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Byron Shire
March 5, 2021

Water mining 12 hours a day – seven days a week

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NSW Greens MLC Dawn Walker joins Tweed Water Alliance rally at Tweed Council chambers to support the community against water mining. Photo supplied.

Labor, Liberal and National Party-aligned Tweed councillors have once again come under fire by local community groups for missing a prime opportunity to reign in the water mining industry at a key Council meeting last night.

Community groups stepped up their push against the environmentally damaging industry, staging a protest outside Tweed chambers yesterday.

NSW Greens MLC Dawn Walker said: ‘The NSW LNP government has been approving these water mining operations but are now questioning their own actions by recently calling for an investigation into the impacts of water mining on ground water after pressure was put on them by the Alstonville and Uki communities and the Greens.’

The prime target of community ire was around the bore water extraction plant trading under the name of Mt Warning Spring Water.

Community outrage spilled over in the chamber at the decision to stage development consent of the 2016 development application which would extend the trucking allowance so that Mt Warning Spring Water could operate unlimited truck sizes, 7am -7pm, 7 days a week including on Christmas day even before their onsite water bottling plant had been set-up.

Cr Chris Cherry declared the lax conditions of the 2016 DA as ‘beyond belief’.

‘Council had an opportunity to bolster compliance mechanisms to ensure more robust overseeing and monitoring of water extraction amounts and truck loads through restrictions put forward by Greens Mayor Katie Milne such as requiring operators to use log books. These motions, however were rejected by Labor and conservative councillors.

Mayor Katie Milne said:’The community has raised concerns on numerous occasions about lack of evidence of the sustainability of water mining operations, impacts on the community, rural character of the area and on the road network.’

Greens state candidate for Tweed Bill Fenelon and NSW Greens MLC Dawn Walker stand with Tweed Water Alliance member John Davis to oppose water mining in the Tweed shire. Photo supplied.

In a win for community and the Greens, the DA’s for the Urliup and Robert Dawes’s Dungay water extraction license were not approved as requests by council for information were not forthcoming.

The reasons these licenses were voted down include the impact on the community, road damage, and the state government inquiry by the Chief Scientist into concerns over the water bottling industry and environmental sustainability.

Greens state candidate for Tweed Bill Fenelon said: ‘I am a strong advocate for ending the environmentally damaging water-mining industry. Last night’s Council decisions to reject the Dungay and Urliup applications is a victory for the community whose voices have finally been heard.’

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  1. It is quite obvious why so few people turn up. No one knows the rally is on.
    “Promotion” is not a word the Greens know.

  2. Does the emotive term ‘mining’ also apply to farmers who irrigate? Is there a comparison between water tankers and cane trucks? Just wondering.

    • The real issue here is the three-and-a-half wise monkey LibLabNat councillors who voted to legitimise the long-term theft of OUR water by approving this rogue operation.
      Next year there are state and federal elections. Get the baseball bats out for the COALition and Labor, people. Vote Greens and fight back against such government-sanctioned theft and rampant corruption by the old parties.

    • No John,
      While irrigation might be far from perfect, water mining is a whole other story.
      At least with the majority of irrigation systems/functions, the vast majority of the water stays on-farm one way or another, staying part of the system.
      These miners remove 100% of their licensed allocation of this vital resource from the ground and truck it out of the Shire.

      Likewise with the cane trucks. We don’t love them on our roads, but they’re part of a local system that’s been around longer than most of us.
      I doubt a new cane farm would gain approval at the end of Dungay Creek Road if they planned to use those trucks!

  3. water management will require funding. elsewhere all water extraction is subject to compliance. dams, tanks, etc. Compliance and fees not restricted to commercial extracting. Free from the sky, no more. agree with John Davies, does seem a hysteria being fermented. water extraction for agriculture is a fact. root cause of community conflict is lack of action to manage. Our council for years as adversarial and parochial = no vision and no action. business as usual = bury the coast in concrete and transform rural from pesky agriculture to concrete that too.

  4. To reply to John Davies:

    Irrigation water goes back in to the water table – water that is “mined” to be taken away and put in little plastic bottles does not, it’s gone from our water table forever.

    Cane trucks run during daylight hours for a month or so every year. Water trucks pretty much run whenever they want to all year round.

    Massive difference between the two industries I’d say.

  5. Surely if MWSW had any social conscience at all, they would self regulate and not run trucks :
    1. During School pick up and drop off times.
    2. Not run trucks on weekends and public holiday through the tiny historical village of Uki.
    This a least would show sensitivity to other businesses who rely on tourism and local trade for a living. It would also show some awareness of the safety issues concerning local residents and their children. There are already photos of the huge tankers from MWSW, not giving way to members of the public crossing the pedestrian crossing!
    Only one family benefits from this ” increased pressure” on our ammenities, life style, safety and environment, while everyone else is reduced by it.

  6. I live in the area in question and the behaviour of the so called “locals” has been disgusting at best. Facebook forums have shown the nature of these people against water extraction to be anything but caring and community minded. There are ways and means to getting your point across and personal attacks, misinformation and constant whinging are not amongst them. What boggles the mind is that the focus has been out on the Tweed Shire Council to put a stop to this industry, where the energy would be better spent at the state level where the legislation for this industry comes from…. Keep up the good work protesters, all you have done is display just how selfish and un community minded you all really are.

  7. True Pamela, the lack of social conscience by these business is mind boggling ! One would think the companies would wish to be well accepted by the local communities and demonstrate how “beneficial” the water extraction is for the local community and the Tweed Shire in general. Instead the opposite seems the case. We don’t even get the tired-old-story about “significant employment generation” that seems to be the mainstay of most developments nowadays. Anybody worked out how many plastic bottles will end up in landfill by each Tweed company’s extractions?


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