10.8 C
Byron Shire
May 16, 2021

Rous County Council Chair Keith Williams responds

Latest News

Bluesfest announces October dates for 2021 festival

After two disappointing cancelations of their event, Bluesfest has announced that they will hold the 2021 festival over the...

Other News

‘Endless land releases’ not the solution for Byron’s housing crisis, says Labor mayor hopeful

Northern Rivers-based trade unionist and MBA student Asren Pugh has announced his candidature for Byron Shire Mayor in September’s local government elections on behalf of Country Labor. 

Global predicament

Dudley Leggett – Director of Sustainability Research Institute, Suffolk Park Phillip Frazer’s article, (Echo 6 January) is an excellent summary of...

How full is that glass?

Cr Alan Hunter, Byron Shire Council Council Staff recommend opposing the proposed changes in the Exempt Development provisions to be considered...

Secret footage from Manus detention centre to be screened in Lismore

A thirteen-minute award-winning documentary based on footage secretly filmed inside Australia’s former detention centre on Manus Island is to be screened in Lismore Thursday night.

Interview with Nick Sergi, producer of the Byron Music Festival

Nick Sergi, producer of the Byron Music Festival talks to The Echo.

Power outage in Byron Shire

Power supply company Essential Energy says that approximately 1,780 homes and businesses were without supply this morning.

Rous County Council Chair Keith Williams. Photo David Lowe.

Rous County Council Chair and Ballina Cr Keith Williams has written to Echonetdaily in response to yesterday’s story with Annie Kia and Nan Nicholson about the proposed Dunoon Dam.

His comments and illustrations are reproduced below in full.

‘Groundwater has been Rous County Council’s preferred future water strategy since 2014 and been the subject of detailed investigations over the past few years,’ said Cr Williams.

Rous map supplied by Rous CC Chair Keith Williams.

‘Relying on mining millions of litres of groundwater from the sand aquifers under our coastal wetlands at Tyagara and Newrybar, the report has found poor quality water, expensive treatment and distribution costs and the potential for major environmental impacts.

‘Accordingly the Future Water Strategy 2060 has recommended the abandonment of this strategy with the exception of the immediate progression of one small scheme near Alstonville.

‘A second dam on Rocky Creek is now being recommended for further investigation because it is the lowest cost option for our region’s future water supply, costing some $250 million less than the next cheapest option, groundwater, on a ‘whole of life’ basis ($650m – $900m).

‘Much of this cost saving is in energy. A dam located at the top of the catchment uses gravity rather than electricity for its distribution.

Rous map supplied by Rous CC Chair Keith Williams.

‘The Rous County Council reports identify 57Ha of native vegetation in the dam footprint, some of which is identified as Big Scrub Rainforest remnant. Whether these ecological communities are unique to the site or are able to be offset by other regeneration works in the immediate catchment needs further detailed investigation and assessment.

‘Rous has already restored more than 200Ha in the buffer around the existing Rocky Creek Dam.

‘Nan Nicholson has undoubted rainforest expertise and I’m sure would have much to contribute to this assessment. Any decision to proceed with a dam still requires substantial investigations that will take some years.

‘Rous County Council has a long history of involvement in Reconciliation, providing avenues for Indigenous participation and recognition of Indigenous heritage.

Rous map supplied by Rous CC Chair Keith Williams.

‘With the greatest respect to the non-indigenous community, we will continue our discussions with the relevant Indigenous parties in private. We will not be providing a running public commentary on those discussions.

‘Rous County Council is here for the long term and we are planning and working accordingly.

‘We cannot ignore the impact of climate change over coming decades. We know it’s getting hotter and drier, that droughts will become more severe and more prolonged.

‘As we saw last October when Rocky Creek Dam fell 10% in a month, demand for water increases significantly when it’s hot and dry.

Rous map supplied by Rous CC Chair Keith Williams.

‘Rous supplies water to more than 100,000 people in urban areas and this demand will keep growing.

‘At our current rate of more than 500 new dwellings a year, the water supply will have to provide for 150,000 people within the next few decades.

‘The Future Water Plan has factored in a 40% reduction in demand from new dwellings due to recycled water and more water tanks.

‘But pretending that the region will cope with both a more hostile climate and substantial population growth simply with water efficiency measures, in my view, does this community a gross disservice.’

The Rous Future Water Project 2060 is currently on public display, with a decision due before the end of 2020.

Public comments are welcome, and can be made until the evening of Wednesday 9 September here.


More stories about the Dunoon Dam

Dam doesn’t give a damn about koalas

The proposed Dunoon Dam is still a possibility, though it has been voted against twice by the members of Rous County Council. Now information has emerged which presents another reason to shut down the threat of the dam once and for all.


Rous Chair Keith Williams looks ahead

Since the Dunoon Dam was shelved, Rous County Council has put a new draft of the Future Water Project 2060 on public exhibition. They are currently seeking feedback from people living in the four constituent councils of Richmond Valley,...


