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Byron Shire
November 28, 2021

CSIRO to look at Northern Rivers water security

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COVID update: a new Byron case, Aquarius and Community Support Accommodation

The Northern NSW Local Health District says there was one new case of COVID-19 was reported for NNSWLHD to 8pm, November 25. This case is located in the Byron Local Government Area, a traveller from outside the region and e is not associated with the Aquarius Backpackers.

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Githabul Country, Border Ranges National Park, headwaters of the Richmond River. Photo K Pratt

Water, it is the lifeblood of any community and ensuring that it is clean, drinkable and supports not only the local agriculture and ecosystems but also the local human and non-human populations is essential.

Global heating due to human activity is predicted to see a disastrous 2.7 degrees rise in global temperatures by 2100 if we continue on the current track. Governments and their representatives from around the world are currently in Glasgow for the UN Climate Change Conference (COP) 26 attempting to seek joint agreements of how to change this and bring global heating down to a possibly manageable level of 1.5 degrees, but it is just as important what is being done in our local region.

Regional water security

The Far North Coast Regional Water Strategy is a key part of how the Northern Rivers will manage to ensure it is can support its human and non-human activities in the future. The CSIRO is now engaging with the Rous County Council (RCC) who supply water to Richmond Valley Council, Lismore Council, Byron Shire Council, to help improve the scientific basis of the Far North Coast Regional Water Strategy.

Rous County Council Chair Keith Williams. Photo David Lowe.

The news that the study will encompass river health, flood mitigation and water security should be welcomed by all, said Chair of Rous County Council, Councillor Keith Williams.

‘Since my first election as a Councillor and while I have been Chair of Rous, I have been campaigning for greater state government resourcing to address the critically poor health of the Richmond River.

‘Through the Northern Rivers Watershed Initiative, Rous County Council, all six local councils and the Northern Rivers Joint Organisation have been calling on the State Government to consider the multiple benefits of restoring and regenerating natural vegetation in the upper catchment as way of addressing both flooding and river health in a holistic way.’

Ballina Shire Councillor Sharon Cadwallader. Photo David Lowe.

Why did they refuse ut support earlier?

Commenting on the announcement Ballina Councillor Sharon Cadwallader told The Echo that Cr Williams had previously voted against her motion at the Ballina Shire Council in August and September to proceed with what was essentially the same study.

‘I had put a Notice of Motion (NOM) at the two council meetings and he voted against it at the council meeting and now he “welcomes it” so did Jeff Johnson. What are they trying to hide?’

Rocky Creek Dam treatment plant. Photo supplied.
Reducing water use will reduce energy used at the Rocky Creek Dam treatment plant. Photo supplied.

Supporting RCC

Responding to the accusation Cr Williams agreed that it was a very similar project. However, he said that Cr Cadwallader was ‘trying to undermine Rous County Council’ with her motions and that the reason the majority of Ballina Councillors voted against it was because they ‘did not want to undermine RCC and effective local decision making.’

‘They are fundamentally wrong if they think the CSIRO contribution will resolve the indigenous issue at the Dunoon Dam. The cultural heritage issues aren’t going to go away just because we do a study on water. The only way it will be resolved is in court or by negotiation. It is fundamentally a racist campaign to suggest that we can just do a scientific study and not acknowledge and negotiate with the custodians. This is not their history it is our history.

‘The NSW State Water Strategy released a few weeks ago recognises that climate change is a major threat to existing water supply systems and prioritises the development of less rainfall dependent sources of water, such as recycling, deepening groundwater bores, desalination, the trialling of new technologies and an adaptive management approach to planning. These are all elements of the Future Water Plan adopted by Rous.

‘While the study will also review water security options this poses no conflict with the recently adopted Rous Future Water Plan. This research is absolutely no threat or concern to myself or RCC and will hopefully help the process.’

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  1. With respect, if Ballina wants population growth and needs to source water for that, they should look closer to home than the Rocky creek catchment which already supports a dam. Cleaning up the Richmond catchment sounds great. Continuing with innovative thinking like Ballina and Byron’s purple pipes to tackle water issues is great.
    Enough is enough when it comes to destruction of cultural heritage. Show respect for Widjabul Wia-bal community. Now is the time to stand up for the last 1% of the Big Scrub that features Gondwana rainforest species from 90 Million years ago. Please help to keep safe the strong genetics of The Channon koalas to support the health of other koalas in the region. So many reasons to not build a second dam at Dunoon. Let’s lead the way with resilient water solutions. Protect our regions Eco brand.


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