There are concerns about plans for a water extraction operation on the Alstonville plateau.
There are concerns about plans for a water extraction operation on the Alstonville plateau.

Water extraction investigation gets under way

AN INVESTIGATION into the potential impacts of water extraction across the Northern Rivers has started this week, after the NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer visited the region to meet with stakeholders and concerned residents about the industry.

Last month the NSW Government engaged the assistance of the NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer to provide advice on the sustainable groundwater extraction limits in the Northern Rivers region of NSW, as well as advice on whether the current or proposed groundwater monitoring bores are sufficient.

The office of NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer director Dr Chris Armstrong visited Murwillumbah on Sunday and Monday this week to kick off initial meetings with residents, bottling companies, indigenous groups and Tweed Shire council.

Dr Armstrong said it had been a valuable start to the investigation and he hoped to visit Lismore and Ballina soon.

"Part of our challenge is we've only been working on this for a couple of weeks," he said.

"We're trying to get a clear picture of the issues, seeing what people find are impacts, what the systems bottle water companies use and we're trying to get as much data and information as we can."

With the first report due in February, Dr Armstrong said he planned on returning to the region early next year to continue meeting with anyone who wished to share their thoughts on the water extraction industry.

"At the moment we're trying to identify and analyses and look at as much data and water modelling information that we can through these discussions with the community and others.

"We will then work without own experts to interpret that data."

He said the initial report was due to the government in February, where they hope to map out a pathway forward with the final report due in mid 2019.

"At the moment we're here to look, listen and learn with another visit for early 2019 and visit the Lismore area as well as I understand there is discussions around the Ballina and Lismore area.

"We're still in that early days at the moment but I'm hoping we will have some good constructive information in the report," he said.



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