IT’S National Water Week and on Thursday, Nambucca Shire councillors will decide whether to proceed with plans to build a $54 million dam at North Arm, outside Bowraville, in order to secure the shire’s future water supply.
According to Mayor Rhonda Hoban with Federal and State government funds of $28 million on offer time is running out to make a decision.
“Delays not only put the funding at risk, but also the costs, which will only increase with time,” Cr Hoban said.
“And if we don’t do something soon, I am concerned the State Government could step in and take over the operation of our water and sewerage on the grounds of the council’s indecisiveness.”
Over the past few months some councillors have been deferring the decision, requiring more information on the alternative on-stream storage option.
“I absolutely respect their right to ensure every option has been explored,” Cr Hoban said.
“For a major project like this it is important the council works as a team and each councillor feels the decision is the right one.”
Cr Brian Finlayson is one of those who has serious reservations about the off-stream storage.
“Firstly, we still do not know the final costs of the off-stream option, nor do we know the per annum cost of maintaining water quality,” Cr Finlayson said.
“I am also concerned about our capacity to keep the dam full and useable during times of low river flow, since it relies on pumping from our borefields to keep it topped up.
“Finally, there are huge losses from both evaporation and environmental flow requirements.”
He said the cost of building a weir for an on-stream system was not the problem (estimates put it at half the cost of the dam), but rather how to deliver the water to Bowraville, 34 kilometres away.
“A pipeline is prohibitively expensive so now we are examining how cost-effective it would be to let the water run down the river,” he said.
“There are still more answers needed – we are one of the poorest shires in NSW, so we need to be very sure of getting the right outcome, one that is affordable. ”
Cr Hoban agreed guaranteeing water quality was a risk with the off-stream option and any problems could lead to the need for a $20- million filtration plant.
Accurate costings to pump water from the Bowraville borefields up to the dam have also not yet been finalised.