Regional water minister Niall Blair has requested an independent review into the impacts of the bottled water industry on groundwater sources in the Northern Rivers.
And local councils have been advised to suspend approving any new applications for water mining until the report is complete in mid 2019.
The NSW chief scientist & engineer will provide advice on the sustainable groundwater extraction limits in the region, as well as advice on whether the current or proposed groundwater monitoring bores are sufficient.
Minister Blair said the NSW Government ‘recognises the pivotal role that water plays in regional prosperity and long-term growth of communities’.
‘Local community members and community leaders have made representations to me on behalf of their constituents and we are taking action,’ he said.
‘I have asked the chief scientist & engineer to investigate the sustainability of groundwater extraction in the Northern Rivers for bottling purposes.
‘Water is a finite resource and we are completing this review to make sure that water remains available into the future in the Northern Rivers catchment for all purposes including stock and domestic users and for groundwater dependent ecosystems,’ Mr Blair said.
Mr George said the review was ‘not about stopping groundwater extraction, which we know is very important to landholders who rely on groundwater for stock and domestic purposes’.
‘I asked Minister Blair to commission the review so that we have a better understanding of what groundwater extraction for water bottling, means for the long term viability of the water table,’ Mr George said.
Nationals Parliamentary Secretary for Northern NSW, Ben Franklin, welcomed the announcement and said councils should not approve any further development applications for groundwater bottling while the review is underway.
‘Until we have all the information available, I call on Council[s] to not approve any further development applications for groundwater bottling,’ Mr Franklin said.
The chief scientist & engineer is expected to provide his initial report by early February 2019, with a final report to be published in mid 2019.