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December 6, 2023

Is 10,000 signatures enough to tip the balance 31,531 of voters

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Nan Nicholson says with the new Rous County council being made up of likely 6:2 pro-dam councillors there will be a demand for Rous to shelve the current Integrated Water Cycle Management Strategy. Photo Tree Faerie.

Water Northern Rivers has responded to business papers on the Rous website in which a Notice of Motion to put the Dunoon Dam back on the table has been put on the agenda for the Rous County Council meeting on Wednesday.

Water Northern Rivers is asking, can Rous govern itself?

Spokesperson Nan Nicholson says with the new Rous County council being made up of likely 6:2 pro-dam councillors – assuming Byron goes against the trend – there will be a demand for Rous to shelve the current Integrated Water Cycle Management Strategy (IWCM) and put the Dunoon Dam (DD) back on the table.

‘Much has been made of the 10,000 signatures on a petition which insisted that the dam be reinstated. Some pro-dam councillors have said that they can’t ignore these people.’

Mrs Nicholson says that apparently, they believe that the 10,000 people (6.6 per cent of the population) should determine water policy for Rous County Council. ‘But, these same people emphatically ruled out groundwater, recycled water and desal plants, as permanent water sources. Some of these are already being used by Rous and have been for many years.

‘Does “rule by the 10,000” mean that Rous should never again use groundwater bores and it should immediately pull out the new deep bore that has recently been drilled into the Clarence-Moreton Basin?

‘Should Rous immediately stop pumping water from the Wilson River (into which Bangalow releases its treated sewage) up to the Nightcap Treatment Plant?’

Should Rous be ruled by populist demand?

‘If Rous councillors dictate that Rous County Council should bow to the 10,000 and go with the only option the 10,000 accept (the new dam), then Rous will have to abandon all the other water management options that it has spent the last year developing and implementing.

‘Rous would become unworkable,’ says Mrs Nicholson. ‘How embarrassing for all of us.  Our Northern Rivers community will look like a bunch of backwoods hicks who are stuck in the past and can’t read a scientific report or a cultural heritage impact assessment.’

The first Rous County Council meeting is due to be held on Wednesday, February 16. The meeting will be streamed on Zoom. Visit the Rous website for more details.

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  1. About that 10,000 signatures on a petition .. Lots of people thought they were signing something about water security but didnt understand that it was pro dam. When the good will of a person is appealed to they will sign without understanding the full ramifications. Rous needs to educate their constituents on the complexity of water security in the time of climate change.

  2. “Should Rous be ruled by populist demand?”
    What ! Perish the thought, that could lead to an out break of Democracy.
    Perhaps , if the dam was constructed , there would be no need to re-use Bangalow’s effluent, nor unsustainable desalination or even interfere with the Clarence- Morton Basin and then we would stop acting ” like a bunch of backwoods hicks who are stuck in the past ” and relying on ‘cultural heritage’ to determine contemporary solutions . G”)

    • Desalinated water is cheaper to produce per 1000 litres then it is to treat water out of a dam. When the tugan plant was built, critics said it would never be used, it is a waste of money etc. That thing is running all the time now, and was a saviour for South East Queensland in the droughts. It is one of the most energy efficient plants in the world. It was built in mid 2000s and you can bet the technology is even better now. With the roof top solar causing headaches with the overloading on the grid, why not use this excess power to run a desalinator? You could even use solar to pump the water into hilltop storages that could then be used for hydro power at night as it is fed into the water grid to be used. In other words, a natural battery.

      • Wollumbin Rising if you want to be convincing with your idea, you need to do the maths, the carbon accounting to show the CO2 footprints of each of the proposed options over a 100 year timeframe, whole-of-life-cycle.

        Qualitative expression is meaningless.

        Plus, what do you know about whether desalination plants can be switched on and off repeatedly at zero notice, as the sun comes out and disappears?

        • So what you’re saying is you’re pro dam. Funny you talk about 100 year timeframe, as most dams only have a lifespan of fifty years and then they either fail, or have to be dismantled.
          Dams don’t last for ever, like you have “assumed” they do.

          • Wollumbin rising, there are lots of dams in Australia, and around the world, past 50 years old and heading towards 100. So what you say is rubbish, and we do need to plan on 100 year timeframes.

            And no, I am not exactly pro-dam, as we don’t have enough info to make an informed decision. As my point makes clear.

            But if we as a population want to continue growing the population, and continue warming the planet via excessive, greedy lifestyles, then we will need a new dam or a completely weather independent solution (desal and point being the only one) – hence I asked you the perfectly reasonable question to try to understand the desal option and its CO2 footprint. You could respond in a more productive way by (trying to) answer my question. If you want to be convincing, that is

    • Your the fool mark, check what is written, just because with have a La Niña at the moment don’t expect it to continue. You do know the difference between weather and climate?

  3. A protest gathering against having the dunnon dam back on the planning order for rous water, 9am on Wednesday the 16th of Feb at rous water in molesworth st. Lismore.

  4. As regards the ’10K’ who signed this e-petition; I would like the following question(s) and details of the petitioners to be made public :-
    What were the (possibly skewed) questions ?
    Were these fabled Ten Thousand petitioners all local Nth Rivers/Rous CC ratepayers?
    Did they understand the implications of what they were “signing”?
    Exactly where and when were the said petition(s) exhibited?
    [We certainly don’t need another scare-poll like LCC’s ‘87% are against CSG’ ever again.]

  5. Saying the will of people is “democracy” when you agree with it, but “populist demand” (as a negative connotation) when you disagree with it, is something of an inconsistency. Not a constructive one.

    Calling people names like “backwoods hicks”, because they act at the same obstructive level as one’s own mob, is just plain offensive and confrontational. Just like carrying on about “poo water”.

    Our community needs to focus on working out what the facts of the matter are about what is best for it, not the immaturity of people like Sharon Cadwallader and Nan Nicholson

    • The Dunoon district has a small but persistent Koala population. Flooding the Channon gorge will reduce the viability of this koala colony. Last week’s decision by the Federal government to re-classify the koala as endangered, means that a business-as-usual approach for the management of these iconic marsupials by Rouse water would no longer be acceptable.

      The Dunoon Dam would destroy burial sites that the Elders of the Widjabul Wia-bal tribe have identified as highly significant. The destruction of caves in the Jukkan George by mining giant Rio Tinto was an international scandal that marked a watershed moment in Australian history. The casual destruction of the cultural heritage of Australia’s first nations peoples is no longer an acceptable business model. It is not the 1950’s, Shane. We don’t need the Dunoon dam.

  6. Well, the Devil’s not in the detail since the detail’s not known. Deliberately
    done. Think. We need answers because the ‘dam’ is dammed.

  7. No David, it is not the 1950s. Now the population is much bigger, and the droughts much hotter and longer. We need to deal with this reality we created


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