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June 20, 2024

Drinking water in Ballina’s open spaces to be prioritised

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A community campaign for a hospital in Murwillumbah led, in 1899, to two committees and a Board of Trustees being formed, and the selection of a 15-acre site. The hospital itself opened in May 1904.

Rocky Creek Dam, the main supply of drinking water in the Ballina Shire. Photo supplied.

Ballina Shire Council staff are to make sure all open spaces and parks in the shire have access to drinking water, starting with an audit of current availability.

Councillors agreed to the plan at September’s ordinary meeting via a motion from Independent Cr Jeff Johnson.

Cr Johnson’s motion had three parts, thanks to he and Cr Rodney Bruem agreeing to combine separate but similar motions they had featured on the agenda.

Cr Johnson had called for the audit and for drinking water to be a priority in terms of funding investigations ‘as part of the preparation of the 2024/25 Delivery Program and Operational Plan’.

Cr Bruem had called for a report on options for a plan to fulfil the goal of available drinking water at all Ballina Council open spaces.

The conservatively-aligned councillor agreed to second a longer version of the typically more progressive Cr Johnson’s motion, with his motion added to the list.

Climate change driven thirst cited

Cr Jeff Johnson in Ballina. Photo David Lowe.

Cr Johnson’s original motion said neither Fripp Oval nor the Ballina Heights Sports Fields had access to drinking water via a tap or bubbler when the change rooms and amenities building was closed.

This was ‘basically at all other times apart from when organised sport is being played,’ Cr Johnson said.

‘As a father of young children who often use our sports fields and parks with both my kids and their friends it has become obvious that the provision of drinking water at these Council facilities and parks is needed.,’ he said.

Cr Johnson said there were outdoor taps at both sports fields ‘but the head of those taps have been removed, presumably due to them being left on or not having the “auto turn off” function’.

He said a bubbler and tap similar to what was provided at the Skennars Sports fields was urgently needed.

Cr Rod Bruem. Photo David Lowe.

Meanwhile, Cr Bruem said medical advice increasingly pointed to the need for humans to stay hydrated, ‘consuming around two litres of water daily’.

Cr Bruem said climate change forecasters were predicting hotter and more humid weather in future years, presenting more of a challenge to stay hydrated and to be able to access clean available drinking water.

‘It makes sense to drink tap water rather than buy single use plastic bottles,’ Cr Bruem’s notes concluded, ‘it is estimated Australians buy more than 15 billion plastic bottles annually and many end up as landfill or polluting roadsides and water ways’.

Local coach supports call for more bubblers

The call for public drinking water was supported during public access at the meeting.

Dylan Edwards said he was a long-term resident homeowner in Cumberland with two beautiful boys aged ten and eight.

Mr Edwards said he and his family had been heavily involved in Tintenbar East Ballina Football Club for a number of years, with his oldest son recently receiving his five year trophy.

‘I’ve been coaching and assistant coaching for all that time,’ Mr Edwards said, ‘and one constant that I’ve really noticed down at those fields is when the clubhouse isn’t open, there is no access to drinking water at all’.

‘There’s one tap that sits underneath the canteen window that doesn’t even have a handle on it,’ Mr Edwards said.

The concerned coach said responsible parents were making sure children had full, full water bottles but there was nowhere to refill them.

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