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October 8, 2022

A warning to new Rous councillors

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Hugh Nicholson says the newly appointed members of Rous County Council will be on a steep learning curve. Photo Tree Faerie.

The community group WATER Northern Rivers Alliance has warned the incoming Rous councillors* to evaluate the facts, as the previous councillors did, rather than rely solely on public opinion gathered in a push-poll: ‘Do you want to drink poo water or do you want a new dam?’

Hugh Nicholson of WATER Northern Rivers says when the newly appointed members of Rous County Council first meet on February 16, they will be on a steep learning curve.

‘The vote in December 2020 by Rous councillors to move ahead with a variety of water sources, without the Dunoon Dam, came after the councillors were alerted to information which had been withheld by Rous CC management,’ he said.

The Cultural Heritage Impact Assessment 2013 is available to be downloaded in a redacted form, on the Rous website.

Cultural Heritage Impact Assessment

Mr Nicholson says that evidence from eminent archaeologist, Dr Douglas Hobbs, in the Cultural Heritage Impact Assessment 2013, had not been shown to the councillors. ‘When they became aware of the national significance of the area to be destroyed by the proposed Dunoon Dam, it was a vote changer.’

In a comment to pro-dammers, the previous Chair of Rous CC, Keith Williams, said they need to consider the 436 pages of a highly qualified archaeologist’s detailed study like he did. ‘It’s now publicly available on the Rous website in a de-identified form following negotiations I undertook with the Traditional Custodians,’ said Mr Williams.

Mr Nicholson told The Echo that more than 25 pre-European burial mounds would be drowned under many metres of water. ‘Would those pushing the dam be so cavalier if it was their community’s cemetery being destroyed so tourists on the coast can have a 20-minute shower?

The importance of multiple water sources

‘Meanwhile, policy decisions from the State Government are emphasizing the importance of choosing multiple water sources, as a safer option in the face of climate change, than a single large dam,’ he said.

‘This policy also affected the Rous councillors in their decision in December 2020. We have to hope the incoming Rous councillors will read the evidence and listen to the facts before making any decision which will affect our future water security,’ said Mr Nicholson.

A copy of the Ainsworth Heritage Preliminary Cultural Heritage Impact Assessment May 2013 can be found on the Rous County Council website.

* Byron Shire Council is yet to elect Rous County Council representatives.

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  1. Yea great now we have the scare campaigners from the councils on the board, more drinking poo water scare campaigns providing false information to those people who should know better. Back to not the future.

  2. Dam it guys.
    The people going on about burial mounds would happily pave over your grandparents to build a refugee center, or kick you off your land to save some non-existent frog.
    Go to the valley and build that wall.

    • Parents of local mob are buried on Byron Bay land that is now the Wheel Resort, but it is people with contempt for other peoples family graves, like Chris, who did such objectionable things. Where are your parents buried Chris? Shat we put their grave site upfor bulldozing , and what do you think about people that put swastikas on Jewish graves?
      There is increasing contempt for the destruction of Aboriginal heritage, and Chris your comment deserves complete contempt. What do you want – a race war? With half a million Aboriginal warriors taking over your land and house and you and your family left to just get over it? There is now well researched, and Adopted by ROUS, far better options to provide ongoing water security, and with those options now endorsed by a recent study by the State Govt Productivity Commission. Facts, not ‘toilet to tap ‘ fantasies. Casinos “best water in Australia” is serviced by recycled sewerage water fed into a contributing creek, as is Sydney’s Waragamba dam, but dont let the facts get in the way of a purely political ‘toilet to tap’ freighter of a spurious election campaign. New Lismore Councilor ‘Big Rob’ said he wouldnt drink water that had been recycled – but hes been to Casino, so presumably already drunk recycled water, so it appears that Cr Big Robs name fits perfectly into the classic saying “when do you know that a Politician is lying – when he opens his mouth”.

  3. Just what we want in Echonetdaily, controversy.
    There is a precedent, indeed there is, the water supply of Toowoomba Qld.
    In 2006, the recycled water question was put to Toowoomba Council to change to recycled water known as “poo-water”.
    In a referendum the process was rejected by the Toowoomba community.
    The town now gets its water from several dams including piping from the Wivenhoe Dam and from bore water.

  4. Emily Stewart, a quick Google search reveals that: “Four years after Toowoomba residents won a battle over the introduction of recycled sewage in their water supply, today a pipeline which will pump purified wastewater into the town’s system was opened.28 Jan 2010” .

    Have any Toowoomba residents died yet from drinking recycled water?

    The poo water scare campaign in the Rous LGAs was successful at sucking in gullible people to vote for the councillors who would rescue them from the poo water.

