Dam plan does not hold water

Phil Austin, the former co-ordinator of the Clarence Water Users? Association, questions plans for a water storage dam.
Phil Austin, the former co-ordinator of the Clarence Water Users? Association, questions plans for a water storage dam.

A CLARENCE VALLEY resident has claimed the public was deliberately misled by plans to build a dam at Shannon Creek for the Clarence Valley-Coffs Harbour Regional Water Supply Project.

Phil Austin, the former coordinator of the Clarence Water Users' Association, based his claims on discrepancies highlighted in his analysis of a Carr Government strategic review of the project.

Mr Austin said the review, commissioned by Minister for Energy and Utilities Frank Sartor last October, confirmed a 30,000 Mega Litres (ML) dam would be unable to provide adequate storage within 10 years of its construction.

He based his claims on information taken from an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) conducted in 1999 for North Coast Water.

He said the EIS estimated the 30,000ML capacity would be viable until 2021, from which point it would need to be increased to 90,000ML to provide adequate storage until 2046.

Mr Austin said the Carr Government's review claimed it could compensate for the 60,000ML discrepancy between 2021 and 2046 with water effi- ciency measures.

"My report shows that they haven't provided any evidence to support the claim that they can make up for a 60,000ML storage capacity through water efficiency measures," he said.

"Instead of addressing pumping capacity (from the Nymboida River), the Department of Commerce appears simply to have said 'let's build a bigger dam'.

"What I'm claiming is that there appears to have been an attempt to manipulate or circumvent the statutory approval process."

North Coast Water executive manager Ian Preston denied any plan to build a bigger dam or an attempt to mislead the public. The Shannon Creek site would house a 30,000ML dam although its design would allow future generations to expand its capacity if deemed necessary.

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