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.
‘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.
Photos David Lowe
More stories about the Dunoon Dam
Ballina's Cr Eoin Johnston is calling for council to invite senior technical representatives of Rous County Council to provide a briefing to Ballina's councillors on the ramifications of using the Alstonville Aquifer as a major source of water supply to the region for the next forty years.
Yesterday's extraordinary meeting of Rous County Council included two more attempts to get the Dunoon Dam back on the table, both of which were defeated, 5 votes to 3.
Yesterday's meeting of the Rous County Council saw the rescission motion go down 5:3 after another passionate debate, but Cr Sharon Cadwallader said she remained determined to keep the Dunoon Dam as an option for the future water supply of the Northern Rivers.
Both WATER Northern Rivers and the Ballina Environment Society have expressed their opposition to the rescission motion proposed for Rous County Council in regards to the Dunoon Dam.
Widjabul Wia-bal traditional custodians are deeply concerned about a motion proposed for Rous County Council’s next meeting, which would overturn their decision to cease all work on the Dunoon Dam, rezone the land and begin the disposal of Rocky Creek properties.