Rous seeks input on dam artefacts
ROUS Water councillors have voted to consult further with Aboriginal communities about the next step for Dunoon Dam following the discovery of significant Aboriginal artefacts at the site.
Rous councillors met yesterday for the first time since this month's discovery to discuss what the find meant for the region's long-term water strategy.
The dam has been planned for decades and was expected to be under construction some time around the end of this decade.
It is a central part of Rous Water's plans for providing water to the region's growing population.
The councillors are representatives from the Rous member councils (Lismore, Ballina, Byron and Richmond Valley).
They voted to consult local indigenous communities on the best way to proceed with authentication and to seek their views on future action and the results of further studies.
They also voted to seek an expert anthropological review of the dam's cultural heritage impact assessment, as well as an assessment of how the site's cultural significance would be evaluated against a state-significant project and how the NSW Department of Planning and Infrastructure might rule on the matter.
Cr Keith Johnson, of Ballina Shire Council, acknowledged the discovery was a significant hurdle to the dam and urged the council to reserve its decision until after the find's significance was established.
Rous Water general manager Kyme Lavelle said the water authority was committed to allowing the investigation and consent process to run its course, at which point the future water strategy progress reference group would advise the council.
He added Rous Water had spent almost $5 million to date on water strategy studies which he believed was reasonable.
Rous Water's long-term water strategy policy ranks Dunoon Dam as a high priority, but a recommendation from staff to change it as a result of the project becoming less likely was held over.