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February 6, 2023

WATER Northern Rivers calls for transparency from Rous County Council

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WATER Northern Rivers Annie Kia (R) with Nan Nicholson. Photo David Lowe.

WATER Northern Rivers is calling on Rous County Council to immediately release the full results of community consultation regarding Future Water 2060, following the discovery that Rous has lobbied behind the scenes to get the Dunoon Dam on the NSW Government agenda.

They say this happened before the consultation process had finished.

‘Buried in the draft Far North Coast Future Water Strategy, we see that Rous County Council and Lismore City Council had written to the Minister for Water to get the Dunoon Dam on the state government agenda,’ said Simon Clough.

Mr Clough is a former Lismore and Rous County Councillor, now a spokesperson for WATER Northern Rivers.

WATER Northern Rivers spokesperson Simon Clough. Photo Tree Faerie.

‘The release of the draft regional strategy now reveals that Rous was directly lobbying the minister for a dam at the same time as asking the community for feedback.

‘We are also aware that Rous staff have been actively promoting the Dunoon dam to member councils Lismore, Ballina, Richmond Valley, and Byron Bay.

‘The community does not like to be involved with consultation processes that don’t appear to be genuine,’ he said.

Narrow focus?

‘The Draft Far North Coast Regional Water Strategy makes it very clear that sections of Rous have continued to push the out-dated, destructive and highly contentious Dunoon dam proposal to the Minister for Water,’ said Annie Kia, spokesperson for WATER Northern Rivers.

‘It’s disappointing that Rous has had a very narrow focus on the dam, while other experts call for an all options on the table approach.

Area to be impacted by Dunoon Dam. Photo David Lowe.

‘There is widespread opposition to the Dunoon dam because it would obliterate rare rainforest and Aboriginal heritage, and we now know that there are better ways to achieve a resilient water system.

‘In July Rous County Council called for public submissions on its Future Water 2060. Submissions closed on 9th September.

‘Two months is more than enough time for a consultant to report on the results,’ said Ms Kia.

WATER Northern Rivers has called for the immediate release of the community consultation report.

In the interests of transparency, they say this must be made public well in advance of Rous Council’s meeting of 18th November.

Ms Kia said it’s essential that councillors, the community, the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment, and the minister, are fully informed.

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  1. The community has a right to see the results of the submission process. The chair of Rous, Keith Williams said in an interview that 95% of the submissions were against the dam. This was obviously known by Rous, and probably Lismore CC, but in the Draft Far North Coast Regional Water Strategy, released a few days ago, Lismore CC and Rous CC recommended that the Dunoon Dam be be added to the State Government agenda in letters to Minister Pavey. It is hard to believe this level of disregard for their community. Contrast it with the comments from Tweed SC that the Byrrill Creek Dam “could be highly contentious due to the potential impacts on environmental and cultural assets”. That would sum up the situation regarding the Dunoon Dam too! You couldn’t design a better way to enrage the community if you tried.

  2. It is essential that our water supplier Rous is fully transparent in its exploration of our options for water security into the future. It is unacceptable to me that this option of a huge dam at Dunoon/The Channon be pursued when so many are opposed to it based on the destruction of rare rainforest and widjabal sacred sites let alone the fact that there are other options that provide far more resilience into the future such as water efficiency measures and mass roof water harvesting.

  3. The dam proposal by Rous Water is an old fashioned response to shortage – just extract more from the environment and to hell with cultural and ecosystem impacts.Only when we have maximised efficiency should we contemplate a new dam.
    The modern sustainable way is to maximise the efficiency of the existing extraction for Rocky Creek Dam and this can be done with better water management for Rocky creek dam water.
    Many reports for our region and many others show that massive savings of water can be effectively achieved with support and education programs, stepped water pricing above a reasonable use level to reduce wasteful use (Rous manager said the cost of water from the proposed dam may be four times higher!), waste and leakage minimised (it represents more than 10% of water put into the system!) And of course, my favourite, water tanks. Rainwater tanks supplying all the house systems with a switch over to Rous water only when the tanks get low. The tanks aren;t kept for a dry spell – they wouldn;t last a couple of weeks – but they do significantly reduce the demand on the existing dam, and they respond to small showers of rain very quickly. A dam in dry times needs a major rain event to start to refill – meanwhile your tank is overflowing on showers.


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