Ballina Shire Councillor and Chair of Rous County Council, Keith Williams, says that the decision by Ballina Shire Council not to sell the Marom Creek Water Treatment Plant to Rous County Council (RCC) will cost Ballina ratepayers more than $600 per household and an additional $200 per household across the region.
Cr Williams has criticised a decision saying that it is ‘100 per cent petty politics’.
Ballina Council considered the proposed transfer of the Marom Creek Water Treatment Plant to Rous County Council at its last Council meeting. The elected Council rejected the recommendation from staff at both Ballina Council and RCC to support the transfer.
Cr Williams said RCC had offered to pay Ballina for the written down value of the plant estimated at $5.5 million, and the transfer would save Ballina a further $3.5 million in a planned upgrade of the plant that aims to improve water quality but produces no additional water.
‘Rous plans a much larger upgrade to the plant, to cease use of existing bores in the Alstonville aquifer and to connect the plant to replacement groundwater bores that were some 200m deeper and in the sandy Clarence-Moreton Basin that sits underneath the Alstonville Plateau,’ said Cr Williams.
Cr Williams said RCC would proceed with its agreed contingency plans, which require the purchase of land on the private market suitable to house a new treatment plant connected to the proposed bores.
‘This will cost substantially more than the Marom Creek proposal and that additional cost will have to be born by Rous customers across the region.,’ he explained.
‘An additional cost of $10 million across the 50,000 households in the RCC network is a $200 slap in the face to every town water customer in the region.
‘The proposed use of the Marom Creek site connected to much deeper bores was the most cost effective outcome after more than seven years testing and research that followed the adoption of Groundwater as the preferred option in the Future Water Strategy in 2014. All of these additional water supply projects have long lead times.
‘The irresponsible actions of the Ballina Councillors trying to promote an atmosphere of chaos are focussed solely on the next local government elections due in December. Some even claim that they are trying to save the Alstonville aquifer, when they are doing the exact opposite.
‘There are existing public water supply bores in the shallow Alstonville aquifers. They need to be removed. Deeper bores are also extra insurance against climate change, being much less effected by seasonal rainfall patterns.
‘The RCC plan is the most cost effective option for households in Ballina and across the region to supply the additional water needed to deal with population growth over the next decade.
‘Voters need to be aware that these Councillors are playing politics with your wallet, not theirs,’ said Cr Williams.