The Dunoon Dam has twice been rejected by Rous County Council as an option to secure future water supply for the Northern Rivers, so why does it remain a topic of heated debate?
Lismore City Council heard a motion at its meeting this week, requesting the council support the dam being put back on the table for consideration.
The motion was not successful, with five of eight councillors voting against it, but there remains a push from some sectors to see the dam reinstated to the Future Water Project 2060.
In December, the water authority for the region, Rous County Council, voted to exclude the Dunoon Dam as an option, electing to change the focus of the plan to other options – such as upgrading Marom Creek Water Treatment Plant and the use of new underground water from the Alstonville area for the first 10 years, to develop technology to allow for direct and indirect potable reuse of water.
Councillors who voted to remove the dam as an option cited Aboriginal heritage and environmental factors in the reasons for its removal.
But since the decision was made in December, a recission motion has been lodged – and lost, and three councils have heard motions calling for the dam to be reinstated.
Two councillors each from the constituent councils make up the Rous County Council – Keith Williams (chair) and Sharon Cadwallader from Ballina, Simon Richardson and Basil Cameron from Byron, Darlene Cook and Vanessa Ekins from Lismore, and Sharon Humphrys and Robert Mustow from Richmond Valley Council.
Cr Cadwallader, Cr Mustow and Cr Humphrys voted to keep the Dunoon Dam as an option.
In January, the majority of Ballina Shire councillors voted to support further investigation into the proposed dam and sent the recommendation to Rous County Council.
It stated the Ballina council had major concerns about a secure water strategy for the region and asked Rous County Council to continue investigating the dam as an option.
The statement read: “The groundwater on the Alstonville Plateau has many demands on it and should not be relied upon as a major source of supply”.
In February, Richmond Valley Council voted unanimously to write to Rous outlining their concerns about the removal of the dam as an option in the Future Water Project 2060.
Mayor Mustow said there was no doubt the water project would help future proof the region’s drinking water supplies, and support increased resilience in the face of changing climate conditions.
“That is why we are asking Rous to look at all aspects of water security to ensure the levels of service our community expects can be maintained, including studies on the viability of groundwater and the Dunoon Dam,” Cr Mustow said.
He said Richmond Valley Council was undertaking its own investigations to improve water security for the Casino water supply.
During the Lismore council meeting, Cr Nancy Casson said Dunoon Dam had not…
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