NSW Parliamentary Secretary for Water Infrastructure, Sam Farraway, today called on the Australian and NSW Governments to work together to secure the long term water needs of the Northern Rivers to meet growing demand, encourage regional development and mitigate flood risks.
According to Rous County Council’s Integrated Water Cycle Management (IWCM) Strategy the Northern Rivers are facing water shortages, with demand projected to exceed supply by 2024. Current projections of population growth in the Northern Rivers demonstrates water demand is forecast to grow by 37 per cent by 2060, and that changing land uses to support this growth will only increase community flood risks.
Mr Farraway said water infrastructure is key to the economic growth of the region, and essential to addressing the regions housing shortages. “You can’t grow a community without access to a safe, clean and reliable water source”
“Having the right infrastructure in place to increase the amount of water captured in our systems puts us on a war-footing ahead of more infrequent but intense rainfall,” Mr Farraway said.
“We are already experiencing increased climate volatility and we need to ensure we capture rain when it falls to sustain us during periods of drought.
Mr Farraway said the Australian Government and the NSW Government need to work together on the regional water strategy and commission an independent study to investigate water storage and security, flood mitigation, river health and water quality across the Northern Rivers.
Mr Farraway made the comments after watching today’s extraordinary meeting of Rous County Council.
“The community feedback on the Council’s IWCM Strategy was overwhelmingly in favour of the Dunoon Dam project with more than 10,000 of the 13,000 submissions received supporting the Dam being investigated as a future water project.” Mr Farraway said.
“It is outrageous that the majority of elected Councillors have completely ignored the community consultation process and Rous County Council staff recommendations. The community has rightfully lost confidence in these Councillors.”
Mr Farraway said this is why it is necessary for the State and Federal Government’s to undertake an independent study and include this in the Regional Water Strategy.
“This study will take the politics out of it and focus on the science.” Mr Farraway said.