15.4 C
Byron Shire
May 24, 2024

Saving the Alstonville aquifers

Latest News

Surfing on the spectrum – free fun for everyone at Lennox and Byron this Sunday

Ocean Heroes will be giving children who are on the autism spectrum the chance to experience what it is like to be in the ocean on a surfboard this Saturday at Lennox Head and Sunday in Byron Bay.

Other News

First Nations job seekers in Casino foot in the door to career

Trying to find something you might be interested in doing is always a challenge and local Casino barber Michael Day has come on board to help Aboriginal job seekers the chance to kick start a career in the hair and beauty industry.

Fed gov’t doubles funds for local road repairs

Local governments across the state are to share in $1.2 billion worth of commonwealth funding for local roads over the next five years.

Legal system fails to keep kids safe

Fifteen years ago, Karen Bell’s three children – Bon 18 months, Maddie 5, and Jack 7, were found with their dead father Gary Bell in a vehicle at Perico – a collapsed hippy colony on the NSW far south coast.

Embarking on adventure

The 2024 Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour comes to Brunswick Heads and the Picture House is calling all adventurers, thrill-seekers, and lovers of the great outdoors. With only two screenings scheduled for 23 and 24 May, tickets are selling fast.

Primary care nurses supported in community

Health services, particularly GP services, have been stretched over recent years and new funding to support nurses and build...

Shambolic roads

With regards to the Echo article, ‘Let’s dive deep into potholes’ (May 15), I am appalled at the attitude...

Tamara Smith Member for Ballina with Alstonville residents who were actively campaigning to stop water mining on the plateau. Photo supplied.

Aslan Shand

A plan to extract millions of litres of water from the two large aquifers below the Alstonville Plateau began the campaign to remove water mining from the Ballina Shire Council’s local environment plan (LEP). And at yesterdays council meeting it finally met with success.

‘I commend the Save Alstonville Aquifer group, run by a collective of farmers on the Alstonville Plateau, who organised an amazing campaign in response to a development plan to extract millions and millions of water from the plateau to sell to soft drink companies overseas. Their efforts with the broader community resulted in the development application (DA) being withdrawn,’ said local MP Tamara Smith told Echonetdaily.

According to Ballina Mayor David Wright the council received over 1,000 submissions relating to the removal of water extraction for commercial purposes such as bottling.

Mr Wright pointed out that ‘during the last drought farmers that have bores reported that they began to run dry. There are so many licences that have been granted that haven’t been checked on.’

During the meeting councillors ‘unanimously adopted changes to the Shire’s Local Environment Plan (LEP) to modify the definition of rural industry to exclude commercial water harvesting. This has led to what is effectively a ban on water mining across Ballina Shire,’ said councillor Keith Williams.

More action required

However, the Save Alstonville Aquifer group have pointed out that the security of the Alstonville aquifer still needs further actions to ensure it is secure into the future.

They say the bordering shires, like Lismore, also need to change their LEPs to ensure that water bottling operations can’t take place there.

‘Some [bordering shires] overlap the Alstonville Aquifer, hence a water bottling operation could still commence in Lismore Shire and contribute to losses from the aquifer,’ Bryan Douglas told Echonetdaily on behalf of the Save Alstonville Aquifer group.

Mr Douglas also highlighted the importance of the NSW Department of Planning, Water and Environment improving enforcement measures ‘as illegal extraction from the aquifer is occurring and large users are exceeding their limits.’

Not enough information

The report by the NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer on groundwater resources in the Northern Rivers recognised that there is a lack of understanding of the aquifers across the Northern Rivers region. This includes the hydrogeology around Alstonville and the impact of bore water extraction. It clearly acknowledged that the low level of monitoring meant that it was unable to determine what the impact of large scale extraction would be on the various aquifers in the region. None-the-less it said that commercial water extraction would not have a major impact.

‘It was very disappointing that the Parliamentary inquiry into water mining conducted by the NSW Chief Scientist did not determine any potential adverse impacts from large extractions of aquifer water on farmland,’ said Ms Smith.

‘Thankfully, Ballina Shire Council and Byron Shire Council have led the way in banning water mining and prohibiting it in local planning instruments. This is a model that should be adopted across every local government area in the state.

‘On a warming planet, with long droughts and long and intense bushfire seasons, the idea that you would allow farmers to extract precious ground water from food growing land to export overseas for a quick buck is insane. Add to that the fact that those aquifers are directly linked to water catchments for drinking in rural and regional communities – the lack of application of the precautionary principle is staggering.’

Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.


  1. Well done to all those people who have said enough is enough !

    I am still in shock at the result, awesome news…

  2. Brilliant work farmers and people of Alstonville. Australia is the driest continent. Thank you for keeping Australia alive by growing crops for us to eat and keeping our water stored.

    I think the Amazon water or Niagara falls water might be able to spare some of their water. But definitely NOT Australia.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Wardell landowners asked to support fire ant eradication

Nearly 900 Wardell properties require treatment for fire ants, but the eradication team needs permission from each landowner.

The Darling Muffs of May need your help to reach fundraising target

Raising money to support frontline services for women who are homeless or at risk of homelessness has been the driving force behind the Darling Muffs of May’s fundraising this year.

Why does Iron Gates developer get another bite at the DA?

Locals, concerned residents and other parties were left in the dark for the first 15 minutes of the Iron Gates (Goldcoral Pty Ltd) Land...

Death and Dying expo May 25

On Saturday May 25, a free Death and Dying expo will be held at the Mullumbimby Civic Hall from 10am-2pm.