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Byron Shire
February 2, 2023

Ballina water supply

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A recent Echo article regarding Rous County Council’s plans to access Alstonville ground water through bores for its Future Water Project 2060 via an ‘Alstonville Water Treatment Plant’ should ring alarm bells for the people of Ballina Shire.

Just where is the scientific evidence to show that there are aquifers capable to supply such a long-term project? How do you determine where the water is to be allocated? It would need stringent monitoring and allocations. Currently it is a ‘free for all’ despite so called ‘caps’. Recent reports show WaterNSW has lost control of its regulations. 

Comments made by Rous CC seem to suggest that aquifers/bores are not subject to rainfall shortages and droughts. Underground water is a worldwide inexact science, as such, how do they fill? By divine intervention? By fairies with buckets? No scientific body worldwide can agree on how long it takes for rainwater to reach an aquifer, some say up to 300 years. If so, someone else may use the Tyagarah water before it reaches the aquifer! 

If it takes so long to reach the aquifers, what about the poisons, chemicals, fertilisers and rubbish we have dumped in the last 300 years? Let’s hope nature can strip them out before they reach the aquifers.

Most bores require two separate holes – this means as you pump down one section the first bore can recharge back to original level. If the proposed bore on the Alstonville Plateau lasts until 2060, what happens after that? What do we leave our children and grandchildren? There cannot be such a short-sighted view.

Adelaide vegetable growers tried refilling bores with recycled water, that was not successful. In coastal WA it was found that too many spear point pumps had drained water out and the aquifer was refilled with sea water. The Chinese are buying properties in the NT with huge water licences from the NT Government with access to the Great Artesian Basin.

Has the public had a say? Or is it like the ‘water mining’ scenario on the Alstonville Plateau a few years ago, which my wife discovered in the Ballina Shire Council DA was described as a ‘Water Supply System’? Look what happened when the residents of the plateau were alerted to that! Ballina Council voted unanimously to reject it and stop future water bottling. What about all the problems in the Tweed Council area? There is a ‘knock on’ effect. The NSW chief scientist could not make any accurate assessment of the aquifers.

In 1987 we suggested to Ballina Shire Council the following:

• the need for ‘fresh clean drinking water’;

• to stop filling in tidal wetlands, floodplains and low lying areas;

• that all new houses have water tanks, and encourage refit of same on old homes (cleanliness of tanks was viewed as a health risk at that time, so the LEP would not allow tanks then).

2005 saw Ballina Council’s tip be fined $40,000 by the EPA for polluting the watertable. 

That cost to the ratepayers was $8 million to dump rubbish in Qld while it fixed the problem.

Our suggestion to have a ‘carbon dosing plant’ added to the new treatment plans for the Marom Creek Weir in Alstonville was accepted as it was, subject to blue/green algae.

1987–2022, 35 years of trying to forewarn BSC of the importance of water security by the Quicks.

2024–2060, 37 years of hoping and guessing by Ballina Council and Rous CC for water security.

Clive Quick, Rous 

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