Back from left, Peter Lovett – Rous County Council Construction Officer and Shaun Zimmerman – Ledonne Constructions P/L Construction Manager.
Back from left, Peter Lovett – Rous County Council Construction Officer and Shaun Zimmerman – Ledonne Constructions P/L Construction Manager.

WATER SECURITY: New dam one option on the table

THE option of another dam on the Northern Rivers will be tabled at a meeting next month when Rous County Council works to secure the region's water supply into the future.

After a summer of drought, bushfires and tough water restrictions, water security is a hot topic.

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Rous County Council will debate a report suggesting options to secure water availability on the Northern Rivers at its June meeting.

Shark net critic: Ballina Council Deputy Mayor Keith Williams
Rous County Council chair Keith Williams.

Rous County Council chair, Cr Keith Williams said the definitive elements of the plan were not public yet.

"We are looking at how do we provide water (for the region) in an 80-year timeline," he said.

"We began this process in 2014, expecting to have results by 2022, but two years ago we decided to bring results in this year, because we realised we were getting close to the water restrictions we experienced in November last year.

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"The population growth is starting to catch up with us, and that's the driver for this (report).

"Even if we drive down the amount of water per head that people need, the demand is still growing."

Rocky Creek Dam experienced its driest period in 45 years over summer and Level 2 water restrictions were imposed on consumers of water from Rous County Council.

The water flowing through St Helena pipeline comes from Rocky Creek Dam.

Cr Williams said a dam in Dunoon is one of the possible solutions discussed in the upcoming report.

"We need to have multiple sources, that's a sensible protective strategy.

"There is safety in multiple sources and for them to be located in different parts of the supply network," he said

"We are looking at the Dunoon dam option. I can't say that's necessarily the solution, (but) it's considered a potential dam site."

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Mr Williams said while the option was not "a done deal", they did not want it to be a surprise to the community that it was a possibility. He said they would also speak to local Aboriginal people about the option.

A growing population, particularly on the coast, has also prompted an upgrade of other water infrastructure.

Construction on the new St Helena pipeline has begun in response to increased demand for bulk water in coastal regions.

Cr Williams said construction on the $36 million St Helena pipeline project began in March.

"As part of the project, the existing 300mm pipeline, which has reached the end of its service life, will be replaced with a new 660mm diameter water main," he said.

The pipeline will be delivered in two stages with the first stage covering 13,200 metres from Dorroughby to the Clunes cross connection.

Stage 2 continues from the Clunes cross connection to Friday Hut Road.

Rous County Council provides bulk water supply to Ballina (excluding Wardell), Byron (excluding Mullumbimby), Lismore (excluding Nimbin) and Richmond Valley (excluding land to the west of Coraki).

The regional supply network includes approximately 40,100 connections within the reticulation areas of these constituent councils.

Rous also works in the areas of weed biosecurity and flood mitigation.