'Bigger than CSG': calls for deep look at water extraction
A COMMUNITY group has called for a review into the water extraction industry to have a broadened scope.
Save Alstonville Aquifer spokesman Michael Hogan has called for the NSW Chief Scientist and Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair to consider widening a review into the industry on the Northern Rivers. Mr Hogan said the terms of reference for the review were too narrow.
He said the review should also consider broad "environmental, agricultural and community factors" associated with water extraction.
With anti-water extraction signs peppering the Rous landscape, Mr Hogan said he believed the issue was "bigger than CSG".
Fellow SAA member and former researcher David Huett, said the "intensely farmed" Alstonville plateau was under stress.
An application currently before Ballina Shire Council and NSW Water could see an existing irrigation-based water extraction approval expanded to allow for water to be removed from the Ellis Rd, Rous property for bottling.
Nearby Youngman Creek is currently bone-dry, and Mr Huett feared further extractions would have a broad impact on the region's waterways.
Ballina Greens MP Tamara Smith said she had met with the group and presented the council with more than 200 submissions against the Ellis Rd proposal.
Ms Smith has called on the State Government to give councils the power to prohibit water extraction under their Local Environmental Plans.
"Rather than enacting (banning it), we get an inquiry with very narrow terms of reference that does not include many of the community's main concerns," Ms Smith said.
North Coast Nationals MLC and Ballina candidate Ben Franklin said he shared the group's concerns.
A spokesman for the Office of the Chief Scientist said the review's terms of reference cover the extraction industry's water entitlements and how much they take, sustainability of the extraction limits in the relevant water sharing plans, advice on water monitoring, advice on impacts on both the surface water and groundwater with a view to the current industry as well as potential future industry.
"The review will look at climate and rainfall issues, including in the context of the extended dry period we are facing," he said.
He said they would also consider the sustainability of extraction limits in water sharing plans, which includes water retained for ecosystems and sensitive areas.
The review team will visit the region on January 20 and 21. To meet with them or lodge a submission, email firstname.lastname@example.org.