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Byron Shire
February 26, 2021

Contempt for water

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Lindy Smith, Tweed Heads

There is no end in sight to the ongoing drought and the situation for our rural communities is dire with vital water resources drying up.

The response of the three Liberal/National councillors last week, at the Tweed Council meeting, was the request for the NSW minister for water to suspend commercial extraction of groundwater for water bottling was predictable. They showed absolute contempt for the farmers, communities, environment, and our finite water resources was disturbing by voting against the motion. Their only concern was for individual profit making.

The councillor who led the charge to protect water mining business interests claimed that the public and other councillors were ignorant in regards to water mining impacts. He stated that the material water miners supplied was absolutely correct.

He then publicly promoted the unlawful activities of the water miners in letters to local papers, stating it was fine for them to expand their businesses outside their approval conditions.

There is significant evidence water miners have grossly over-extracted our groundwater and there have been no monitoring or compliance measures.

Groundwater systems are complex and there is little modelling, monitoring/data records. The science is not known on the connectivity to waterways, complexities of fractured rock aquifers and hydraulically connected downstream aquifers. Thus, it cannot be determined that there will be no short, long-term and cumulative impacts; as such the precautionary principle must be urgently applied.

Last Wednesday a report to Gold Coast Council recommended refusal of a water extraction application in the hinterland; the refusal was supported unanimously.

Third-party advice had concluded that the submitted hydrogeological report did not demonstrate that no depletion would occur to surrounding springs, waterfalls and stream flows.

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