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Byron Shire
May 6, 2021

Alstonville aquifer ‘saved’ from water extraction

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The Save Alstonville Aquifer with Tamara Smith MP have been fighting against industrial water extraction. Photo supplied.

As water continues become the most precious commodity, a community group called Save Alstonville Aquifer have received news that the proposed development for bottled water extraction from the Alstonville Aquifer has been withdrawn.

Late Monday afternoon, spokesperson for Save Alstonville Aquifer, Mike Hogan, was advised by a Melbourne journalist that the application for industrial extraction of water was withdrawn.

On Tuesday the group were able to confirm that news with a Ballina Shire Council Planner.

Mr Hogan said the group wanted to thank the community in their unwavering support with opposition to the proposed development. ‘The concern we had with the extraction of water from the Aquifer, is that it would likely have a serious impact on people and ecosystems in the Alstonville area,’ he said.

‘There would be zero socio-economic benefits for local residents, Council and State Government under the current system if the application was to go ahead.

A huge win for farmers

Tamara Smith MP says this is a huge win for the farmers of the Alstonville plateau. ‘The developers have formally withdrawn their development application to mine water from a property in Ellis road,’ she said. ‘Michael Hogan and a group of concerned farmers have been fighting for this for several years, and their tireless efforts have finally come to fruition.

Ms Smith has stood with the farmers over the years in opposition to this proposal and was delighted to be notified of its withdrawal yesterday.

‘This is a huge win for the farmers and our region. I commend the efforts of Michael Hogan and the members of the Save the Alstonville Aquifer group who have fought long and hard to protect this precious resource,’ said Ms Smith.

The application proposed to increase water extraction from a site in Ellis road, with the surplus water not being used for onsite irrigation to be sold to a third party for retail sale.

‘Exporting our good food growing and drinking water overseas is something I have vehemently opposed. I trust this matter will now be put to rest.

No social or environmental license

‘There is no social license or environmental license to use aquifer water on food growing land for industrial extraction,’ she said.

‘We will continue to follow this to the end and will hopefully be able to meet with the Minister for Water Hon Mel Pavey, after the Chief Scientist’s Final report is released next week,’ said Mike Hogan.

Save Alstonville Aquifer will now focus attention on the Ballina Shire’s proposed change to the Local Environment Plan as well as the motion put forward at the Local Government Conference by Rous Water Director Councillor Sharon Cadwallader.

‘We can now guarantee the water from the Alstonville Aquifer will stay here to be used for stock and domestic, agriculture and horticulture,’ said Mr Hogan after the news broke. ‘It is a win for the local community.’

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  1. Hearty congratulations to the people of Alstonville on this important win.
    Sadly the waterminers here in Tweed shire are continuing to extract huge amounts of groundwater and trucking it to Queensland for bottling in plastic. Yet the objections that the Alstonville farmers raised in opposition to the waterminer proposal down there are identical to the objections the community here in Tweed have raised.
    Seems the big difference between Alstonville being protected and Tweed being sold out is that the Greens Tamara Smith is their State representative. While we’re totally unrepresented by the Nationals Provest in Tweed and Labor’s Saffin in Lismore!

  2. I looked up all the Australian spring water companies and those that extract megalitres of water from the rainforests are extracting thousands of litres of water a day are in the same rainforests in areas that have unusually dry subsoils in rainforests and unheard of bushfires in rainforests.
    I think it’s strange that all the researchers and media reports haven’t made a link with water mining licences and increased bushfire risk.

  3. This is great news!!! Congratulations to all involved and the hundreds of people who took the time to write a submission to Council. A great win for our local area. Hopefully the State government will follow up on the grey area that exists between existing under utilised licenses and their transfer to other entities. Hopefully our local State Government reps are all working together on closing what appears to be a loop hole in the current legislative framework.


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