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Byron Shire
January 21, 2022

Gas mining could pollute tap water: Rous

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Rous Water has called on the state government to prevent gas exploration in areas it is planning to explore for underground water sources.

The county council, which supplies Lismore, Ballina, Richmond Valley and Byron LGAs, has identified subterranean water in its future water strategy as the best and most cost-effective source to meet its increased needs in the coming decades.

But the recent pollution of aquifers in the Pilliga by Santos mining with uranium and a number of heavy metals has triggered serious concerns among the board at the prospect of something similar happening in the northern rivers.

At its most recent board meeting Rous Water unanimously passed a motion that the NSW government and all the relevant state members of parliament be informed of the specific areas Rous Water has identified as potential future water sources for region.

‘The motion requested that the government not approve any exploratory or production gas wells in the vicinity of those areas under investigation until such time as Rous Water’s future water strategy is fully determined,’ said one board member, Lismore councillor Simon Clough.

There are two petroleum exploration licences (PELs) – 16 (Metgasco) and 445 (Dart) – where drilling activity could adversely affect Rous’s future water strategy.

Cr Clough, who is also a member of Lock the Gate, said, ‘I am deeply concerned about recent coal seam gas activities in the Pilliga area, which have seen Santos mining fined for polluting an aquifer with uranium at 20 times acceptable drinking water levels’.

‘There was also lead, aluminium, arsenic, barium, boron and nickel at elevated levels compared to livestock, irrigation and health guidelines,’ said Cr Clough.

‘There are also numerous reports of significant groundwater drawdown and contamination of groundwater by methane gas and other pollutants, especially in south-east Queensland,’ he added.

‘I believe it is critical that the community’s water resources are protected for the community’s future use.  It is absolutely unacceptable that this community resource for 100,000 people could be damaged or destroyed for private profit before it can be fully investigated for the possible benefit of the whole community.’


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  1. It makes complete sense and it’s fair. Who in their right mind would allow even the slightest risk of poisoning our drinking water? Oh yeah, people who don’t live here and stand to make alot of money out of a dirty industry that the local community opposes. The whole scenerio is nightmarish. If only we had some politicians who had the capability to see sense and do the right thing by the the majority of the population and dismiss this rediculous industry from our lives. It has no place here.

  2. Thank you Rous Water board members – some sense prevails in the face of the relentless push to develop CSG exploration before the facts can be known.

  3. Who is undertaking baseline water analysis of the groundwaters that may be impacted by the Bentley CSG drilling and fracking? There are multiple springs that feed this groundwater into the Richmond River system which then drains into the fishing fields around Ballina. The EPA is passing the buck to NSW Office of Water, so who is doing any testing?

  4. Rous Water’s water plan for the future specifically includes Toonumbar Dam as a water supply important to Lismore, which illustrates the fact that Rous Water’s opposition to gas mining that risks aquifers is opposition to gas mining across a significant area of the region

  5. Very grateful that Rous Water has taken this common sense stand against what would clearly result in an environmental disaster. Although it is intriguing that while Rous Water maintains it is concerned about the quality of the water needed for drinking purposes, as a water authority it has no problem with adding industrial grade fluoride chemical waste to the reticulated water supplies. The artificial fluoride and accompanying heavy metals such as arsenic and lead are all classified as neurotoxicants and can cause neurodevelopmental disabilities, including autism, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, dyslexia, and other cognitive impairments. These industrial chemicals affect millions of children worldwide, and some diagnoses seem to be increasing in frequency. The industrial grade fluoride compounds added to reticulated water supplies have never been tested for safety by the Therapeutic Goods Agency or any other health authority. The EPA prohibits these fluoride compounds from being dumped into waterways. but cannot prosecute water authorities because water fluoridated is not a licensed activity.


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