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New plan for north NSW councils' water

A plan to activate existing groundwater sources in Alstonville, New South Wales, and to use underground aquifers in Tyagarah are key pillars of Rous County Council’s (RCC) draft Future Water Project 2060, which is currently on display.

The revised strategic plan also makes a number of water-saving recommendations, including finding ways to overcome the barriers to using purified recycled water for drinking purposes in NSW.

RCC is made up of Lismore, Ballina, Byron and Richmond Valley councils, and delivers bulk water, weed biosecurity and flood mitigation services to NSW’s Northern Rivers. As the region’s water supply authority, RCC manages the delivery of water from Rocky Creek Dam and Emigrant Creek Dam to around 100,000 people.

Residents of the region will be able to provide feedback on the revised draft Future Water Project 2060 while it is on public exhibition until Friday, 28 May 2021.

“Our revised approach provides a suitable alternative following the decision last year not to proceed with further investigations into the Dunoon Dam,” said RCC Chairperson Keith Williams.

“Despite this refocus, the critical water security challenges facing our regional supply from forecast population growth and changing climate conditions still remain.

“Transforming the local government-owned bores around Alstonville into a primary water source is a priority, especially as it will ensure we can keep up with forecast demand from 2024."

Among the recommendations of the plan are proposals to redevelop existing groundwater bores within the Alstonville aquifer, investigate two new options for using groundwater from the Tyagarah area as a primary supply, install smart water metering for direct retail customers, and build a pilot treatment plant and direct potable reuse scheme.

“The revised future water project sets out a staged approach under which additional groundwater sources are gradually brought online, while at the same time enhanced demand management initiatives and potential purified recycled water schemes are identified,” Williams said.

RCC is encouraging local residents to provide their feedback on the plan.

“We’re always looking to improve engagement with communities across our entire service area, especially in relation to critical regional issues such as water security and the use of new water sources,” said RCC General Manager Phillip Rudd.

Residents can learn more and provide feedback on the project’s dedicated webpage.