A 3D version of what a possible Dunoon Dam would look like, available from the Rous County Council website.
A 3D version of what a possible Dunoon Dam would look like, available from the Rous County Council website.

Councillors reveal plan to revive Dunoon Dam proposal

Three Northern Rivers councillors have submitted a rescission motion to bring the proposed Dunoon Dam project back to the region's future water infrastructure plans.

Rous Councillors Robert Mustow and Sandra Humphrys from Richmond Valley Council, along with Ballina representative Sharon Cadwallader, signed the document submitted to the council.

Mr Mustow confirmed their intention to do so back in December.

They want to ensure the dam is off the plans only if there is scientific proof there is enough groundwater to ensure the long term viability of water supply for the region.

The document acknowledges "the deep significance of the land in and around the proposed Dunoon Dam site to traditional owners and to the local community".

It also notes that 1298 submissions were received in response to the proposal, "with 90 per cent of respondents to the exhibition having concerns regarding the Dunoon Dam and 56 per cent of respondents expressing concerns regarding groundwater options".

The motion directs Rous General Manager to provide a report on the "orderly exit from Dunoon Dam as an option in the Future Water Project".

 

The catchment and buffer zones of a proposed Dunoon Dam.
The catchment and buffer zones of a proposed Dunoon Dam.

The document also stated the Rous general manager should "commence work on the exist strategy once the long-term viability of Scenario 1 Groundwater has been confirmed".

On December 16, 2020, Rous County Council voted to remove the proposed 50GL Dunoon Dam from its Water Future Plan 2060, after a last-minute motion by Lismore councillor Vanessa Ekins.

Instead of the dam, the motion changed the focus of the plan to the upgrade of the Marom Creek Water Treatment Plant and the use of new underground water from the Alstonville area for the first ten years, to develop technology to allow for direct and indirect potable reuse of water.

Cr Cadwallader said having the dam as a possibility will not stop Rous from researching and innovating new strategies.

"We are working on Perradenya Estate and Rous is looking into where desalination is possible, but at the end of the day we also need to ensure that our decisions don't mean people paying more rates in the future," she said.

"I am going to drive this as far as it needs to be driven, because it's irresponsible not to."

 

Northern Rivers Water group held a protest outside Rous County Council’s offices on September 8, 2020. Photo: Alison Paterson
Northern Rivers Water group held a protest outside Rous County Council’s offices on September 8, 2020. Photo: Alison Paterson

Asked about the level of community opposition to the proposed dam, the Ballina councillor said she expected most people want the project to happen.

"Because it's a lower-cost option, they expected that decision would be carried by council.

"I'd love to mobilise the community, all those people that just sit back and expected that (the dam) would proceed, now it's the time for them to come forward and say 'we are not going to take this, we need a secure water supply, and we don't want to want to be drinking recycled effluent and we don't want a desal plant, we want a cost-effective option'."

The motion will be discussed at Rous' next ordinary meeting on February 17.


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