Rous Water holds public meeting on Dunoon Dam

ANDI SIMPSON owns the land where the wall would be built for the proposed Dunoon Dam, yet she wasn't invited to a stakeholders meeting being held by Rous Water today.

Ms Simpson raised her concern at a public meeting at the Dunoon Sports and Recreation Club on Tuesday night. The meeting was called by Rous Water to inform the public of the progress of the dam, and to begin a process of public consultation.

Ms Simpson said she eventually managed to get included on the list of stakeholders, but was appalled that affected landowners weren't considered in the first instance.

Rous Water has been acquiring land for the project for over a decade and has purchased almost half the land it requires on a voluntary basis. However the water authority has the power to compulsorily acquire land if it can prove the need for a project to the State Government and offer just compensation.

Dunoon Dam was first identified as Rous' preferred option for dealing with expected increases in demand back in 1995.

In the past year it has appointed a full-time project manager, Rob Cawley.

Rous Water has also put out a tender to employ a lead consultant who would assist in procuring contracts for environmental, geological and technical studies and collate preliminary design concepts.

Ms Simpson said many interesting questions were raised during the public meeting, but thought Rous Water's operation manager Wayne Franklin had 'sidestepped the issue of access for construction'.

“It's quite possible it could be where our house site is,” she said.

Mr Franklin told the meeting the dam would be needed somewhere between 2018 and 2030, based on estimates of population growth and the need for a secure water supply.

Rous Water has always maintained construction of the dam had not been finalised because it still had to carry out extensive costing, geological studies, community consultation and obtain State Government approval.

“Rous has resolved to proceed with the dam and resolved to build it when it is required,” Mr Franklin told the meeting on Tuesday night.

“We have just begun the process of justifying the dam. Unless we can convince the State Government and take the community with us, then we won't build the dam.”

However it was revealed there are currently no alternative plans being investigated to meet the projected demand if Dunoon Dam is found to be unsuitable at some point in the process.

When questioned about this Mr Franklin said Rous Water had previously investigated other sites for a dam, including Federal, but Dunoon was chosen as the best site.

He said the authority had also investigated accessing water from Toonumbar Dam, west of Kyogle.

Lismore resident Gordon Fraser-Quick suggested the reason for building the dam so big was so water could be piped to the Tweed Shire and South-East Queensland.

Mr Franklin dismissed the idea that water would be sent to Queensland as 'a furphy' but said it was possible that in the future water could be shared between Rous and the Tweed.

“It would only take 15 kilometres of pipe from Ocean Shores to Pottsville to join the Tweed system,” Mr Franklin said.

“We could share water between the systems and the State Government is looking at the possibility. It could be a sensible mid- to long-term option to join the systems.”

He said the State Government was also looking at desalination, but this was generally considered to be too high in energy use.

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