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May 20, 2024

Rous County Cr Darlene Cook on the Dunoon Dam

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Rous County Councillors
(L-R) Cr Simon Richardson, Cr Vanessa Ekins, Phillip Rudd (General Manager), Cr Sandra Humphrys, Cr Keith Williams (Chair), Michael McKenzie (Future Water Project Manager), Cr Sharon Cadwallader (D/Chair), Cr Darlene Cook, Cr Robert Mustow. Photo supplied.

Echonetdaily has been contacting Rous County councillors for their arguments for and against the proposed Dunoon/Channon Dam project.

While Byron’s Rous Cr Simon Richardson is among those who have not yet revealed a position, Lismore representative Cr Darlene Cook  (second from right in above pic) was happy to share her views this week, as one of eight Rous Country councillors who have had more time to study the detail of the Rous Future Water Project 2060 than most.

Cr Cook said, ‘Dams by themselves are not the solution. I want to see increased funding for water tank rebates, water waste education, demand management programs, and continued partnerships with high water users in our region to find alternate sources of water for manufacturing and cleaning.

‘I also want Rous to increase lobbying of general purpose councils to encourage rollout of purple pipes plumbing in greenfield developments in the region and continued lobbying for the NSW government to permit trials of potable reuse in this state.’

More assessments needed?

Cr Cook noted that Rous County Council has so far only done initial geological, cultural and environmental assessments on the feasibility of the second recommendation, the Dunoon Dam, which Rous has suggested could supply the region with general use water through to 2115.

Rous County Council (RCC), in collaboration with Queensland University of Technology (QUT) have developed a flyover virtual 3D landscape model of our catchment to assist the community to visually understand our current and proposed water supply assets in relation to the Future Water Project 2060 proposal.

‘It is acknowledged that there are some problems identified in those assessments but nothing that indicates that the project absolutely cannot go ahead,’ she said.

‘At this stage I am leaning towards supporting Rous undertaking the full environmental and cultural assessments that will be required prior to any approvals being sought from the government.

‘This involves Rous spending millions of dollars in the next 5-10 years with the knowledge that any one of those assessments could raise an issue that is a complete project stopper.

‘Importantly we need to remember that approval for these assessments to be undertaken is not approval for the dam to be built,’ she emphasised.

‘The solution to future water security cannot just be the dam,’ said Cr Cook. ‘We must have a multi-pronged approach to water supply and use and a complete change of culture and attitudes towards water.’

New photos of threatened upper section of valley

With many people in the wider community still unaware of what the environmental areas to be inundated actually look like, Echonetdaily went downstream from the popular tourist spot of Whian Whian Falls on Rocky Creek this week (photo gallery below).

The area includes threatened species and pools said to have been used in pre-colonial times for birthing and ceremonies.

The Rous Future Water Project 2060 is currently on public display.

Public comments are welcome, and can be made until 9 September 2020 here.

Echonetdaily is seeking comment from the other Rous County Councillors who have not yet made their position clear.

You can see more of the country that would go underwater if the dam is built here and here.

Photos David Lowe

More stories about the Dunoon Dam

How to supply water to the increasing population?

It is predicted that the next 40 years will see the demand for water increase by 50 per cent in the local government areas that Rous County Council supply with water.

Channon Gorge

Is our drinking water supply threatened by Dunoon Dam?

Most people don’t know that the proposal for Dunoon Dam has never been part of Rous County Council’s 40-year, adopted, strategic plan to increase water supply, resilience and security, known as Future Water Plan 2060.


Will the Dunoon Dam go ahead?    

We have not heard much about the Dunoon Dam lately and many people are asking ‘What is happening with that dam?’


Mullum’s future water supply still uncertain 

What is the best way to secure a long-term, reliable water supply for Mullumbimby?


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  1. Due to previous financial mismanagement Rous clients have endured a minimum of five years of 15% annual water charge increases. So now millions more to be spent out of the pockets of current clients to meet the demands of future residents? That sure is fair and just and user pay.

    Out to 2120 without considering MINIMUM one meter sea level rise…. coastal development? salt intrusion negating Wilson river supply?

    Reverse osmosis membrane filtration: small scale plants at new developments paid for by developer or Ballina sewerage water alone is almost the volume required up to 2060. “LET THEM DRINK P!$$ & S4!T!” Reverse osmosis filters everything (e.g. bacteria, viruses, arsenic). The water is ‘cleaner’ than the potable supply currently provided by NTP


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