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Shannon Creek Dam Image: Clarence Valley Council.

Have your say on the future of the valley’s water supply

Geoff Helisma

 

The NSW Government is calling on people to have their say about the draft Regional Water Strategy (North Coast), which is on exhibition (on line) until April 14.

Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis said, in a media release, that the draft strategy outlines options for securing the region’s water over the next 20 years.

“The draft strategy considers what challenges the region may face in future as a result of climate change and population growth and provides a long list of options that could help address those challenges,” he said.

“The options focus on maintaining and diversifying water supplies, and supporting water use efficiency and conservation.

“Public consultation will help us understand what we need to do to balance the water needs for agriculture, business and towns, with environmental needs and the water rights of Aboriginal people.”

A face-to-face public information session will take place at the Grafton District Services Club from 1pm to 3.30pm on Wednesday March 24 – register here to find out more; or search North Coast Regional Water Strategy at www.industry.nsw.gov.au.

The session will consist of an overview of the climate data modelling approach, the long list of options, the submission process, and a questions and answers session.

One of the three documents on exhibition outlines a “long list of options” for future management of the north coast’s water supplies.

For example, option one “involves investigating the potential benefits of connecting Bellingen Shire Council and Nambucca Valley Council to the Clarence-Coffs Harbour Regional Water Supply Scheme”.

“Further work is required to understand the impact of this option on town water security for Clarence and Coffs Harbour,” the options paper states.

“The additional demand will be during extended dry periods when Clarence Valley Council (CVC) and Coffs Harbour City Council will also require access to stored water.

“The route, transfer rates, operational considerations, as well as governance arrangements, also need to be scoped.”

Both of the councils are amid confidential negotiations, presumably with each other, Essential Energy, which owns and manages the Clarence-Coffs Harbour Regional Water Supply Scheme, and the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment, regarding “the future ownership of this asset and the transfer of the associated town water licence”.

Clarence Valley Council owns and manages the Shannon Creek Dam, which is being considered for augmentation, in order to “provide additional benefit to any other towns” that connect to the scheme in the future.

The options document also considers turbidity issues related to upgrading “major town-water treatment facilities”.

Clarence Valley Council is one of four councils that “needs to manage extraction based on turbidity”.

“High turbidity water is an issue during and after heavy rainfall, particularly if this follows a long dry period, bushfires or both,” the options document states.

“High turbidity can affect disinfection efficiency and is also used as a surrogate indicator for other risks such as nutrients (algae potential) and pathogens.

“High turbidity can also limit or reduce extraction opportunities, potentially impacting town water security.”

Significantly, damming of the Clarence River and diverting rivers in land, including the Clarence, are excluded under the heading, “Options not progressed”.

The draft north coast strategy is one of 12 regional strategies being developed across the state.

For more information and to register your attendance visit https://www.dpie.nsw.gov.au/north-coast-regional-water-strategy.

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