Widjabul Wia-bal traditional owners of the area between Dunoon and the Channon have told Rous County Council not to follow Rio Tinto with the destructive Dunoon Dam.
They have told the General Manager of Rous County Council, Phil Rudd, that they will not accept the building of the proposed dam, which would inundate ancient burial sites and extensive evidence of occupation in the past and in recent times.
John Roberts, a Senior Elder of the Widjabul Wia-bal said, ‘I was one of the stakeholders consulted in 2011 about the impact of the Dunoon Dam on cultural heritage.
‘In the 2011 Cultural Heritage Impact Assessment prepared for Rous, we stakeholders said with one voice that no level of disturbance was acceptable to us. We still say that. Nothing has changed. There is no need for another study. Our opinion has not changed.
‘Our cultural heritage is a direct connection to our ancestors. We have been here for thousands of years. These sites provide us with a link to our traditions, our land and our living heritage. They allow us to educate our young ones in their history.’
A unanimous decision of Elders and Widjabul Wia-bal people was given to the Rous County Council General Manager last Tuesday, December 8th.
The group insisted that Rous abandon plans for the Dunoon Dam.
‘So many of our cultural sites have been destroyed. To destroy more is unacceptable to the traditional owners,’ said Mr Roberts.
‘We are tired of being ‘consulted’ and then ignored. Enough is enough.’
The Widjabul Wia-bal collective insisted that Rous County Council no longer deals with individuals. They said in future Rous must consult with the whole stakeholder group.
Rous have agreed to provide all correspondence between Rous and the Widjabul Wia-bal representatives since the dam was first mooted in 1995.
Barry Roberts, John Roberts’ elder brother, suggested that Rous County Council’s plans for the Dunoon Dam are the same as the Rio Tinto’s actions at the Juukan Cave in Western Australia.
‘We believe that the Australian people will not allow this destruction of our heritage to go ahead,’ he said.
The Widjabul people acknowledged the importance of walking together with the WATER Northern Rivers Alliance to protect the land and develop alternative water options.
Rous pushing on
Rous County Council, meanwhile, have issued a statement saying they will table their plan to future-proof the region’s water supply at their next ordinary meeting, on 16 December 2020.
The statement said, ‘The combination of solutions set out by the Future Water Project 2060 include:
- Utilisation of the Marom Creek Water Treatment Plant for the increased use of groundwater from the Alstonville area.
- Further detailed investigations into the viability of the proposed Dunoon Dam.
- Ongoing water conservation and demand management.
- Pioneering investigations into water reuse.
‘Councillors will carefully consider the plan in light of the outcome of a 10-week public exhibition of the Future Water Project 2060. Council acknowledges the community’s concerns and aspirations and greatly appreciates the time invested by those who made a submission.’
Rous have asked people who wish to find out more about the Future Water Project 2060 to please visit www.rous.nsw.gov.au/futurewater.
Dunoon local Jill Hawthorn responded on social media by saying, ‘When the experts say we need back up options for dry times coming – and 30% of our water system should be not rain dependent. This means we need to look seriously at water reuse and solar powered desalination – can you hear your community Rous?
‘91% are not happy with the Dunoon dam option– please demote it as your “preferred” option.’
More stories about the Dunoon Dam
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.
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,...
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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.
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