    Those councillors will now need to educate themselves about the many options which we will need to give us water security. The Dunoon Dam is the least secure option and the most expensive. Let us hope the new councillors have the humility to abandon an unsafe position on water even though it got them elected.

  5. It’s about Survival, it’s not just a heap of burial mounds, they are significant in a real way to people whose land we are living on.
    AND Only 1% of our Big Scrub rainforest is left! The proposed Dunoon dam would flood the Channon Gorge with its 6.6% of the 1% remaining Big Scrub. If you don’t think that’s worth saving, consider this:
    The Big Scrub features Gondwanan forest, and the survival of the Gondwanan rainforests is a Deep Time history story. These are species, lineages that have survived over 60 million years of evolutionary history, 38 million years of isolation on the Australian continent as it rafted towards Asia. And through time, increasing aridity to end up with less than 1% of this continent, rainforest. ..That part of the continent, that 1% packed with that Gondwanan lineage history, that deep time history
    Dr. Rob Kooyman – Botanist and Evolutionary Ecologist

  6. The issue not being addressed is carrying capacity.
    Any good farmer knows that the carrying capacity and viability of his farm is predicated by the water supply.
    In these days of worsening Climate Change effects including more and severer droughts, dams become less reliable.
    What then ?
    Limiting the population growth of an area may sound contra indicitive to a generation brought up on unlimited and unrestrained growth,
    but we live in a rapidly changing world.

  7. i think the dam was removed from the table because of a few ideogically driven councilors and a mayor trying to enforce their fantasy of human existence onto the greater population but the real question is not do we want “poo water” but do we need “poo water”? northern nsw has some of the highest rainfaill in the country is water recycling the best use of the technology availabe to us do we need desalinization plants along a coastline that shares marine parks and many other protected habitiats do we need to pump more water from the aquifers and sick rivers, dams and tanks are the best sustainable solution with the least longterm enviornmental impact to provide water security for our region.

      • Hey Rob, I notice that on January 22 you opined here in the Echo that RVC Water Treatment plant can filter almost anything out of its water, which is absolutely true ( including Kyogle’s waste water ).
        So I take it that you don’t support the silly arguments being presented here that recycled water is “poo water” and unhealthy. That’s good to know, but I can’t see how you would then assess Dennis’s argument as ‘thoughtful and realistic’.
        Some years we have wonderful rainfall, other years we have massive droughts – and those are forecast to increase in severity and frequency. Dams fail in droughts – particularly in a variable climate! Our leaders should not be putting all eggs in one basket, they should be more agile.

        • the Argument is not about the health and quality of the water,i have no aversion to drinking recycled water, its about the use of the technology and its long term environmental impacts as a solution to not having another dam in the region we are already pumping water up a hill over 200meters in elevation more than 20 kilomteres back to the nightcap treatment plant from an already sick river system we are tapping deeper into aquifers on the alstonvile plateu and we want to add desalinization plants to the mix these technologies have their place but is it on the north coast?

          • Putting another dam below Rocky Creek Dam on the same, already depleted, water course is a recipe for failure in large droughts. Water experts around the world agree that water security comes by diversifying water supply sources, not relying on one source ( the Rocky Creek catchment ). The north coast is a magical place, but magical thinking has no place in developing a resilient water supply. An all-eggs-in-one basket approach just isn’t commonsense ( or economic )!

    • The Dam was removed from the table by thorough ROUS research that identified that it was the least secure and the most expensive option and would take the most time to construct. It would only hold the overflow from Rocky Creek dam, which only overflows generally about 40% of the time, due to the dams small catchment, but in extended drought would get no overflow. In the early 2000s drought inland towns ran out of water and had evacuation plans to remove their entire population. Our “highest rainfall” from 99% of our multiple Shires goes down the stormwater drains, while 99% of our potable water presently goes down the toilet flushes. As for the callous disrespect for the 25 Aboriginal graves there – just another example of callous disregard from white racists.

      Reconcilliation Australia is calling for input – its time to call out these white racists Councillors that lie that they will represent all of the community, and pretend that they respect all of Australian people’s heritage .

      “Reconcilliation NSW is currently gathering intel on what reconciliation looks like in local government
      We are reaching out to you to ask that you share what your experience of reconciliation has been like in your local government area. Good? Bad? Where are LGAs doing well, and what are they doing or not doing? Please forward this on to your members.
      We would like to use this information to compile a directive factsheet / presentation of examples and case studies of what reconciliation looks like in local governance, to be used initiate better strategies and advocate for more action.
      Any examples of your experience would be greatly appreciated. Please reply to my email at [email protected].”

