Nambucca councillors dam angry

By UTE SCHULENBERG

PAULA Flack reckons John Ainsworth has a serious case of 'dam envy'.

The two Nambucca Shire councillors were at odds at Thursday night's council meeting when Cr Ainsworth renewed his push for a dam in the headwaters of the Nambucca River.

This followed a response from the NSW Department of Energy, Utilities and Sustainability, which advised that while there were economic and environmental hurdles, there was no government policy preventing on-stream water storage.

"We started investigating off-stream water storage because we were told that was the only option and now the estimated cost of that is $30 million," Cr Ainsworth said.

"Locals believe there are some good sites at the top end of the river, above agriculture, where a dam could be built cheaply and easily."

Cr Ainsworth said he believed ratepayers deserved to have the other side of the storage equation looked at.

Cr Paula Flack said she could not support such a plan.

"Our river is the lifeblood of this shire," Cr Flack said.

"Damming rivers has profound downstream effects.

"On-stream storage is controversial and would probably lead to a court challenge.

"We've already spent close to $1 million working towards off-stream storage - it would be foolhardy to investigate this stupid idea."

Cr Rhonda Hoban said it would be foolish not to examine the options fully.

"This is about the security of the shire's water supply," Cr Hoban said.

"Even if it turns out to be a financial and environmental disaster, we should go through the process to show we are open and honest in examining all the options."

The council resolved to receive a report on the viability of on-stream storage in the upper reaches of the Nambucca River.

Crs Flack, Martin Ballangarry and Mike Moran voted against it.

Cr Moran said the council had already bought the land for off-stream storage, and dams in rivers 'only stuffed things up'.



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