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Byron Shire
June 18, 2021

Aquifers and marine parks

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Beth Trevan – Coordinator, Our Future Northern Rivers

Rous County Council Chair Keith Williams recently espoused the benefits of using water from aquifers, desalination or recycled water for our permanent water supply into the future.

Let’s look at the environmental impact of these three alternative options.

Aquifers: The water table of the Tyagarah aquifers,in some places, is just two metres under the surface, and the entire area is a fragile groundwater dependent ecosystem; especially in drought periods as seen in 2019 when the water table was significantly reduced. 

Within the next 12 months Rous will commence concept plans for up to 12 bores to draw water from the Tyagarah aquifer borefield into the future. This includes the area near the coastal sands aquifers that sit below the pristine marine life hatching grounds and mangroves of Simpsons Creek in the environmentally sensitive nature reserve.

Removal of any quantity of water for a permanent water supply could seriously affect the Tyagarah Nature Reserve and the koala corridors and food trees in the area, as well as the zone in and around Gondwana and the airport, which was once considered a breeding area.

Desalination: The proposed Byron Bay desalination plant in the Byron Arts & Industry Estate is designed to have its inlet and waste outlet pipes leading into the Byron Marine Park. Is that really what Byron wants? Additionally, desalination requires 2.5 times the energy of the already energy-intensive aquifer water production. How much will that power cost the water users?

And many of those opposing the Dunoon Dam have proposed that the notoriously power-hungry desalination plant is run on renewable energy. Presumably that puts a large-scale solar farm on some of the most expensive land in Australia, and/or a windfarm near the beach on the edge of a nature reserve.  

Recycled water: The Rous recommendation, 12.6 on page 75 of the IWMC document, clearly states that owing to implementation and operation costs, water yield and community acceptance, Indirect Potable Recycled water is not currently considered a viable solution for securing the region’s long-term water supply.  

Direct Potable Recycled water is not approved for human consumption by State or Federal Health Departments anywhere in Australia. So, the evidence clearly shows that none of the three options proposed in the Revised IWCM document are practical, effective, real world solutions for our region.

For those who would like to see the visual impact, here’s a short video of the affected Byron area https://fb.watch/5kWzqvoZ6U/

Now is the time to save the local Byron Shire environment and make your voice heard! A submission can be made directly to Rous before May 28. Alternatively, there is an email petition on our website ourfuturenorthernrivers.com   

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  1. Beth Trevan you must have got your number mixed up when you were reading the IWCM and Cr Williams groundwater information. I recently attended a Rous Water Community Information day which cleared up a lot of misinformation that ‘Our Future Northern Rivers’ has been spreading. Relating to Tyagarah: firstly, there are only four proposed bores at the site, not two. Secondly: Rous has made it very clear publicly that they will only be able to extract groundwater (from outside of the Tyagarah Nature Reserve) IF they can demonstrate that extraction has ZERO impact on the nature reserve.

    Waste brine from desalination would be let out many kilometres off shore, and the following research by MIT demonstrates the potential to turn brine waste from the desalination process into chemicals used during the desalination process :


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