A 3D model of the porposed Dunoon dam, part of a digital map created by Rous County Council.
A 3D model of the porposed Dunoon dam, part of a digital map created by Rous County Council.

5 reasons to build the Dunoon dam, 5 reasons not to

YESTERDAY, the submission period closed on Rous County Council's future water plan, which contained a controversial option to build a second dam at Dunoon.

While the dam was not the only option touted, it has generated a lot of debate.

Why is the option so controversial?

Here are five reasons people say we need the dam, and five reasons others say we don't.

FOR

1. Rous County Council said the population on the Northern Rivers was growing and measures need to be taken to ensure future water security - the dam was one option proposed in the future water plan.

The catchment and buffer zones of a Proposed Dunoon Dam as they will be discussed by Rous County Council.
The catchment and buffer zones of a Proposed Dunoon Dam as they will be discussed by Rous County Council.

2. Climate change - the Northern Rivers has experienced two dry summers in a row. A new dam would collect more water during periods of greater rainfall to provide water in drier times.

3. According to the water council's report, the Dunoon Dam project is "the lowest cost option for securing the council's water supply to 2060 and beyond".

4. Jobs would be created during the construction period.

5. Some other options are not considered viable, for example, the report said: "Desalination in our region is not a viable water supply option due to the significant costs involved in construction and operation."

NO DAM: The newly formed alliance, WATER Northern Rivers held a protest before they present hundreds of submissions objecting to the Dunoon dam to Rous County Council on September 8, 2020. Photo: Alison Paterson
NO DAM: The newly formed alliance, WATER Northern Rivers held a protest before they present hundreds of submissions objecting to the Dunoon dam to Rous County Council on September 8, 2020. Photo: Alison Paterson

 

AGAINST

1. Opponents say the dam will destroy remnant Big Scrub rainforest.

Annie Kia from WATER Northern Rivers said: "We only have one per cent of the Big Scrub rainforest left in our region, the dam will destroy a significant portion of that and rare flora and fauna".

2. Aboriginal burial sites will be flooded.

Leandra Martiniello said: "Given that the proposed site will flood Widjabal culturally significant sites and artefacts, including burial grounds, I see no way in which this dam can go ahead".

3. It will be expensive - the dam will cost about $220 million to build.

4 Opponents say water rates will rise to cover infrastructure costs. Ballina Shire councillor Jeff Johnson claimed "Rous Water estimates that water usage and supply charges will need to increase by 400 per cent" to cover the costs of the dam over its lifetime.

5. There are other options - recycling water and reducing water loss would reduce the need for a new dam to supply bulk water.

Cr Jeff Johnson said all major new estates in the Ballina Shire have a recycled water pipe built into the infrastructure for toilets, laundry and garden usage, reducing the need for 'new water' to be supplied.

"The concept of building a massive new dam just to flush the water down the toilet and into the creeks, rivers and ultimately the ocean doesn't seem right to me."

Cr Johnson promoted the use of rainwater tanks, recycled water and repair of leaking pipes.


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