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Whose water is it?

Property Number: 41481, Lot Section Plan: 1//DP883113. Address: 2574 Kyogle Road, Kunghur.

The people of the Tweed Shire would like to drink their own water and not see it bottled in plastic*, shipped off snd sold.

The Northern Rivers Guardians (NRG) president Scott Sledge is asking Tweed Council to turn off the tap to further water mining.

‘Tweed Council has received a development application (DA19/0346) from Mount Warning Beverage Company. It will involve a three-fold increase in extraction from 50 to 150 megalitres a year and allow 32 truck movements a day between 4am and 9pm.

Those opposed to the increase are being urged to make a submission to council outlining their concerns.

Labor honours water commitments

Tweed councillor Reece Byrnes says Labor’s support of the removal of water extraction for bottling from the Tweed LEP (Local Environment Plan) has ensured that no further water extraction business operations will be established or allowed in the Tweed Shire.

‘This was a policy taken by our Labor state candidates in the last state election, and I continue to honour Labor’s strong commitment to the community.

Councillor Reece says that The LEP amendment is an effective moratorium against any further water extractors coming into the Shire.

‘However, existing businesses will still be allowed to operate, as any retrospective action would be deemed high risk for council and illegal to pursue,’ he said.

‘Mount Warning Beverage Company is an existing business and therefore can continue to operate. As a business, like any other, they can submit development applications in relation to their business.’

Extraction licence granted

Tweed Shire Deputy Mayor Chris Cherry says that in terms of expansion, the state government Office of Water has granted the 150ML licence.

‘Now it will be up to us as councillors to assess both the amenity impacts of transporting the water off the land, and the assessment of whether that water extraction may have an impact on neighbouring properties and groundwater resources,’ she said.

‘The assessment of potential impacts on the local water table is very important. The bar is very high for council, we need to be convinced that this will not have an adverse impact on agricultural land or natural ecosystems, which is hard to be sure of with the current available science.’

Councillor Reece says that council’s continuing role in the existing extraction operations are still largely limited to the regulation of truck approvals and their movements upon the road.

‘Water extraction licences, their volumes, their monitoring and regulation, and the scientific knowledge of water movement below ground remain the responsibility of the state government,’ he told Echonetdaily.

99 per cent of residents opposed

Pat Miller from the Tweed Water Alliance says the application by the The Mount Warning Beverage Company Pty Ltd for increased water mining operations thumbs its nose at the community.

‘Ninety-nine percent of Uki residents, in an even-handed, residence-to-residence survey, said they were opposed to water mining,’ he said.

‘The development application soon to be before council will put 32 huge water trucks a day along roads that were never built for them. The affects on residents will be huge. The water miners are selling off the reasons we live here – the environment and its ambience.’

Mr Miller says the hydrogeology study is completely inconclusive.

‘Running enormous, noisy trucks, taking water off country, feeding the plastic water bottle industry and pumping out huge quantities of water for private profit, creating little to no employment –  how can any of that be good for a community?

‘The Tweed Water Alliance calls on the Tweed Shire Council to halt this dead in its tracks and to work towards repairing the appalling litany of bad decisions that led to this resource and cash grab,’ says Miller.

Scott Sledge is urging council to formally object to the DA.

‘The Tweed Shire Council needs to hear from residents,’ he said. ‘We need to prevent further removal of our common water resources. If this continues we won’t have enough water and the dark actors may succeed in their desire to dam Byrrill Creek or other water courses.’

Trucks on community roads

Chris Cherry says the situation is that the transport route is through the middle of our communities.

‘All indications are they will not accept this type of increase in trucks. We have to ask how sustainable the water bottling industry is?

‘Surely, most people accept that pumping bore water that belongs to the whole community and putting it into plastic bottles that are used once then discarded is not the industry we want this area to be known for,’ she said.

Submissions need to be lodged by July 5.

*Ed – People please, plastic sucks. Just stop it.


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13 responses to “Whose water is it?”

  1. Jools says:

    DEADLINE 5 JULY FOR COUNCIL SUBMISSIONS!!

    Send council an email to say NO to Mt Warning Spring Water’s bid to extract even more of our precious groundwater for the plastic bottle water industry. Prevent a precedence being set and help save our precious environment.
    COUNCIL IS OBLIGED TO CONSIDER OUR EMAILS.
    Email: [email protected]
    and CC to Clr Reece Byrnes: [email protected]

    Sample letter:
    Dear Sir/Madam,

    I write to you regarding DA19/0346 from Mt Warning Spring Water (MWSW). With over 99% of Uki residents opposing water extraction/mining it’s abundantly clear that the community you represent are overwhelmingly against this greedy expansion.

