Rous Water to refill Ballina dam

By Alex Easton

Rous Water will refill Emigrant Creek dam without waiting for final results from tests on the toxicity of an old dip site on the dam's bottom.

With the wet season winding up, the eight-member council last week voted to let the dam fill with water after spending months nearly empty as the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries tested soil in the dam and fish for signs of poisonous chemicals.

A report presented to the council last week by operational services manager Wayne Franklin says 49 surface samples taken from soil at the bottom of the dam have given it a preliminary all-clear, but test results from samples dug about a metre under the soil will not be ready until late this month or April.

Mr Franklin told The Northern Star the test results on the soil and water and on fish taken from the dam showed toxic chemicals from the dip remained in the soil around the site, but were not entering the water.

Mr Franklin said that the dam, whether filled or empty, could not be used until late this year when a new water treatment plant came online, meaning no water would enter the region's supply of drinking water before final results came through.

Mr Franklin said it would be cheaper to allow the dam to fill with water and then drain it again than to keep it empty.

The 'empty' dam was filled to about seven per cent of its usual capacity to keep its fish alive.

But because the water level was so low, it could easily stagnate, meaning Rous Water staff had turned to inventive, but expensive, solutions to keep up oxygen levels in the water.

"We have been pumping water out of the dam and spraying it into the air and letting it fall back in to keep the oxygen levels up in the dam," Mr Franklin said.

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