The recommendations from a report about the Water Sharing Plan for the Tweed River area were voted on at the Tweed Council meeting last Thursday – the subject of the Byrrill Creek Dam was a focal point.
A summary of the report said that the Tweed River Area Unregulated and Alluvial Water Sharing Plan (WSP) prescribes how water in the Tweed is managed, firstly to provide for the environment and also to support social and economic outcomes.
The WSP is due to expire in July 2021.
Prior to that date, the Minister will decide whether there is a need to make a new plan or whether to extend an existing plan. The Natural Resources Commission is undertaking a review, including submissions from the public, of the existing Water Sharing Plan (WSP) to inform the Minister prior to his decision. Submissions are due by 5 July 2020.
Council has prepared a submission addressing seven issues:
• Use of water released from Clarrie Hall Dam
• Climate variability
• Share components of water utility access licences
• Environmental flows in periods of low flows (Clarrie Hall Dam)
• Environmental flows in periods of low flows (Bray Park Weir)
• Byrrill Creek Dam
• Bray Park Weir
Council may make a submission on all of these issues, some or none of the above.
Ensuring the impacts of climate change are considered
Deputy Mayor Chris Cherry said it was important that Council put in a submission to ensure the impacts of climate change are considered in the water Sharing Plan for the region, particularly in terms of commercial water extraction for bottling. ‘I think there should be cease to pump capabilities within the plan specifically for water extractors who are commercially extracting for bottling. This is not a necessary use. Irrigation for farming is and we need to make a distinction between these two.’
Cr Cherry said that currently the water sharing plan prohibits the building of a second dam in the Tweed River catchment at Byrrill Creek. ‘This prohibition was the result of a lot of consultants’ studies identifying that the proposed dam would not provide the optimal outcome for an increase in water supply for the Tweed and the public outcry against damming this incredibly sensitive area.
‘Staff offered the possibility that Councillors should again consider if the prohibition against Byrrill Creek dam should be removed in the Review of the Water Sharing Plan.’
Cr Cherry said that considering the raising of the Clarrie Hall Dam is currently underway, and it will triple the current water supply for the Tweed, and through modelling has been shown it will be able to provide a secure supply for the Tweed community for the next 20-30 years, it was felt strongly by the majority of Councillors that they should reaffirm our opposition to a consideration of Byrrill Creek Dam at this stage. ‘There is a feeling within the community that there is a government push for dam building at the moment, regardless of the studies showing our current strategies are on track to provide the demand we require.
‘I would hate to see a top-down interference by government forcing something like this on our community.’
The report’s recommendations were that Council:
1. Makes a submission to the NSW Natural Resources Commission in the Commission’s review of the Water Sharing Plan for the Tweed River Area Unregulated and Alluvial Water Sources.
2. Decides on a position in respect to Clause 48(1). Byrrill Creek Dam of the Water Sharing Plan.
3. Finalises the draft submission reflecting Council’s position and submit the submission by 5 July 2020.
Councillors Katie Milne, Chris Cherry, Pryce Allsop, Reece Byrnes, Ron Cooper and Warren Polglas voted for the recommendations.
Cr James Owen voted against.