    I’m concerned that even though MWSW was recently fined for breaching its license conditions, rather than show remorse they arrogantly submit a new DA to broaden their operations to match their breach amounting to more and more water extraction and more and bigger truck loads to operate from 4am-9pm seven days a week including public holidays.

    My concerns around water extraction/mining more generally include the additional surge in one-use plastics into the environment while at the same time more progressive and environmentally responsible nations like NZ and Canada are banning them.

    I am also concerned that there is no irrefutable, reliable data that guarantees water extraction from our regional aquifers does not cause significant environmental damage so therefore the precautionary principle should be applied, particularly in a nation so prone to droughts and amid climate change.

    As a rate payer I’m concerned about having to pay for road damage from larger water tanker trucks. As a resident I’m concerned that our quaint, peaceful villages are losing their charm due to large trucks rumbling through the centres and being a road safety hazard especially to children.

    I’m also concerned about water mining around Mt Warning and the surrounds as the region boasts a prestigious ‘world heritage-listed rainforest’ ranking attracting tourists and residents who come to appreciate our beautiful pristine environment.

    I’m concerned over the injustice that all the profits from water mining/extraction, which essentially belongs to all of us, just go to the private property owners.

    I’m also insulted and aggrieved over the blatant marketing hypocrisy of MWSW’s attempt to capitalise on the Byron Bay ‘natural’ image of pristine water and landscape while they cause extensive environmental harm to the aquifers due to more and more water extraction, as well as massively boosting environmentally harmful one-use plastics.

    To approve DA 19/0346 is utterly unconscionable, unethical and completely unacceptable.

    Yours sincerely,

  2. Re Sutherland says:

    I am opposed to allowing Mt warning water to increase the water truck loads .. this is greed .. and a pollution of plastic. I’m. A Kunghur resiyand this road is dangerous as it is .. often on many occasions l have nearly been ran off the road by these trucks .. your councillor are meant to be looking after our environment.. and our water ways .. pls do not allow this to occur.. for our children, and our environment

  3. rosie evans says:

    Please everyone-formally object by writing in to Tweed Shire Council. This practice is so backward in these times of uncertain water security, climate change and knowledge of how water extraction and plastics are damaging our Earth. We have lost our spring and our tributary that feeds into Tweed River is lower than we have ever seen for this time of year. We are feeling this impact of Water Extraction-there are plenty of studies to show water extraction affects base flow of groundwater systems, that is springs and rivers. Tweed Shire Council should be exercising precaution. This business takes from the local environment and profits only the landholder. It is sick.
    What is even sicker is that we have elected councillors that have a history of supporting these developments against the will of the community. Why? Please write and object.

  4. Emily Stewart says:

    Now just say it was coal, oil or gold that was under the earth and not water. You would have to pay a hefty TAX to the Federal Government for every ounce you mined. Yes ounce. How many ounces in a truckload of water. You would need another truck to take the Tax to the ATO.

  5. Wendy reid says:

    Dear tweed council
    In our country of droughts and floods why would our council allow water to be placed in
    Plastic bottles .., the aquifers are an asset to this world not to be Sold by a company individuals
    And remember council you will need Water for this new hospital plus a new rubbish dump for this hospital

  6. Jack says:

    Vote should turn out to be four against and 3 in favour (Allsop, Owen and Polg) so let’s hope it doesn’t happen.

    • Pam says:

      However, Councillor Reece Byrnes has long been in support of this company. He mistakenly believes whatever he is told by them – their company is a “social enterprise”; they contribute altruistically to charity; they employ indigenous workers. All overstatements – their website tells the more detailed story. The company is remarkably quiet on questions such as the high volumes of one-use plastic contributing to disastrous pollution levels in Australia, and that they are profiting from the sale of a community resource. Cr Byrnes mistakenly still thinks that Council’s responsibility lies only with truck movements. He is ignoring the Precautionary Principle, which mandates that Council’s cannot approve any development that has the potential to cause harm to the environment. Councillors must vote with the whole of the Shire in mind, not just their favourite bore water extractor. For this reason, Cr Byrnes’s vote to refuse this application cannot be relied upon. What a shame for a community already traumatised by the industrialisation of a rural area that he has been complicit in establishing.

