Independent Ballina Shire Councillor Sharon Cadwallader has failed to gain majority council support for an independent water research team in the region.
Cr Cadwallader said earlier this year she’d be running for mayor in the next local government elections and that water security, particularly the dumped Dunoon Dam proposal, would be one of her key campaign issues.
The independent councillor was also deputy chair of the Rous County Council, which is responsible for water services to much of the Northern Rivers including most people in the Ballina, Byron, Richmond Valley and Lismore local government areas.
Most town water comes from the Rocky Creek Dam but the Rous County Council said last year demand was expected to outstrip supply by 2024.
Rous County Council deputy chair sceptical of groundwater feasability
Cr Cadwallader expressed disgust when the Rous County Council voted against reconsidering a new dam in Dunoon, saying the decision showed democracy was dead given a petition of more than 10,000 signatures in support of the proposal.
More recently, the independent councillor tried to convince her fellow Ballina Shire councillors of the need for a new independent scientific research organisation.
The team would ‘examine all aspects relating to water’ in the Richmond/Wilsons River catchment area including security, quality, flood mitigation and river health –areas the Rous County Council was already responsible for overseeing.
But Cr Cadwallader was clearly dissatisfied with the Rous County Council’s approach to future water security.
‘Rous County Council has now proceeded with the adopted option of groundwater in order to meet the 2024 deadline,’ Cr Cadwallader wrote in her notice of motion in late August.
‘Alstonville residents are being notified of the impending water quality testing from the Clarence Moreton Basin,’ she wrote, adding that ‘no data exists as to the quality or volume of water in that basin it remains an unknown’.
Cr Cadwallader said earlier tests indicated poor quality water in the basin.
‘No approvals for added permanent extraction from the Alstonville aquifers have been submitted to the regulator as water extraction is still in the testing phase,’ she said.
Cr Cadwallader said she wanted the new team to investigate ‘potential economic development opportunities and other benefits that would flow’ from their research.
Cr Eoin Johnston was the only Ballina Shire councillor to support the proposal, which suggested writing to state parliamentarians ‘highlighting the need’ for the new science team.
Cr Nathan Willis was absent.