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September 21, 2021

Criticism of Ballina Cr Cadwallader’s water election tactics

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Ballina Shire Councillor Sharon Cadwallader. Photo David Lowe.

The Ballina Environment Society (BES) has accused Ballina Councillor Sharon Cadwallader of politicising water security by using ‘the Dunoon Dam as one of her key concerns in her bid for mayor in September’s local government elections’.

‘She is politicising water security by using it as a political platform. Water security is a strategically important community asset, and a complex water policy should be developed objectively in a rational process, without a political agenda clouding the myriad needs of contemporary water management,’ said a spokesperson for BES.

Cr Cadwallader is also one of the Ballina Shire Council representatives on the Rous County Council (RCC) that supplies water to the Byron, Ballina, Richmond Valley and Lismore local government areas comes from the Rocky Creek Dam.

Channon Gorge, threatened by proposed Dunoon Dam. Photo David Lowe.

The RCC is made up of two nominees from each of the councils and they have rejected the Dunoon Dam proposal multiple times over the last seven months based on environmental and cultural heritage concerns, costs, flood risks, and water purity. At an extraordinary meeting on Wednesday (21 July) they voted five to three to adopt and confirm the Integrated Water Cycle Management Strategy (IWCM) as earlier resolved in March.

Where will the water come from?

‘The IWCM features four key areas of exploration: connection to the Marom Creek water treatment plant, currently owned by the Ballina Shire Council; groundwater from Tyagarah in the Byron Shire and Alstonville in the Ballina Shire; desalination; and water recycling,’ The Echo reported yesterday following the extraordinary meeting.

‘In her quest for political populism Councillor Cadwallader has selfishly adopted water security as her electoral platform, and is thus dividing the community. Surely our water security deserves a far more reasoned, thoughtful and integrated approach, not one which drives a wedge into objective community deliberations,’ said a spokesperson for BEC.

Misleading petition

‘Nor is a confusing and misleading petition helpful in achieving objective outcomes on optimum water security solutions for our community. BES is highly critical of this emotional and unscientific approach and accuses Councillor Cadwallader of sheer political opportunism and selfishness in her quest for popularity.

‘After all water management for our community derives its security by adopting diverse streams of alternative supply and Councillor Cadwallader’s ‘one source dam approach’ denies this scientifically proved position and prevents our community from attaining a “rain proof” outcome to our water needs. This ignorant approach blindly ignores climate change so that critical demand management water strategies and actions are retarded or ignored. This is a retrograde and regrettable situation,’ they told The Echo.

Senior Elder John Roberts and his niece Cindy Roberts. Photo supplied.

Ignores Widjabul Wia-bal heritage

Widjabul Wia-bal traditional owners of the area between Dunoon and the Channon told Rous County Council not to follow Rio Tinto with the destructive Dunoon Dam prior to the first vote on the Dunoon Dam in December 2020.

‘As well as turning an objective water management programme into a political football, Councillor Cadwallader’s petition selfishly ignores the heritage claims of the traditional [Widjabul Wia-bal] custodians of the land, entirely denies the environmental qualities of the area and excludes the farmers and householders who will lose their homes and livelihood

‘Councillor Cadwallader’s political campaign to drive water management to a single big dam solution should be seen simply as a dubious crusade to generate fear, prevent the legitimate diverse approaches to water security and to generate votes based on a highly questionable premise.’

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  1. Well said. Cr Cadwallad’s cheap grab for power needs to be seen for what it is. Populist, light on facts and misleading.

  2. Please don’t simply say that water will come from the Alstonville Aquifer – it is confusing. There are two Alstonville aquifers there. The more shallow one is the one that Plateau people use and of course would rightly be horrified if that were to be drainable by Rous Water. . The second one is a deeper larger aquifer that has no detectable connection to the other. This one has never been accessed by local people. This one is what Rous intends to use and all Rous Councillors know this.

    Otherwise, a very fair article.

  3. Yet, good to see she rusted-on to her folly and went down with the ship, even as her co-dammers jumped overboard and switched to support the stupendous-volume deep aquifers.

  4. Cr Cadwallad’s attitude is damn typical of the toxic mentality of the Nationals. Most of the community has CLEARLY voiced their opposition to Dunoon Dam, that SHOULD be enough, but obviously Ms Cadwallad has other political ‘achievements’ up her sleeve. The outrageous dam site proposed would see the unspeakable loss of Koalas & many other native species already struggling to survive. The local First Nations people have continuously stated their STRONG opposition to this foolish / expensive & unsustainable plan, yet some in Ballina Council still have their fingers in their conservative ears. Lismore Council has made the RIGHT decision to STOP THIS MAD ECOCIDE & AT THE SAME TIME RESPECT THE WISHES OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLE……250 years later is better than not at all 🙁

  5. So BES wants to attain a “rain proof” outcome – which means to use desalination of seawater.

    BES should outline the carbon footprint of this option, both to build the desalination plant(s) and associated infrastructure (pipelines, pumps, etc), and to operate the desalination plant and pumps for 100 years.

    As well, they should outline the carbon footprint of building and using the proposed dam for 100 years.

    If they care about minimising CO2 emissions, that is


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