
This is the direct result of siltation from Blaxlands Creek, a kilometre downstream.
1. A late 1800's photograph of the Armidale Road
bridge showing flowing water approximately one
metre lower than todays level.