In a month’s time Rous County Council (RCC) will be deciding if they are going to pursue the proposed Dunoon Dam project.
Local group WATER Northern Rivers have formed in response to the proposed dam and are asking RCC and everyone in the region to look at ways of securing the future of water in the region that doesn’t include a dam.
On Monday a flash mob appeared outside the office of RCC in Lismore to present a petition of 525 signature petition signed by residents of the Northern Rivers asking them to ‘stop the Dunoon Dam and rethink water options’.
The petitioners oppose the proposed dam because: it will destroy Aboriginal cultural heritage, it will destroy an Endangered Ecological Community of Lowland Rainforest, it will destroy habitat for 17 threatened fauna species, including the koala, Rous Water admits the dam will cause a 400 per cent increase in the cost of water, it is financially risky and irresponsible, given there are viable, cheaper, less destructive alternatives.
The petitioners support water security by: system-wide water efficiency and water, which was not analysed or costed by Rous; water reuse including purified potable water, which was not analysed or costed; water harvesting such as stormwater capture, and rain water tanks; implementing contingency planning to ensure rapid responses to drought.
WATER Northern Rivers asked the Chair, Cr Keith Williams to present the petition on their behalf.
‘He may not agree with everything outlined in the petition but we are asking him to present it in the spirit of democracy,’ said spokesperson Bianca Urbina.
‘Today marks the beginning of a call to action for our region. In exactly one month Rous will decide whether or not to go ahead with the proposed Dunoon Dam,’ said Ms Urbina as the flash mob performed outside the Lismore Office of RCC.
Over 1,000 responses
Talking to Echonetdaily Chair of RCC Keith Williams said that, ‘the petition will be presented to the December meeting of Council. It will be incorporated in the business paper. And I will make note to the councillors that there is a petition to council but it will also be formally part of the agenda.
‘We don’t have a procedure for petitions as it is not something we’ve really had before. That’s why it will be incorporated into the report that comes to the council so that it formally incorporated.’
According to Cr Williams there were roughly 900 written submissions and 350 online surveys completed.
‘Ninty-eight per cent of the written submissions expressed concerns about the dam and want us to be looking at demand management, recycled water, and rain water tanks. About 75 per cent of the surveys did not support dam option. The reasons were largely concerns about environmental and indigenous cultural impacts.
‘The 25 per cent in support were primarily where people identified the increasing demand that population growth is continuing exert and that as that increases we need the water to meet needs for population in the future.
‘What I was disappointed about the lack of discussion of climate change and that impact of that on our region in terms of the environment and water supply, drought etc.’
Lip service to community feedback?
‘It comes on top of a shocking revelation that the Rous County Council and Lismore City Council have already lobbied Melinda Pavey, Minister for Water for funding.
‘Let’s be clear about this, it’s not just funding for infrastructure or future water supply in our region. They have specifically requested funding for the dam, disregarding the community consultation process or the fact that it was shelved in 2013 due to the ecological and Aboriginal significance of the site.’
To find out more about actions taking place by Water Northern Rivers you can join their mailing list on the website.