Rous County Council needs to use some common sense in developing its future water strategy according to Clarence Nationals MP and Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture and Forestry, Chris Gulaptis.
Mr Gulaptis said he was disappointed the majority of Rous Councillors ignored the overwhelming wishes of the community at yesterday’s extraordinary meeting and abandoned investigations into the Dunoon Dam as an option.
Councillors voted 5-3 to keep the Dunoon Dam out of the region’s future water strategy and instead tap into ground water aquifers in Alstonville and Tyagarah, which the most recent studies show is very limited.
“I applaud Councillors Robert Mustow, Sandra Humphrys and Sharon Cadwallader for supporting the wishes of over 11,000 petitioners and written submissions who were in favour of the Dunoon Dam proposal being further investigated.
“The five opposing Councillors showed a complete disregard to the community consultation process and the community has every right to lose confidence in them and the democratic process. It quite rightly is a slap in the face to local democracy,” Mr Gulaptis said.
“Water is one of the most basic elements we need to survive, and I acknowledge the vision of past Rous Councillors who recognised this and purchased land for a dam to secure the water needs for a growing population and local economy.
“I find it staggering the majority of current councillors are prepared to ignore this longstanding strategy along with disregarding the wishes of the overwhelming majority of the community whose submissions supported investigating the dam as an option.
“I acknowledge that desalination, recycling and extraction from the aquifers is an option, but so too is the dam.
“I strongly believe all options should all be on the table, including the dam, for investigation to assure the community that Rous has been thorough in arriving at the best option for the region’s future water needs.
“We know the Northern Rivers population is forecasted to grow very quickly and it is vital our communities have a clean and reliable water source.
“I support an independent study to investigate future water demands, river health and flood mitigation and that this should be included in the Regional Water Strategy.
“It is often said that local government is the government closest to the people. Clearly that is not the case of the five elected councillors in this instance, who are ignoring the will of more than 10,000 constituents”, Mr Gulaptis concluded.