ABOVE: Toonumbar Dam filled to the brim. Photo: Susanna Freymark
We asked the 18 Richmond Valley Council candidates about water.
There has been much heated debate about the Dunoon Dam expansion, tapping into groundwater and using recycled water.
Here’s what the candidates said:
What will bring town water security? Are you for or against expanding of the Dunoon dam – and why?
Neale Genge: It’s needed and should be considered. The Dunoon Dam proposal is a regional matter and needs consideration as such. It affects the mid Richmond who source their water from Rous County. People must have short memories if they forget back in 2019 when were on water restrictions and most of the population of the Richmond Valley were buying bottled water.
Patrick Deegan: Council have taken a sensible approach ensuring all options are considered. Over 10,000 people made submissions to Rous and this needs to be respected. Current councillors recognise the environmental and cultural concerns regarding the dam that will be difficult to overcome, and there are also environmental concerns in relation to other options. I welcome the CSIRO investigation into water security and river health.
Robert Hayes: I support the latest press release from the Minister for Water Melinda Pavey that has brought back all options to the table to be reviewed for future water security for the Northern Rivers Area including the Dunoon Dam and Possible connection to the Toonumbar Dam.
Peter Nielsen: The findings of the Rous County Council Integrated Water Cycle Management Plan advise on water security. We can do things better and more efficiently such as reserving drinking water for domestic use. Dams are high risk investments as they rely on rainfall so are less resilient than other options in a changing climate. A mix of modern water solutions is a more reliable option than flooding the Channon Gorge.
Robert Mustow: Council is currently in the process of preparing a Future Water Strategy for Casino, this will reveal different options to investigated. I can’t comment on whether I am for or against the Dunoon Dam until all the options are investigated then I can make an informed decision, however I support the State Government’s decision to include the dam in future studies.
Jill Lyons: The Dunoon Dam raises important questions. If we are serious about protecting our environment and listening to our indigenous community, working on other options as suggested by experts should be considered. The announcement of the CSIRO now doing yet another costly study into all the options, including the dam’s viability — the decision and what to do to, I feel, has been taken from locals’ hands.
Sandra Humphrys: The CSIRO’s independent review into Far North Coast Water Security validates concerns that Cr Robert Mustow and I raised as delegates to ROUS, RVC’s representation to Federal and NSW Governments – but most importantly the 10,000+ people who called for investigations into the Dunoon Dam.
Ted Hoddinott: There has been a failure in consultation with our communities over indigenous heritage issues and potential damaging environmental impacts regarding the Dunoon Dam proposal. The area to be flooded contains very high biodiversity and the loss of fauna habitat will create threats to many species. Increase subsidies and rebates for household rainwater tanks is an option worth considering.
Michele Yates: I believe we need to look at what works around the world and make decisions for the future. I am excited to see what CSIRO recommend regarding water security. Water has been mismanaged throughout Australia for the past 250 years and it’s time it stopped.
Louise Wicks: Water security is a necessity for any area with potential growth. All options for extra water supply to our area need to be thoroughly researched and the most suitable option, whatever that maybe, will need to be supported by multiple LGAs.
Daniel Simpson: The area needs to find an appropriate additional water source. A number of current investigations are currently being carried out. I support further investigation and assessment of all of the options including the Dunoon Dam in order to find the most appropriate additional water source for the area.
Trudy Lamont: Water security is essential for dependable supply and greater drought resilience. I support the continued investigation of all options including the Dunoon Dam, to be adequately considered by Rous. Additionally, the contribution of water conservation to long-term sustainability can’t be undervalued. More rainwater tanks on the shire’s residences will reduce the demand on the water supply, infrastructure and environmental health.
Jacob Dhnaram: Council has sensibly approached this issue by considering all options. There are many cultural and environmental concerns over this topic and it’s a decision that needs to be made with great care. Independent advice from the CSIRO is greatly welcomed.