Tweed water mining under the spotlight

One of Black Mount’s B-Doubles leaves the Kynumboon water mining facility. Black Mount insist they don’t use them on our roads. (Tweed Water Alliance)

Opponents of water mining in the Tweed shire have released a report showing alleged chronic and serious breaches of development approvals at four water mining operations.

The report formed the basis of a story on the ABC’s 7.30 program last night, which will air again on the ABC’s Landline program on Sunday.

The Tweed Water Alliance has also presented a petition with more than 1,200 signatures to the Tweed Shire Council in an effort to stop a proposal by Mt Warning Spring Water and Black Mount water transport company to allow 55 tonne B-Doubles to travel along Kyogle Road through Uki and Murwillumbah.

TWA spokesman Jeremy Tager said that the monitoring and enforcement of conditions by the NSW Office of Water and Tweed Shire Council were non-existent and reports of breaches constant, ‘so we decided we needed to find out the truth of the various breach allegations we received from the community’.

‘It was far worse than we expected. The attitude of the industry appears to be, ‘We can do whatever we want’. In one case, an operator continued to run almost double the number of permitted trucks even as he is litigating against Council for daring to turn down a massive expansion of his water mining operation.

Mr Tager said even when breaches had been identified NSW Office of Water has never imposed a penalty and Tweed Shire Council has imposed a fine twice .

‘The TWA’s investigation was motivated in part by the fact that this is a lose lose industry. It provides no benefit – not jobs or revenue – to the Shire, but ruins amenity, gives our roads a pounding, threatens to take water from the world heritage rainforests that surround us and ends up in plastic bottles that are part of what is one of the world’s worst waste issues.

‘The industry comprehensively fails the most basic public interest test.

‘The Tweed Water Alliance is calling for a full investigation by NSW Office of Water and Tweed Shire Council using the strong investigative powers they have.

‘If water theft is proved, licence must be cancelled and any ill-gotten profits repaid. Our water must remain in the Tweed for the benefit of its residents and environment.

Meanwhile, the TWA has called on the Tweed Shire Council to ‘listen to the voices of residents’ and reject a proposal to allow 55 tonne B-Doubles on local roads.

A Tweed Shire Council spokesperson said the petition was presented to councillors at its March 22 meeting.*

She said the council would not be making comment on the 7.30 story as there was a court case pending.

*A previous version of this story correctly quoted a Tweed Shire Council as saying the petition would be presented next month. We have since been advised that it was presented at the March 23 council meeting, a day after the story was originally published.



7 responses to “Tweed water mining under the spotlight”

  1. Tim Shanasy says:

    Are there people out there that still BUY water in friggin plastic bottles??
    Even having water delivered in a truck, is a moral crime in this country when safe reticulated water is available, like here on the east coast.
    This is Australia, not India.
    ABC’s 7.30 last night had the company owner say that people want “healthy water” !!
    Well, it’s right here in our taps.
    It’s incredibly and permanently unhealthy to further fill out poor struggling planet with this seemingly endless barrage of totally avoidable and unnecessary plastic.

    • Joachim Staats says:

      Spot on comment. Furthermore the whole issue of ‘water theft’ first sparked by The Murray Darling Basin corruption needs a Federal Royal Commission. Now ex-Premier Jay Wetherill started a South Australian Royal Commission but it needs to go a lot further. Water is the world’s most precious resource and we can’t have water thievery taking hold here in Australia. It needs to be stomped out.

    • Peter Hatfield says:

      Well said Tim. My father Ted Hatfield was president of the Byron Shire and the Rous County Council in the early fifties and worked hard to get safe reticulated water to our towns, including the Bay where we lived. He was a chemist and my sister Dorothy recalls he checked the water quality for impurities every day to ensure its quality. As a man well trained in chemistry – his father was a science master at Fort Street before becoming headmaster at Armidale, Murbah and Lismore – Dad would turn his grave to see the Council he once led with diligence and competence does not have the political courage to do the correct thing and stand up to the pressure from ill-informed constituents opposed to Fluoride. Other councils accept the un-corrupted advice of the National Health and Medical Research Council’s Fluoride Reference Group – whose membership covers expertise in environmental toxicology and engineering, pediatric and geriatric dentistry , dental and public health epidemiology and public health management and ethics – that fluoride is safe and should be added to our water supplies. Notwithstanding the Byron Shire’s feeble-mindedness on one issue, all our councils continued to ensure we get good quality water that is safe to drink and in our area is free from unpleasant tastes. It is pathetic that some people see a need to buy water and pollute our planet with its containers – a fine example of more money then sense.

  2. Vince Kean says:

    In a sane world council would simply reply with a chorus (suitably adapted) of the Pub Favorite.

    Bugger off you bastards bugger off. EFF YOU
    Bugger off you bastards bugger off. EFF YOU
    You’re a herd of feral pigs taking water from our trough
    But you’ll get no more from this place
    so you’d better bugger off.

    Perhaps we could get a local choir to accompany their exhaust fumes as they leave the valley (for good) with a few rousing choruses.

  3. Andy says:

    These back roads are well frequented by motorcyclists who contribute to the economy of cafes and shops in Kyogle, Uki and Murwillumbah. A procession of slow, over sized tankers on pot holed roads will quickly make the ride lose its charm.

  4. Janelle says:

    I am so grateful to Tweed Water Alliance for taking up this fight. I do feel that the danger of our roads needs to be highlighted. I have encountered Water tankers coming out of our valleys, and at school bus times. This danger and the destruction of our roads is unwarranted by an industry that serves so few, and steals water from our precious aquifers.

  5. Robert Thomas Witham says:

    Think about it, if the town water was tops no one would buy bottled water. Fluoride is a poison, fact. As for depleting the creek the under ground water is most likely primary water welling up from deep in the earth as new water. I am a water dowser with some understanding of water. Either fix the road or put a pipe line in to a more suitable point. Clean pure water is better for children to drink than left for green fools to wash there feet in. Bravo to Larry Karlos As for bottles and most plastic it can be turned back to oil in a simple process but no one seems wants that, would 10c per empty bottle return solve the waste problem?.

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