$245M plan to ensure the future is water-tight

A PLAN to secure the region’s water supply has been adopted by Rous County Council and will go into public exhibition for six weeks from July 1.

Recommendations in the plan include the expansion of water treatment capabilities, a new dam, a desalination project and a recycled water option.

The Future Water Project 2060 identifies the most viable options for increasing the council’s bulk water supply, with two key actions:

One is investing almost $25 million to upgrade Marom Creek Water Treatment Plant near Wollongbar, and use existing groundwater infrastructure.

The second one is a new, $220 million Dunoon Dam with a water storage capacity of 50 gigalitres.

The report also explains that the possible dam will not be ready until at least 2029. In the meantime, the region may need to look into extracting underground water to meet the ever increasing demand.

Possible extraction points for underground water mentioned in the report are Alstonville/Wollongbar, Newrybar, Tyagarah and Woodburn.

But the plan, and all the options available, is far from set in stone.

Rous County Council general manager Phillip Rudd said this will start a period of consultation with Northern Rivers residents, most of it online due to pandemic restrictions.

“There is going to be a body of work that has a visualisation that shows each of the options, but also gives the community an understanding of some of the challenges associated with each of the options that we are investigating, particularly geographical terrain and the distance between where the water is and where our residents live,” he said.

COUNCILLORS: From left, present at the meeting were Cr Simon Richardson, Cr Vanessa Ekins, Phillip Rudd (general manager), Cr Sandra Humphrys, Cr Keith Williams (chair), Michael McKenzie (Future Water project manager), Cr Sharon Cadwallader (deputy chair), Cr Darlene Cook and Cr Robert Mustow.

The council’s chairman Keith Williams said the adoption of this plan offers a long-term strategy for the region’s future.

“That enables us to plan and try to get government support to really make sure that our community can grow,” he said.

“We don’t want water security to be a limitation for our community.”

Cr Williams said he was very excited about the possibility of a joint project between the NSW Government and SCU in a pilot recycled water supply scheme for Perradenya estate, near Lismore.

“Our aim is to be the first scheme in NSW to be licensed. We then can provide a pathway for every other water utility in NSW to be able to look at recycled water in the future.”

The proposed Future Water Project 2060 will be available by visiting rous.nsw.gov.au or by calling (02) 6623 3800.

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