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Byron Shire
February 26, 2021

Draft Far North Coast Water Strategy a welcome change

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This issues of water and how and from where we access it, is becoming increasingly distressing for many on the Far North Coast – it is becoming one of the most contentious subjects between the community and all levels of governance.

The diverse water options featured in the newly released draft Far North Coast Water Strategy have been welcomed by local water conservation group WATER Northern Rivers Alliance, which was formed in the response to the proposed Dunoon Dam at The Channon, say they welcome the diverse water supply options featured in the Far North Coast Water Strategy released by the NSW Government on Friday.

Smart water options for the region

WATER Northern Rivers is an alliance of groups and citizens who want smart water options for the region and spokesperson Annie Kia said the group are pleased to see a list of diverse options, not all of which will be progressed.

‘We have been very concerned about the narrow focus of Rous County Council Future Water Strategy 2060, which has ignored many of the modern solutions available that, when combined in a mixed portfolio, help create a resilient and drought-proof water system.’

Ms Kia said the broad-options approach in the draft strategy is exactly in line with the recommendations of Water Services Association of Australia (WSAA) in their document All Options on the Table. ‘The WSAA recommends a suite of diverse options and strong water efficiency measures. In particular, they note that new dams, being rainfall-dependent, do not provide drought-resilience.

Water sources independent of rainfall

‘If new supply is needed, it’s advantageous if these sources are independent of rainfall, such as water re-use and desalination. Dr Stuart Khan recently echoed this when asked about the Rous Future Water Strategy, noting that a drought-resilient system would have 30-50% of its water coming from sources not dependent on rain.’

The group has also welcomed other initiatives within the strategy, supporting Aboriginal rights and a focus on improving the health of the Richmond and Tweed Rivers.

‘WATER Northern Rivers is ready to assist the development of this new vision of water supply in our region,’ said Ms Kia. ‘We look forward to the public consultation process empowering our community.’

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  1. “the narrow focus of Rous County Council Future Water Strategy 2060,”I think is based on the asumption that the simplest, cheapest and most rational option, in probably the most reliably wet corner of Australia, is a dam on the site that has been purchased for and dedicated to , decades ago. While the idea of a desalination plant on the main beach at Byron does possess a certain amount of merit, as does the mining of the Alstonville bore-water sources and the retro-fitting of a grey water reticulation system, these would all fall way beyond the capabilities of the consumers to pay for. Constant water restrictions and rationing may help but I think this would tend to be rather unpopular in the long run.
    Cheers, G”)

  2. Yes! Let’s hope Rous Water fully explores all the options and consults the community too! We want to secure water but not if it destroys rain forests. We need water supply that doesn’t just rely on rainfall anyway. Perth uses seawater desalination and purified recycled water for drinking.

  3. The old saying of when you “assume” you make an ass out of U and ME, would be applicable here, Ken. So maybe we are both asses, but when Rous and its consultants assumed that the technologies and knowledge of 2010 hadn’t moved on by 2018, they tried to do that to us. They completely ignored aquifer recharge, potable reuse, and storm water harvesting, and dusted off their old plans for last century’s expensive technology of a dam. Expensive because it will drown a rare rainforest, expensive because it will destroy Indigenous sites, expensive because it is not scalable, and expensive because dams don’t deliver true drought security. Get a drought and watch the dam level plummet. We need to heed the national experts. This new regional strategy gives us a chance to do so.

  4. Thank you to Water Northern Rivers Alliance – we don’t need a dam, especially where this one is planned; we need all of us to think about & use water more carefully.


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