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.
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.
‘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.
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.’