A rally at Uki on Saturday succeeded in stopping in their tracks two tankers that organisers say were illegally carting water on the weekend.
Scott Sledge, a veteran Tweed campaigner and coordinator of Northern Rivers Guardians, told Echonetdaily the trucks were carting spring water against the condition of their licences.
At around 10.30am, after the rally had heard from Mr Sledge and Tweed Water Alliance spokesperson Jeremy Tager, the 200-strong crowd ‘spontaneously ran out onto the road to block the tanker,’ Mr Sledge said.
‘We asked the driver whether he was aware that it was against Council conditions for them to truck water on the weekend and he said he wasn’t.’
Mr Sledge said that after they explained the situation to the truck driver, the crowd let the tanker pass.
But the truck returned at around 1pm with a second tanker, also believed to have come from the same property.
‘By this time there were around 70 people still in the park after the rally and they again ran out onto the road and did their own thing,’ he said.
Mr Sledge, whose group staged some of the early actions against CSG licences in the region, said he believes that water mining is becoming ‘the new CSG’ in the Northern Rivers.
It’s become a flashpoint at Uki. They’re very angry about the amount of traffic going through at all hours, which is not allowed.
‘The people just feel like they’re being walked on. The people don’t believe the water belongs to the trucking companies – they believe it belongs to the public,’ Mr Sledge said.
He added that the issue ‘has all the emotional impact that CSG did’.
‘It’s become an issue where a lot of people, including me, see it as an environmental disaster in the making,’ he said.
Saturday’s rally came after a month of mixed news on the issue.
In September, Tweed Shire Council to allow former Labor MP Jack Hallam to operate a water mining operation near Uki, which would see a maximum extraction volume of 24 megalitres per year.
But last week, the Karlos family, who operate a water extraction business at Bilambil had their appeal to the Land and Environment Court over Council conditions dismissed.
There are currently 11 active and pending applications for water extraction operations within the Tweed Shire (see map).