  7. Fiona says:

    No one knows the connections the underground springs have, the hydrology experts included. When I was a farmer dependent on spring fed dams there was always the issue of bores (sometimes miles away) reducing the flow. This is rape of our earth, dangerous roads, loss of amenity and plastic pollution all rolled into one. Please please please write a submission before July 5th!!!

  8. Yvon Postic says:

    I am 81, living in Australia since 1997 and I understand the public’s concern about the subject that I now consider as essential namely the management of drinkingwater. Here are my thoughts:
    Clouds are formed from the evaporation of water vapour from the seas, lakes and rivers as well as from the earth. These clouds sail through the world and dump rain when they encounter condensation nuclei. Then the rain falls anytime and anywhere. So far, no one has appropriated it. This rain feeds the earth, trickles and ends up either in the basement or returns to the river lakes and eventually to the sea to redo its cycle. In form it does not yet belong to anyone.
    When it enters underground it feeds either the water table or forms underground streams or natural springs. These rivers form all over the world and take an indefinite direction. This water is still free (and hopefully unpolluted.).
    These water tables are a nature reserve. Operated by collective distribution organizations, it is normal for it to be billed for filtration and distribution. This water is managed on behalf of communities and remains a non-polluting life supply.
    On the other hand, if a landowner discovers a spring or a water table in his land, he appropriates it. In these circumstances he mistakenly considers that this water has self-generated and that it is intended for its own use and that it can enjoy it as it pleases. This is a serious mistake because by doing so, it can deprive its neighbours of this water which can also extend under their land or in case of underground streams, deprive the downstream communities through which this water can cross.
    Every time I use the Scénic drive, either to Tweed Heads or on my way back, I meet with 15 to 20 m3 trucks carrying sometimes at excessive speed, to Queensland a full load. The full tank of these trucks is in the vicinity of Bilambil. In the past I have read the actions taken by your municipality against this procedure, which I approve. It doesn’t seem you’ve won.
    Having not conducted my investigation further forward, I suppose this water is destined for bottling and for sale. If this is true, in my opinion we are faced with many inconsistencies with disastrous consequences
    1) The landowner negotiates water that belongs to the community, so there is robbery
    2) The buyer, who acquires this water cheaply, sells it at a prohibitive price after packaging
    3) During this packaging, by truck of 15,000 liters, 15,000 plastic bottles are used. How many of them will be recycled? That it is the amount of raw material needed to make them. If we stick to a daily round of 20 trucks we have 300,000 litres of precious liquid stolen from the community and 300,000 plastic bottles in the wild, polluting the land, rivers and the sea, the source of our lives. Since these rounds even take place on weekends, each week we could have 2,100,000 waste.
    I am not familiar with the Australian water management regulations but I know that in some countries it is strict and that even someone who is lucky enough to have a stream that runs through his property has to apply for capture before applying for to benefit. An investigation determines the impact of this capture on the environment and the community. This is normal because downstream residents may be deprived of this water.
    For more equity, this water must be integrated into the general management of this material, which is increasingly rare because it is indispensable to life and serve the community and not to private interests whose sole purpose is the carefree profit of pollution that this profit era.
    All over the world, these plastic bottles must be banned, just like plastic bags. The most important action is to make drinking all the water Earth avoiding being polluted by industries or by human action: there is a primary urgency to decontaminate it. Once the running water serving the community is made to drink, it will no longer be necessary to buy it in bottles. These, so harmful to the whole world, disappearing a great step will be taken to save humanity.
    Sincerely yours

  9. Ruth says:

    I love your work Yvon Postic. You have said it all in your response and I could not improve or add much to your wise reading of this situation.
    Except to add a personal touch from where I live just across the valley from Uki. There is a water main at the end of my driveway and tankers have been working throughout most days over the last 2 years, trucking drinking water to residents and farms in our area. This is because our water is such a valuable and scarce resource. We are already facing a water crisis and we need to recognise this. Our water resource should be kept IN the community and for our community. Not trucked out in plastic bottles which further pollute our world, causing untold damage to the environment.

  10. Val Walsh says:

    It’s contrary to public health because of a risk the ground water could be contaminated by pproperties with composting and a variety of different septic systems and the Council doesn’t have sewage pipes.

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