Casino may pull plug on weir
By NERIDA BLOK
DAMIEN GRACE has a cheque for $24,000, but no authority to spend it.
The Richmond Valley Council engineer said the cheque, received by the council two weeks ago from the New South Wales Environmental Trust, was to cover the cost of removing the old Norco weir in the Richmond River, opposite Queen Elizabeth Park, Casino.
Mr Grace said final approval to demolish the weir was yet to be granted, however, he said it wouldn't be an issue from a planning perspective.
"The project has been identified as a net environmental gain," he said. "We know for a fact it is stopping fish."
Mr Grace said the disused weir, built by the dairy co-operative during the mid-1950s, was causing environmental damage by preventing the migration of fish upstream.
He said while the council did not have an official position on the weir's removal, it understood the scientific, technical and economic merits of the project.
"We realise the long-term environmental and economic benefits to the community of the Richmond Valley Shire," he said.
"A healthy river means more fish, and more fish means more money."
Mr Grace said the weir was rated as the number one weir in the State to be removed under the NSW State Weirs policy.
But it seems not everyone is keen to see it go.
Casino resident Bernard Flipo wants the weir preserved for its aesthetic, recreational and environmental as- sets.
Mr Flipo said he and other concerned Casino residents were currently seeking alternative solutions to satisfy all parties.
"One possibility we're looking at is the installation of a cheap, efficient fish way," he said.
Irrigators have also shown interest in using the weir as a water storage.
On final approval and completion of a voluntary public consultation process, Mr Grace said he expected demolition of the weir to take place within the next financial year.
"Optimally September, purely based on river flow," he said.