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Byron Shire
March 2, 2021

Water, water everywhere

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Jo Gardner, Group H candidate, Tweed Shire election

There has been a lot of misinformation on water issues put forward over the last 10 days at the meet-the-council-candidates meetings. It is important that Tweed residents are presented with an accurate picture.

Clarrie Hall Dam is not structurally damaged. If the wall were to be raised, a new wall would be built in front of the existing wall, and water levels would need to be reduced by 25 per cent not by 75 per cent. It would be extremely unlikely that we would have to find another water supply during this time as the dam would be at approximately 75 per cent capacity. Even in the worst drought in history we still had over a third of the dam still full.

The claims of 27 farmers affected by the proposed dam wall raising are incorrect. There are approximately 11 farmers affected, being eight farmers directly affected by inundation and three by council buffer zones. Of the total landholders affected at Doon Doon, they are not all opposed to the dam; in fact it’s fair to say at least one-third support the dam-wall raising.

As to the statement of 200ha of old-growth forest flooded, council reports state 1.4ha of old-growth and 22ha of regionally significant vegetation.

The proposed Byrrill Creek dam does not have NSW state government approval as stated; in fact at present it is banned within the Tweed Water Sharing Plan (Dec 2010). An enquiry, requested by the council, into this decision by the NSW minister Hodgkinson, suggested that the dam would fall under the category of major projects, which could over-ride the Water Sharing Plan and would be assessed through the Environment Planning and Assessment Act 1979. The EP&A Act, however, examines the significant effect on threatened species and ecological communities, of which five ecological expert reports have acknowledged the Byrrill Creek area has many (45 fauna, 27 flora, two endangered ecological communities).

The statements made that the land is ‘rubbish’ are a far cry from the truth: 37ha of old-growth habitat and at least 11ha of irreplaceable lowland rainforest in Mebbin National Park would also be flooded.

For the last three years council has focused entirely on dams as the only solution to water supply. Other experts in water have put forward a variety of options to Tweed Council that are achievable to augment the small amount of water actually required by 2036 (1,000 to 3,000 ML) without the necessity of either dam at present.

The Tweed is surrounded by shires (Pimpama, Ballina) that are saving 40–50 per cent of water use by implementing dual reticulation in new urban areas. Our pro-development council has let the developers off the hook, when it should be negotiating with developers to pay towards this sort of infrastructure.

If you as a resident want to start moving towards a sustainable future for the Tweed think wisely on who you vote for in the upcoming election.

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International Women’s Day kerfuffle at Ballina

One councillor walked out of Ballina Council's recent meeting during an emotional discussion about speakers at an upcoming IWD event.

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Blue-green algae amber alert still active at Uki

Last Thursday Tweed Shire Council issued an amber alert for blue-green algae in the Tweed River at Uki, with Clarrie Hall Dam remaining on a green alert. This morning they say the alerts are still active.