If councillors in favour of the Dunoon Dam (DuD) are elected in December we will see several things happen.
Water resilience will collapse. The ‘10,000 signatures’, on which the pro-dam candidates base their political stance, demanded that all options be taken off the table, except for a second dam on a small creek: being completely dependent on increasingly erratic rainfall flowing through that small creek would intensify our climate risk.
Water shortages would be incurred soon because demand exceeds supply in three years, but the dam could not possibly be built until at least 2030.
Local jobs, which would have been boosted by diverse water options and long-term conservation measures (eg large-scale refitting), would be axed in favour of a short-term boost to a huge non-local company to build a dam.
Water rates would escalate rapidly to pay for a large one-off project. Government contributions are unlikely, leaving current ratepayers to foot the bill. The poorest people would be paying the most because water is non-discretionary, like food.
The Widjabul Wia-Bal people would be told, yet again, that their opinion does not matter. The burial sites, which have been compared by the Native Title Services Corp to the Juukan Cave in WA, would be lost. The living heritage of our own citizens would be discarded.
The Endangered Ecological Community of Lowland Rainforest, part of the remaining one per cent of the Big Scrub, would be severely reduced. In The Channon Gorge, the rare warm temperate rainforest on sandstone would be almost completely destroyed.
Opposition to the DuD, including direct action, would escalate, causing increased social division and unrest. When a large dubious project lacks social licence, the outcomes for local politicians pushing the project are never good.
There are plenty of alternatives to the DuD but the pro-dam candidates are going for the least efficient, most expensive, slowest, and most reckless option for water in the future.
We can have more water more cheaply and more quickly without needing a dam or groundwater; just by water efficiencies alone. But the pro-dam ideologues are not interested.
We have a problem here with local would-be politicians who want to capitalise on anxiety about water in order to score political points. They are not genuinely interested in water security. This is easily proved by their refusal to discuss anything other than one unrealistic and unsafe option.
There is a terrific opportunity here to pull together to solve our water problems. It may be lost owing to the political ambitions of a few cynical dog-whistlers.