Rous Chair talks underground water

Since the Dunoon Dam was shelved, Rous County Council has put a new draft of the Future Water Project 2060 on public exhibition. They are currently seeking feedback from people living in the four constituent councils of Richmond Valley, Byron, Ballina and Lismore.


Water Q&A with Austin Curtin from Our Future Northern Rivers

Since Rous County Council voted to abandon the Dunoon Dam as a potential solution to the future water needs of the Northern Rivers, a new group has emerged called Our Future Northern Rivers.


Call for deeper look at underground water

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.


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. I am struggling to understand why Keith Williams and Rous are choosing to ignore Prof Stuart White’s report. I think they are acting in good faith. But it’s they’ve been captured on a runaway train called Big Dam. The White report says there is a cheaper way to achieve supply-demand balance.
    I strongly encourage everyone to read this Brief Summary of it.
    And to take on board that Prof White is an expert on water efficiency. He and his team have worked with water authorities in California, Egypt, Oman and the Philippines, every mainland Oz state and territory, as well as Sydney Water, where they were able to able to add nearly 1 million people to their population without increased usage. I’m bewildered. Why would help Rous stop the Big Dam train? What would help them get off at a siding, and meet Prof White to seriously consider his proposal, especially since it is cheaper, creates jobs in retrofit, and reduces costs for business and industry?
    This is the Brief Summary. I’ll post the presentation slides below.


  2. I posted the Brief Summary of the White report ‘Rous Sustainable Water Program’ in a comment above, which I encourage everyone to read. Prof White is talking about an investment in systematic water efficiency. This involves an audit of every council long pipe, every facility (school, hospital, uni building, industry), and within these every faucet, appliance and policy. After this comes the retrofit by qualified tradespeople. Needless to say this kind of investment creates much needed jobs, supports small to medium enterprise, and reduces water costs for business and industry. This kind of investment was not analysed or costed by Rous. For this reason they don’t have a comparison for the dam.
    The link to Prof Stuart White’s slide presentation is here. I especially encourage people to look at the cost comparison between the eye-watering cost of the dam, and investment in water efficiency. Not only is the dam unnecessary, White says, it’s a financial risk: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1knun42rhXOPuOgImBz-VTunMQ3l-fiu7/view

  3. Hydrosphere’s map on page 113: “Figure 7: Potential Dunoon Dam catchment showing existing land use”… is false and grossly misleading to Councillors.

    The south-east basin, and mid-section along the creek and should all be GREEN (Riparian Rainforest). The blob of green in the north is the 158ha Big Scrub Flora Reserve, the other green bits should add up to more than 60ha, which is 40% of the size of the Big Scrub Flora Reserve. And, having a similar and possibly even higher World Heritage ecological value. (And much higher if you are a Koala, Platypus, Richmond Cod, or one of the other 43 endangered species.)

    Purified recycled water is the safe alternative to us each flushing our rainforest away. Forever.

  4. Yes, please tell me why Keith Williams you are not taking an experts report on this and why are you and Rous water trying to mislead the community with inaccurate mapping and non-disclosure of what this Mega-dam really will drown. Threatened species day yesterday- this area is a vital habitat for threatened species!

    Please read the above report prepared by a true expert who has worked on water systems globally. We have a real chance here to provide jobs, fix the broken system and provide future water without the colossal destruction of a dam.

  5. For far less money they could provide everyone with rainwater tanks galore but, of course, they can’t sell that water. Fixing the leaks doesn’t make them more money either.

  6. But , this dam was planned and decided on Forty years ago , the land has been purchased and has been held for decades, all the residents have been aware,so what is the fuss about? Any reversal of plans now would seem a little ad hoc and result in a lot of wasted effort and assets.
    I have difficulty seeing how “Platypus, Richmond Cod” would be adversely impacted, quite the reverse, and the millionaire neighbours will now have ‘water views’ that they have been anticipating for decades.
    This project would also provide easily accessible water for fire- fighting aircraft and recreational fishing, and guaranteed to revamp the tourism trade.
    I fail to see why, all of a sudden, this antagonism has been constructed. I guess some people just don’t give a Dam.
    Alternatively,The problem it seems is the increasing population. Stop importing them ! Covid 19 will take it’s toll so….
    I think we can comfortably predict a decrease in demand.
    Looks like Gaia’s got this in hand. Cheers, G”)


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Power outage in Byron Shire

Power supply company Essential Energy says that approximately 1,780 homes and businesses were without supply this morning.

Filming of Byron Baes begins with no indigenous consultation

Filming of the Netflix series Byron Baes has reportedly commenced without any effort made by the show's production company – Eureka Productions – to consult with local indigenous groups or the local Council.

Byron Comedy Festival launched with a laugh

At a hilarious sold-out launch of the Byron Comedy Festival, Dr Karl Kruszelnicki had the entire Byron Bay Surf Club giggling last night

School Strike for Climate next Friday

Next Friday from 10am Byron Shire students will be demanding political action on the climate emergency in what they and their supporters say is our present, future and reality.