A former senior water planner in Queensland's Department of Natural Resources and Mining has poured cold water on the announcement by the LNP that it would commit $20 million towards a feasibility study to examine a revised Bradfield water diversion scheme.
Opposition leader Deb Frecklington has promised that if elected in 2020, her government would commission the CSIRO to begin advanced planning through a $20 million commitment to the New Bradfield Scheme.
"During the February floods in North Queensland, the volume of water spilling over Burdekin Falls Dam would have filled Sydney Harbour in just five hours," she said.
"That water all went out to the sea - but the New Bradfield Scheme would capture North Queensland's water and use it to create new jobs and secure the future of rural communities."
Tom Crothers, a former general manager of Water Planning and Allocation for Queensland who retired from the public service in 2011, described the scheme as 'Bradfield Lite' and said it was a pipe dream to think the state or the nation could be drought-proofed by such means.
"I haven't seen much detail yet but if people think this is going to drought-proof Australia, they need to think again," he said.
"For a start, in that part of northern Australia, over two metres a year is lost in evaporation."
While saying building a dam and looking to make water supplies more reliable was feasible, especially as the Hell's Gate site was one of the remaining viable dam sites in Queensland in his opinion, he returned to the topic of evaporation.
"Surface water evaporation is big," he said.
"Whatever you think about climate change, in the last 30 years average temperatures have been going up and rainfall totals have been going down.
"And you're going to build something twice the size of the Burdekin - what will existing irrigators downstream in that system think about that?"
Mr Crothers' other main objection to the scheme was the lack of engineering qualifications behind the proponents.
"Sir Leo (Hielscher) was a great under-treasurer but he's not an engineer," he said.
"The CSIRO has got the capacity to look at soils and do economic modelling and so on but they're not engineers either.
"It would need the revision of all the existing water plans in North Queensland, all the hydrology and environmental modelling."
He concluded by saying he may be cynical but when he heard that dams were announced, he guessed an election must not be far away.