Recent rains have done nothing to change the view that Australians should expect to face future crises in water supply. The mayors of several western NSW councils who face current water supply crises have asked the state government to stop water allocated for irrigation from being pumped out of the upper reaches of the Darling river system, and water supply shortages can be expected in many parts of Australia in the future.
Residents of the Tweed Shire have called for a halt to new water mining approvals in the shire, and that result appears to be a step closer after Councillors Milne, Cherry, Cooper and Byrnes voted to forward a planning proposal to remove water extraction for commercial water bottling from the Local Environmental Plan to the NSW Department of Planning and Environment at the February Council meeting.
Greens candidate for Tweed Bill Fenelon says the recent death of 1 million fish in the Darling River near Menindee Lakes is yet another wake-up call of the consequences from over-using and abusing our water systems.
‘According to an Environmental Defenders Office report, a river is like a piggy bank, if you keep taking money out without saving for the future you end up bankrupt,’ he said. ‘The causes of this devastating fish kill include extracting too much water from the river, failing to set limits on extraction that take into account climate change, and prolonged periods without rainfall.’
Fenelon says that similar principles apply to water mining.
‘You just can’t keep taking water out of our aquifers without a risk of them drying up. Eventually the “piggy bank” will be empty.
‘Our aquifers are our buffer against the increasing threat of climate change and ongoing drought,’ he said. ‘As our rivers and creeks dry up, we will be more reliant on our underground water supplies for domestic and agricultural use.
‘Our aquifers belong to us, the community, not the greedy few selling our precious life-sustaining resource to make a profit. The Tweed community has raised concerns on numerous occasions about lack of evidence of the sustainability of water mining operations, impacts on the rural character of the area and on the road network.’
According to NSW Greens policy, the over-exploitation of groundwater sources will diminish the extent to which groundwater can sustain groundwater-dependant ecosystems. The Greens NSW say that they will work to ensure that no new bores are constructed, and all bores in existence are mapped, metered and licensed.
Mr Fenelon said that if elected as the Tweed State MP, he will push for this Council resolution (removing commercial water extraction for bottling from the Tweed LEP) to be ratified.
‘I will also investigate ways that existing water mining approvals can be revoked so that we can put an end to this environmentally-destructive water mining industry once and for all.’