Are Tweed residents destined to drink salt water?

A hinged barrier will be added to the Bray Park Weir to block salt water from entering the Tweed water supply.

Aslan Shand

People often ask why should they be concerned about climate change? Well it turns out that Tweed Shire residents should be concerned because one of the impacts is on their drinking water.

As sea levels rise they inevitably move inland and this has the potential to affect the salinity (saltiness) of water. That is, water that was previously reliably a source of fresh water starts to become saltier and therefore there is less fresh water available to drink.

Currently the Bray Park Weir, and the Tweed District water supply, is only impacted by salt water entering the weir by high tide anomaly events. However, as sea levels rise, due to the impact of climate change, this is going to become an increasing problem.

‘This is going to be more and more of a problem as sea level rise,’ Tweed Council Deputy Mayor, Chris Cherry, told Echonetdaily.

‘We have farmers who depend on the land around the weir so it would create a lot of issues to permanently flood that land by raising the level of the weir permanently. So at the last council meeting  we voted to put a hinged barrier across [the weir], which moves into place to block anomaly events contaminating the freshwater source but allows natural flows of the river at other times.’

This solution was the result of a 12 month consultation with a consultant and a stakeholder group from the community. The outcome was the resolution that was brought to Tweed Council.

‘These groups contained a lot of expertise,’ said Ms Cherry.

‘Thankfully a majority of Councillors then supported the recommendation and we can move forward on the concept design to best protect our water supply in the face of climate change impacts.’

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