      • wanting to create a community water supply equals racism? now i have heard it all. its as bad as people comparing the dam to a csg mine

      • It’s telling that those who promote the dud second dam on Rocky Creek seem regularly unable to simply say the name “Widjabul Wia-bal” when referring to the traditional owners of the heritage they seem intent on destroying. I’m not sure if that’s through ignorance, or that the utterance of the name would mean acknowledging the existence and reality of the people and their heritage.
        Wanting a resilient water supply isn’t racist; ignoring ongoing links to country and paying due respect certainly hints at it!

  8. A second dam on a small creek , below the one that only releases water when it’s completely full? Yes, that’s got to be a sure bet in the big droughts of climate change!! It’s amazing how old-timers managed to fool themselves this was the way of the future. Get on with developing reliable water supplies!

      • Come back to me when you’ve done your own sums on the relative catchment areas vs capacity ( you can get those from the Rous site) , the number of times that Rock Creek Dam would be able to pass water down to a second dam, and the projected drought resilience of two rainfall-dependent dams in mega-droughts.

  9. Dennis, yes the proposed Dunoon Dam (DD) would have its own catchment because in dry times Rocky Creek Dam (RCD) could not contribute. The DD would be on its own.

    The catchment of the DD is half the size of the catchment of Rocky Creek Dam (19 sq. km compared with 39 sq. km). RCD is full only 30% of the time despite having a huge catchment that is almost all forested. Plus the upper catchment of RCD probably receives 50% more that the DD catchment could. This is based on figures comparing The Channon village with upper Terania Creek which receives 50% more than the village.

    Rous does not measure how much water overflows from RCD so it actually has no idea how it would fare in extreme droughts such as those which are predicted to be unlike anything we have seen in the last 200 years. Basing water security on an insecure climate is just reckless.

    And yes, the Dunoon Dam equals racism. The Widjabul Wia-bal people have been absolutely clear that they do not accept the destruction of their acknowledged, recorded and nationally significant burial sites.

    • i have to disagree with the notion that building the dam is a waste of time because sometmes it just doesnt rain or based on modeling and future predictions of climate change and extreme droughts, that would be worse than putting your eggs into one basket and beyond rekless as you seem to think the people that support the dam only want a dam rather than the dam being part of the regions water security options, creating more water storage is exactly what we need to do for times of extreme drought.
      The catchment size and that it rains more 10km away is irrelevant to the dam filling once the stucture is built it will fill and add to the regions water supply options as a passive source that will actually improve the environment and environmental protections of the catchment area.
      Rocky creek dam even when only 30% full which it is at 100% capacity right now was built to only supply water to lismore bangalow and byron bay and has far exeeded its designs even in times of drought and has been stretched to the limit by rous council forcing solutions like the wilson creek scheme, And
      with Rous council losing water through its leaking network people against the dam for some reason think by adding more parts in the form of tanks, deeper wells in the alstonvile aquifer, water recycling and desalinistation plants is going to be a viable long term soultion without more dams its almost laughable if it wasnt so serious.
      And with all respect to The Widjabul Wia-bal people i wish them well in their fight for their beliefs, but i do understand rous council manages water across the bundjalung nation and is responsible for supplying water to many other people that live in this region we can recognise the need for water security and the concerns of those directly affected without delvolving into emotive language like calling people racist for supporting the part you dont agree with, you seem to use The Widjabul Wia-bal people as some kind of moral shield you can trott out whenever its needed, to assume that all Indigenous Australians should be attached to the preservation of culture and heritage at the expesnse of their real world needs like Water sounds kind of racist in its self and you may want to chain indigenous people to your cause and declare those that disagree as outcasts or sell outs (which i have seen done by opponents of the dam) because you would be a beneficiary of their “culture” iam not going to say they should fight for this or that but we as community need to find a real balance between preserving heritage the environment and supplying the people living in this region with their growing needs.

  10. A 19th century solution to a 21st century problem. Why did we bother training engineers and environmental scientists?
    In the 1990s the state government decided that northern NSW would be the main focus for population increase due to being the only part of the state with enough rainfall to support it.
    What about residential and rural properties on high ground installing water tanks and dams and receiving water feed in tariffs like solar panels do? The water pipelines could become the modern equivalent of a dam.
    What about installing a secondary system that feeds tank and recycled water to toilets that currently use approximately half a households fresh water consumption? Recycling sewerage water will drought proof Lismore as the same water can be utilised indefinitely while also reducing the pressure on sewerage treatment storage capacity. Lots of local jobs would be made installing such systems.
    Time to think outside the box and design a system that will support Lismore City into the 22nd century.


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